The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is held every two years to enable leaders of Commonwealth countries to come together to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to decide on collective policies and initiatives.
This year, CHOGM is taking place in Sri Lanka, the first time an Asian country is hosting the summit in 24 years.
Every CHOGM is jointly organized by the host country and the Commonwealth Secretariat. These biennial meetings serve as the principal policy and decision-making forum to guide the strategic direction of the association.
Commonwealth leaders have been coming together for discussions since 1949, but the title “Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting” was adopted during a session in Singapore in 1971. This specific classification was used to depict the gathering of both presidents and prime ministers in the event.
One unique aspect of the meeting is that the formal opening ceremony and the formal Executive Session are followed by a “retreat” where leaders meet privately for discussions. With an informal atmosphere, this session allows heads of state to freely and frankly exchange their views on important issues and come to a consensus.
Previous CHOGMs have focused on a range of global issues, including international peace and security, democracy, climate change, multilateral trade issues, good governance, sustainable development, small states, debt management, education, environment, gender equality, health, human rights, information and communication technology, and youth affairs.
The theme of the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia, was “Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience.”