The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, abbreviated to CHOGM, is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations. Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state, and is chaired by that nation's respective Prime Minister or President, who becomes the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office. Recently, meetings have been attended by Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, although the Queen's formal appearance only began in 1997.
The first CHOGM was held in 1971, and there have been twenty-one held in total: the most recent in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009. They are held once every two years, although this pattern has twice been interrupted. They are held around the Commonwealth, rotating by invitation amongst its members.
In the past, CHOGMs have attempted to orchestrate common policies on certain contentious issues and current events, with a special focus on issues affecting member nations. CHOGMs have discussed the continuation of apartheid rule in South Africa and how to end it, military coups in Pakistan and Fiji, and allegations of electoral fraud in Zimbabwe. Sometimes the member states agree on a common idea or solution, and release a joint statement declaring their opinion. More recently, beginning at the 1997 CHOGM, the meeting has had an official 'theme', set by the host nation, on which the primary discussions have been focused.
The meetings originated with the of the leaders of the self-governing colonies of the British Empire. The First Colonial Conference in 1887 was followed by periodic meetings, known as Imperial Conferences from 1911, of government leaders of the Empire. The development of the independence of the dominions, and the creation of a number of new dominions, as well as the invitation of Southern Rhodesia (which also attended as a sui generis colony), changed the nature of the meetings. As the dominion leaders asserted themselves more and more at the meetings, it became clear that the time for 'imperial' conferences was over.
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