Executive council (Commonwealth countries)

An executive council is a constitutional organ found in a number of Commonwealth countries, where it exercises executive power and (notionally) advises the governor, governor-general, or lieutenant governor, and will typically enact decisions through an Order in Council. In several Commonwealth countries, the executive council is usually referred to as the cabinet. However, the use of the word cabinet as a synonym for the executive council is not universally practised throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, with some Commonwealth countries using the term cabinet to refer to a distinct group of high-ranking officials.

Executive councillors are informally called "ministers". Some executive councils, especially in Australia and the provinces and territories of Canada, are chaired by a President or a Vice-President. In other Commonwealth countries there is no formal president of the executive council, although meetings are held in the presence of the governor-general, governor or president (except in rare cases) and decisions require his or her assent.

These councils have almost the same functions as the privy councils in Canada and the United Kingdom, and decisions of the cabinet gain legal effect by being formally adopted by the executive council; if the cabinet itself is not also the executive council.[note 1]

Current executive councils

Former executive councils

Other executive councils

  • : Executive Council of Hong Kong is a body that holds executive authority in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a colony/British Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom from 1841 to 1997, when the territory was transferred to China. Although it is no longer a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Executive Council still functions. In accordance with the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, the members of the Executive Council should take the Oath of Fidelity after his/her appointment and promise not to reveal any matters being discussed in the council. The aim of this principle was to ensure that the members could speak freely without any fears and pressure, so as to facilitate the Chief Executive to receive prompt and objective advices in the policy making process.[1]
  • : Executive Council of Macau has similar functions to the one in Hong Kong.

See also


  1. In addition to the monarch of Canada, the Privy Council of Canada also advises the Governor General of Canada in their role as the monarch's viceregal representative.


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