Secretaries-General, Marlborough House, Patsy RobertsonNigeria protests, Institute of Commonwealth Studies[clockwise] Secretaries-General, Marlborough House, Patsy Robertson with Sir Shridath Ramphal, Ends Sars Amnesty webpage, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

We’ve been looking through the articles and commentary appearing on the Round Table website which most interested our readers during 2020.

Some originally appeared in The Round Table: Journal of Commonwealth Affairs and some had been written for the Round Table website.  

One of the most read articles in early 2020 was the opinion piece by Editorial Board member Carl Wright, on the financial and administrative crisis at the Commonwealth Secretariat, ahead of what should have been the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali in June 2020.

Commonwealth crisis 2020 – An opinion

The Hodson Prize, named after the Round Table Journal’s late Editor, Harry Hodson, also attracted much attention on the website and on our Twitter feed. Find out more about former winners.

The most read stories as the COVID pandemic global lockdown spread included an analysis of the challenges facing the relationship between India and China and the measured approach the Caribbean island of Barbados had taken to respond to COVID-19.

Your page views of the Round Table website peaked during May and June 2020 and our five-year-old Twitter feed saw rapid growth in the number of followers. It wasn’t only the academic articles that drew interest. In addition to the most-read web articles mentioned above, our growing social media following shared our new virtual events pages which kept people in touch with online events focusing on Commonwealth issues. A mid-year virtual event organised by the Ramphal Institute to look at the future of the Commonwealth also drew readers’ attention as Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland defended the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and joined a global gathering in scrutinising the organisation’s future.

One of the panellists in the June session, former Communications veteran Patsy Robertson, died in August. An appreciation of her contribution to the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Ramphal Institute shared with the Round Table website by Round Table Editorial Board member and the Institute’s trustee Richard Bourne was one of the most viewed articles. A follow-up reflection on her life, held later in 2020 by the Commonwealth Association which she had chaired, also attracted global attention and emails from people who had worked with Patsy during her years serving the Commonwealth.

In mid-year, there was a major initiative by the Round Table journal – to conduct virtual interviews with the four surviving former secretaries-general of the Commonwealth. Sir Shridath Ramphal, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Don McKinnon and Kamalesh Sharma shared their memories of how they ran the Commonwealth Secretariat and their visions for the future of the organisation. You can view the videos and transcripts from the four interviews on our website.

Plans announced in October by the University of London to close the Institute of Commonwealth Studies led to a surge of articles and comments. The Editorial Board of the Round Table issued a statement and Commonwealth associations signed a joint letter urging further consultation by the university.

In mid-December, the University of London announced plans to set up a committee to “explore whether the interest and support of external bodies translates into practical alternative solutions to the proposed closure of ICWS”. The Committee will be chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and will comprise key stakeholders from outside the University of London.

As we neared the end of 2020, readers turned their attention to the Round Table’s PhD studentships which provide support for research projects on Commonwealth-related themes. Readers also took an interest in our articles on developments in Nigeria. You can view this year’s special edition of the Round Table journal on Nigeria and other editions of the journal. In 2021, our new-look website will also feature more developments in the journal and will highlight specially-chosen articles, made free-to-view for a limited period, from the journal’s archives.

View the current edition of The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.

Related articles:

Brexit Britain and Commonwealth consequences (January 2020)

Australia’s bushfire crisis (February 2020)

Connecting on Commonwealth Day (March 2020)

Life in the time of corona – how the Commonwealth is coping (May 2020)

Adieu DFID – or is it Au Revoir? (July 2020)

Reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement (September 2020)

The Chinese challenge – a conversation with Charles Moore (September 2020)

Academia and free speech (November 2020)

From the Archive – A taster from the Round Table journal archives (December 2020)