Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit

Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit

The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit (CPSU) is a think-tank for the Commonwealth of fifty-three nations and nearly two billion citizens. The head office is located in Russell Square at the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies and is part of the School of Advanced Study.

CPSU logo
Commonwealth Policy Studes Unit
Current Staff

Institute of Commonwealth Studies
University of London
28 Russell Square
London WC1B 5DS

Head Dr. Victoria te Velde
Research Associates

Richard Bourne Dr. Veronica Broomes
Emmanuel Nuesiri
Dr. Bevlyn Olima

Nageela Yusuf
Project Officers

Homera Cheema

Susanna Darch
Research Assistants

Anand Roopsind

Phil Rundell

Tomesha Campbell

Trevor Maylen
Africa Team

Matthew Ivongbe
Charles Makunja

Katrina Phillips
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Structure and Governance


The Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit is regarded as 'a widely respected authority on the Commonwealth'.[1] The CPSU received its go-ahead from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICS), at the end of 1998 after a feasibility study funded by the British and Canadian governments. The only think-tank in the world that is dedicated to Commonwealth affairs, the Unit works on issues of globalisation, democracy, civil society, and human rights with persons and agencies around the Commonwealth. The CPSU celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2009. Through the years, CPSU has become a respected and valued part of the Commonwealth family, working closely with Commonwealth governments, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation. In addition to a range of projects, the Unit produces a Commonwealth Ministerial Policy Brief ahead of every Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting, as well as for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.

The Mission

The mission of CPSU is to act as a think-tank for the entire Commonwealth. The CPSU stimulates debate, enquiry, and the sharing of ideas and information across the Commonwealth. CPSU fulfils its mission primarily through ongoing programmes for externally funded research projects, a series of events, and an extensive body of briefings and publications. CPSU projects are changing the way people think, for instance: about youth engagement, legal reform, international aid architecture, food security and assisting developing and small island states to maximise the opportunities of globalisation. CPSU conducts a wide range of first class policy studies on issues of wide concern. In addition, CPSU raises the quality of policy-making by governments, intergovernmental organisations, business and civil society, and local communities.


The CPSU, starting small on the basis of project funding, has kept its governance arrangements simple. As of June 2008 the unit had a staff of ten people, including two interns. CPSU has an international advisory board chaired by Lord Chidgey, which for specified purposes may be regarded as a subcommittee of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Current projects

CPSU conducts research studies to inform and influence policy makers in over a quarter of the world’s countries. Currently the CPSU have projects running on Gun Culture in Commonwealth urban areas, Commonwealth Membership, UN Reform, Corporate Social Responsibility, Fisheries, Youth Engagement, and Water-related Conflict and Security. With projects such as these, CPSU puts the policy choices before the Commonwealth into sharper focus, exploring options and suggesting new directions.

The CPSU runs conferences, dialogues, workshops and seminars which are typically held at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Most events are by invitation only but many are open to the public. In addition, the Unit also run events outside the United Kingdom in conjunction with other bodies.


The CPSU works across five programme area on pioneering work for the modern Commonwealth. Within each of these programmes there are a number of projects at various stages of development:

Water & Environment Programme

  • Marine Fisheries Management and Coastal Zone Communities in the Commonwealth
  • Forestry & Sustainable Development: comparative case studies in the Commonwealth
  • Water Security in the Commonwealth: best practise and lesson learning

Communities & Civil Society Programme

  • Gun culture in Commonwealth urban areas
  • Interfaith dialogue in the Commonwealth
  • Digital education in Commonwealth Universities
  • Think tanks in South Asia

Youth & Education Programme

  • Youth engagement and CSO
  • Summer Conference 2008
  • Commonwealth e-Pals

Economic Development programme

  • Zimbabwe economic revival
  • Policy making against corruption in SE Asia
  • Odius Debt in Commonwealth countries
  • IFI Reform: a Commonwealth approach
  • CSR: a case study of Belize and Botswana

Governance Programme

  • Governance Network Coordinator (for ACU)
  • Commonwealth membership (Rwanda & Madagascar)
  • The State of Democracy in the Commonwealth
  • High Level Expert Group on Policing
  • CMAG policy brief

Funders and Partners

The CPSU is a NGO which receives funding from other associations and organizations around the Commonwealth. The CPSU's funders and partners include:

See also

External links

Associations and Organisations


  1. ^ Dickie J, 2004, The New Mandarins: How British Foreign Policy Works pp185-186.

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