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Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1997

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Dates 24 October 1997
27 October 1997
Venue(s) St Andrews
Cities 23x15px Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Heads of State or Government 42
Chair Tony Blair
(Prime Minister)
Follows 1995
Precedes 1999
Key points

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1997 was the fifteenth Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in Edinburgh, the United Kingdom, between 24 October and 27 October 1997, and hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It was the largest summit in modern Commonwealth history up to that point (a title to be taken from it by the 1999 CHOGM), with forty-two heads of state or government.[1] It was also attended by Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who had recently been ousted as President of Sierra Leone. Most notable, however, was the emergence of the civil society fringe of the 'People's Commonwealth', transforming a conference of policy-makers into a cultural celebration.[1] For this reason, most participants and commentators considered it a success.[2]

The appearance of Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, at the opening of the CHOGM was a novelty. The monarch had never appeared at a CHOGM before, and it marked the beginning of a renewed interest in the Commonwealth from the monarchy.[1] The rest of the opening ceremony was low-key.

Economic declaration

The CHOGM was, unlike the preceding meeting in Auckland, an unspectacular affair with regards to policy.[1] This was a result of a large number of new-comers to CHOGM, with twenty countries having new leaders, and the consequent requirement to build new personal relationships, which was compounded by the short retreat, which lasted only a few hours,[1] but at which most business is usually done.[3]

Chairperson Tony Blair pushed for a declaration of Commonwealth economic principles to mirror the Harare Declaration of the Commonwealth's political principles of six years earlier.[1] Whilst this was achieved, it was greatly watered-down. The British plan was presented in a sophisticated paper by Robert Cassen and David Greenaway.[2] The paper was rejected almost entirely. India, which opposed the request for another global trade round, scuppered the UK's plan to call for renewed trade negotiations, arguing that globalisation should be slowed.[1] What was agreed included the holding of a biennial Commonwealth Business Forum, the creation of a Trade and Investment Access Facility to help globalisation adjustment, and the creation of a $110m South Asia Regional Fund.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ingram, Derek (January 1998). "Edinburgh Diary". The Round Table 87 (345): pp. 13–16. doi:10.1080/00358539808454395. 
  2. ^ a b "The Commonwealth in Light of the Edinburgh CHOGM". The Round Table 87 (345): pp. 3–12. January 1998. doi:10.1080/00358539808454394. 
  3. ^ Ingram, Derek (October 2007). "Twenty Commonwealth steps from Singapore to Kampala". The Round Table 96 (392): pp. 555–563. doi:10.1080/00358530701625877.