Fortifying The Commonwealth

Candidate for Secretary General of the Commonwealth (2024).

Letter of Introduction

I am honoured to present my candidature for the esteemed position of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

As you are aware, Commonwealth Leaders will elect the next Secretary-General at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Apia, Samoa, in October 2024. In line with the principle of regional rotation, it is now Africa’s turn to hold the position. The next Secretary-General will be the seventh, but second Secretary-General from Africa, following Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria who held the position from 1990 to 2000.

I am deeply grateful to my government for endorsing my candidacy, making me the first Lesotho national to seek this prestigious role. This is a testament to Lesotho’s commitment to the values, principles, and objectives of the Commonwealth, as well as my unwavering dedication to serving its diverse membership.


If bestowed with this immense honour

If bestowed with this immense honour, I pledge to work diligently with members to uphold and advance the Commonwealth’s values, effectively represent the organisation on the global stage, and provide visionary leadership to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

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My professional journey in the public service of Lesotho, a developing Commonwealth country, has afforded me firsthand experience of the transformative impact that Commonwealth support can have across various sectors. I have witnessed the Commonwealth successfully strengthen public policy formulation, mediate national political crises, build institutional capacity, and lay the ground for sustainable development.

The challenges confronting developing countries today, particularly small island developing states (SIDS), threaten to undermine the progress made towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Persistent instability in several regions and the erosion of democratic institutions pose significant obstacles that demand renewed political focus and investment. With its convening power and global influence, the Commonwealth is uniquely positioned to address these challenges effectively.

As Secretary-General, I will focus on strengthening the Commonwealth Secretariat, ensuring that it remains a dynamic and responsive organisation, capable of delivering tangible benefits to its member states. To this end, I will undertake a comprehensive review of the Secretariat’s administrative manuals, streamline communication with all stakeholders, rationalise program development and delivery, develop effective impact assessment tools, enhance financial management, and develop a comprehensive resource mobilisation strategy.

I firmly believe that unlocking the full trade potential of the Commonwealth is a strategic priority that requires renewed attention. The Commonwealth’s collective trade and investment potential holds the key to lifting millions of its citizens out of poverty. Drawing on my extensive experience implementing trade policy programs and strategies across the Commonwealth, I am confident in my ability to articulate and promote a new and sustainable trade agenda. This agenda will prioritise the effective integration of developing Commonwealth countries into the global trading system, ensuring that they reap the full benefits of increased intra commonwealth trade and investment.

As Secretary-General, I will also prioritise strengthening the Secretariat’s communication and engagement with all stakeholders, including member states, civil society and international organisations, and the private sector. By fostering inclusive dialogue and collaboration, we can harness the collective wisdom and expertise of the Commonwealth’s diverse membership. I strongly believe in the power of partnerships to amplify the Commonwealth’s impact. I will actively seek out and strengthen partnerships with organisations across the globe that share our values and principles.

Collaboration with entities within the United Nations system, development partners, regional economic communities, and the private sector will be crucial in mobilising resources, delivering programs effectively, and addressing the complex challenges facing our member states. In this regard, the Commonwealth’s ongoing work on access to climate finance and on oceans and natural resources is of paramount importance and should be scaled up.

As Secretary-General, I will mobilise and advocate for increased resources to support these initiatives, particularly those aimed at assisting developing countries in accessing climate finance. I will also champion innovative solutions that harness the ingenuity of Commonwealth citizens and empower governments to develop homegrown solutions to climate change. By transitioning to green economies rooted in renewable energy sources, we can collectively mitigate the effects of climate change and build a sustainable future for all.

Furthermore, I will prioritise capacity building in key policy areas such as strengthening democratic institutions, protection of human rights, the judiciary, and the public service. These areas are of critical importance to Commonwealth members, and the Commonwealth is widely recognised as a leader in these fields. Formulating innovative tools to support small developing Commonwealth countries will be a key focus of my term in office. I will engage in extensive consultations with partners to explore new strategies for mitigating the vulnerabilities of these members. The majority of Commonwealth developing states are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

As Secretary-General, I will continue to prioritise the secretariat’s work on Health, Education, and Youth development. I will strengthen the Secretariat’s commitment to a holistic social development approach that recognises that health, education, and Youth and Women development are interconnected pillars that are critical for the empowerment and prosperity of Commonwealth citizens.

Today, the Commonwealth stands at a crossroads, facing both challenges and opportunities. With your support, I am confident that we can steer the Commonwealth towards a future of prosperity, sustainability, and inclusivity. I humbly request your vote and I pledge to serve the Commonwealth with unwavering dedication and integrity. Together, we can build a Commonwealth that is truly united, resilient, and a beacon of hope for generations to come.

Today, the Commonwealth stands at a crossroads, facing both challenges and opportunities. With your support, I am confident that we can steer the Commonwealth towards a future of prosperity, sustainability, and inclusivity. I humbly request your vote and I pledge to serve the Commonwealth with unwavering dedication and integrity. Together, we can build a Commonwealth that is truly united, resilient, and a beacon of hope for generations to come.


Over 25 years extensive experience

Mr Setipa has initiated positive transformation on international trade and economic policy, public policy, strategic and portfolio management issues at national, regional, and multilateral levels, with particular focus on developing countries. His field experience in formulating and implementing national, regional, and multilateral development projects in Africa, Caribbean and Asia/Pacific regions has afforded him a deep understanding of the Commonwealth countries’ political and policy realities, allowing him to build an extensive network of strategic relationships at the highest levels.

milestone Achievements

Appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the first Managing Director of the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries in November 2018, Mr Setipa brings a wealth of experience in leading and managing teams of highly skilled professionals, delivering technical capacity building, implementing global programmes and advocating for developing countries’ interests and challenges in regional and international fora and managing strategic partnerships with multilateral, public and private sector partners.

As Minister of Trade and Industry in Lesotho, Mr. Setipa provided strategic leadership for the formulation and implementation of national trade and economic development strategies and policies, accelerated passage of key national industrial policy legislation and policies and secured significant concessional financing for industrial infrastructure to facilitate investments in key sectors of strategic interest. As Chief Executive of the Lesotho National Development Corporation, Mr Setipa managed a diversified investment portfolio of more than US$200 million and pioneered the establishment of credit guarantee schemes to enhance access to finance for SMEs focusing on women led businesses in the manufacturing, retail, agriculture, and hospitality sectors.

Mr. Setipa brings over two decades of robust diplomatic acumen representing international organizations and his country at the highest level in global fora and providing strategic leadership in formulation and implementation of mandates, particularly for developing and least developed countries across the commonwealth. Over a 25-year period, he has held senior roles at the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, United Nations, as well as in the Lesotho Diplomatic service where he established the Lesotho Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva in 1998.

Currently on leave of absence from the Commonwealth Secretariat where he serves as the Senior Director for Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships and Digital Divisions at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr Setipa oversees the management of a portfolio of 46 projects ranging from climate change to debt management. He is also the Secretary to the Board of Governors, Executive Committee, and all subsidiary committees. He is responsible for overseeing the intergovernmental processes of the Commonwealth and responsible for reporting delivery of the Secretariat’s programmes to members.

Mr Setipa’s adherence to the Commonwealth Charter is derived from witnessing the Commonwealth providing valuable technical and political support to his own country Lesotho, similar small and developing member states across the Commonwealth, and the commitment and significance of the Secretary-General’s Good Offices in supporting the resolution of political crises across the Commonwealth. This well rounded and extensive knowledge of the Commonwealth puts him in a strong position to lead a Commonwealth that amplifies the aspirations and potential of its member countries to address global challenges and lead transformation at the Secretariat.

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