Canadian diplomat Arnold Cantwell Smith served as the first Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1965 to 1975.
Born in 1915, Mr Smith attended Upper Canada College in Toronto, the University of Toronto and Oxford University’s Christ Church, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Fluent in English, French and Russian, in 1939 he became the editor of The Baltic Times in Estonia and worked concurrently as associate professor of political economy at the University of Tartu.
He joined the Canadian Diplomatic Service in 1943 and held numerous posts around the world and at home, including Ambassador to the United Arab Republic (1958-61), and to the Soviet Union (1961-63); and Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. In early 1965, he was nominated by Canada’s Prime Minister Lester Pearson as a candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General. It was a post he would serve in for two five-year terms until 1975.
Mr Smith’s stewardship of the Commonwealth is remembered most for the decision taken at the 1971 Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore to establish the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), which has become a unique agency for mutual assistance, as well as his clear guidance in the development of the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles that sums up the values of the association, namely, democracy, human rights and good governance.
He was succeeded as Commonwealth Secretary-General by Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal of Guyana.
Mr Smith died on 7 February 1994 in Toronto at the age of 79 after a long illness.