Moot Resources

The Moot is the name of the Editorial Board that supports The Round Table journal, as well as organizing occasional seminars, meetings and conferences on themes of Commonwealth interest.

Eminent Persons Group

An introduction

The review of Commonwealth institutions and processes, announced by Heads of Government in Trinidad & Tobago at their meeting of November 2009, will be spearheaded by an unusual body. There is to be no select high-level group of Heads who will meet on the eve of the 2011 summit to put the finishing touches to a year's worth of solid work by a representative band of senior government officials. Rather, an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) will be appointed*.

The only previous EPG was established nearly twenty-five years ago with a formidable but specific remit: to promote negotiations between all the principal parties for an end to the system of apartheid in South Africa. While the new EPG will have a more prosaic task ahead of it, it is to be hoped that it will share some of the key characteristics of its predecessor. Although member governments will undoubtedly forward their nominations of suitably experienced and eminent men and women to the Secretary-General, EPG members should not be beholden to governments, offering the Secretary-General no more, and no less, than their judgement and insights.

The independence and stature of EPG members should encourage a more free and detached examination of the issues, and an open style of working. Given that the remit of the group so clearly covers civil society and non-government actors, as well as the intergovernmental institutions, it is obviously important that EPG members should be recruited from a broad range of backgrounds and skills, including from civil society. They should also be seen to listen to the widest possible range of opinion and, some have suggested, be served by a staff team drawn from both the Commonwealth Secretariat (representing the official Commonwealth) and the Commonwealth Foundation ( with its remit for promoting civil society)

Stuart Mole, November 2009

* Link to the Eminent Persons Group on the Commonwealth Secretarat Website