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Dr Anne Therese Gallagher AO appointed as Director-General

As Vijay Krishnarayan’s second term comes to an end, Dr Gallagher takes the helm in June as ambassador for civil society in the Commonwealth.

Posted on 24/04/2019
By Commonwealth Foundation

Following a rigorous selection process and approval from its 46 member states, Dr Anne Therese Gallagher AO has been announced as the new Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society. Dr Gallagher will assume the role in June 2019 at the Foundation’s offices in Marlborough House, London.

Since its relaunch in 2012, The Foundation has been developing the capacity of civil society to play its part in making policy and institutions more responsive and accountable to people’s needs.

It has done so by providing technical assistance and over £6 million worth of funding for programmes and projects Commonwealth-wide including a range of civil society capacity development initiatives with an explicit focus on governance and gender. In addition, its annual Commonwealth Short Story Prize, delivered through its sub-brand, Commonwealth Writers, now receives over 5000 submissions each year from 50 countries.

Dr Gallagher brings extensive leadership experience to the role. A lawyer, practitioner, teacher and scholar, her long international career has involved specialisation in a wide range of areas including human rights and the administration of criminal justice.

After several years teaching in the law school of the Australian National University, Dr Gallagher was recruited to the United Nations where she served for 12 years, including as special adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. From 2003, Anne worked with the Association of South-East Asian Nations and its ten Member States to strengthen legislative and criminal justice responses to human trafficking and related exploitation.

Her recent and current appointments include President of the International Catholic Migration Commission; Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking; and member of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration.

Dr Gallagher’s work for human rights, justice and equality has been widely recognised, earning her, among other honours, the Australian Freedom Award and the ‘Peace Woman of the Year’ award for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 2012, she was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and named a ‘2012 hero’ by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

On news of her appointment, Dr Gallagher said:

‘As the civil society voice of the Commonwealth, the Foundation has played a vital role in advancing core Commonwealth values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

‘That role will continue to be critical as we move into a future where truly inclusive multilateral cooperation is becoming ever more urgent. I am honoured to take the helm of the Foundation at this exciting, challenging time.’

The current Director-General, Vijay Krishnarayan, who has overseen the implementation of two strategic plans including the Commonwealth Foundation’s 2012 relaunch, said:

‘As I come to the end of my two terms as the Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, I reflect on the great distance the organisation has travelled since 2012. Together, our board, civil society stakeholders and staff have dedicated the Foundation to pluralism and inclusion.

‘It has been a great privilege to lead the organisation, which is unique in the way that it combines an intergovernmental mandate, with a civil society mission. I am confident that under Anne’s leadership the Foundation will go from strength to strength as a partner that delivers development for all.’

Vijay Krishnarayan, the Foundation’s current Director-General, is nearing the end of his second term

Chair of the Board of Governors, Ambassador Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, said of the appointment:

‘I would like to congratulate Dr Anne Gallagher on her appointment as the new Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation. I have no doubt that her wide experience and deep involvement with civil society will help to steer the Foundation to the next stage of its development.

‘An intergovernmental organisation straddling the delicate path of interacting with civil society to promote inclusive governance, this unique Commonwealth institution has to always reinvent itself to maintain its legitimacy and relevance to deliver on its mission in an ever challenging global environment.

‘Dr Gallagher has the intellectual competence and diplomatic skills to deliver on this mission. I wish to welcome her to the Commonwealth Foundation and wish her all the best in her new assignment.’

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  • The Commonwealth Foundation is one of the Commonwealth’s three intergovernmental agencies alongside the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth of Learning.
  • The Director-General is responsible for all activities of the Commonwealth Foundation and reports to the Chair of the Board.
  • Annual priorities of the Commonwealth Foundation are determined by a Board of Governors, comprising representatives of Commonwealth governments and High Commissioners based in London, civil society representatives, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The Chair of the Foundation is a distinguished private citizen of a Commonwealth country appointed by Heads of Government.
  • The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual competition which is free to enter for Commonwealth citizens.