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The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of
54 member states
54 member states
, almost all of which are former
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. The chief institutions of the organisation are the
Commonwealth Secretariat The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has so ...
, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the
Commonwealth Foundation The Commonwealth Foundation (CF) is an intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of o ...
, which focuses on non-governmental relations amongst member states. The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the
decolonisation Decolonization (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nations through the
Balfour Declaration The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine (region), Palestine, then an ...
at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalised by the United Kingdom through the Statute of Westminster in 1931. The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
in 1949, which modernised the community and established the member states as "free and equal". The
head of the Commonwealth Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is ...
is currently
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mon ...

Queen Elizabeth II
; the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting appointed
Charles, Prince of Wales Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of ind ...

Charles, Prince of Wales
to be her designated successor, although the position is not hereditary. Elizabeth II is the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
of 15 member states, known as the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s, while 34 other members are
republics A republic ( la, res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is length (phonetics), du ...
and 5 others have different monarchs. Member states have no legal obligations to one another, but are connected through their use of the English language and historical ties. Their stated shared values of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polit ...

democracy
,
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Norm (social), normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ...
and the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and promoted by the quadrennial
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
.


History


Origins of the concept and establishment of the term

Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mon ...

Queen Elizabeth II
, in her address to Canada on
Dominion Day Dominion Day was a day commemorating the granting of Dominion status in certain countries. It was an official public holiday in Canada from 1879 to 1982, where it was celebrated on 1 July; that date is now known as Canada Day. In the Dominion of New ...
in 1959, pointed out that the Confederation of Canada on 1 July 1867 had been the birth of the "first independent country within the British Empire". She declared: "So, it also marks the beginning of that free association of independent states which is now known as the Commonwealth of Nations." As long ago as 1884
Lord Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. Between the death of his father in 1851 and the death of his grandfa ...
, while visiting Australia, had described the changing British Empire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a "Commonwealth of Nations". Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers occurred periodically from the first one in 1887, leading to the creation of the
Imperial Conference Imperial Conferences (Colonial Conferences before 1907) were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire between 1887 and 1937, before the establishment of regular Meetings of ...
s in 1911. The Commonwealth developed from the imperial conferences. A specific proposal was presented by
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, (24 May 1870 11 September 1950) was a South African statesman, military leader, and philosopher. In addition to holding various military and cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of South Africa, prime m ...
in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations" and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the
Paris Peace Conference of 1919 Paris () is the capital and most populous city of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Ov ...
, attended by delegates from the Dominions as well as Britain. The term first received imperial statutory recognition in the
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
of 1921, when the term ''British Commonwealth of Nations'' was substituted for ''British Empire'' in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State.


Adoption and formalisation of the Commonwealth

In the
Balfour Declaration The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine (region), Palestine, then an ...
at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Britain and its dominions agreed they were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations". The term "
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
" was officially adopted to describe the community. These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which applied to Canada without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, and
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...
had to ratify the statute for it to take effect. Newfoundland never did, as on 16 February 1934, with the consent of its parliament, the government of Newfoundland voluntarily ended and governance reverted to direct control from London. Newfoundland later joined Canada as its tenth province in 1949. Australia and New Zealand ratified the Statute in
1942 Events Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix. January * January 1 – WWII: ** The Declaration by United Nations is signed by China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, and 22 other nations, in ...
and 1947 respectively. Although the Union of South Africa was not among the Dominions that needed to adopt the Statute of Westminster for it to take effect, two laws—the Status of the Union Act, 1934, and the Royal Executive Functions and Seals Act of 1934—were passed to confirm South Africa's status as a sovereign state.


Decolonisation and self-governance

After the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
ended, the British Empire was gradually dismantled. Most of its components have become independent countries, whether
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s or republics, and members of the Commonwealth. There remain the 14 mainly self-governing
British overseas territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen all with a constitutional and historical link with the . They are remnants of the and do not form part of the United Kingdom its ...

British overseas territories
which retain some political association with the United Kingdom. In April 1949, following the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth to reflect its changing nature.
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
(also known as
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
) and
Aden Aden ( , ; ar, عدن ' Yemeni Arabic, Yemeni: ) is a city, and since 2015, the temporary capital of Yemen, near the eastern approach to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aden), some east of the strait Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately ...
(now part of the
Republic of Yemen ) , image_map = File:Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a ('' De jure'')Aden ( Temporary capital Yemeni government, in exile) , coordinates = , capital_exile = Riyadh (presidential ad ...

Republic of Yemen
) are the only states that were British colonies at the time of the war not to have joined the Commonwealth upon independence. Former British
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency (sometimes referred as an external territory) is a territory that does not ...
s and mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt (independent in 1922), Iraq (1932),
Transjordan
Transjordan
(1946),
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
(part of which became the state of Israel in 1948),
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A ...

Sudan
(1956),
British Somaliland British Somaliland, officially the Somaliland Protectorate ( so, Dhulka Maxmiyada Soomaalida ee Biritishka), was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the c ...
(which united with the former
Italian Somaliland Italian Somaliland ( it, Somala italiana; ar, الصومال الإيطالي, Al-Sumal Al-Italiy; so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state which ...

Italian Somaliland
in 1960 to form the
Somali Republic The Somali Republic ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed, it, Repubblica Somala, ar, الجمهورية الصومالية ) was the name of a sovereign state composing of Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the ...
),
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
(1961),
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fâr ...

Bahrain
(1971),
Oman Oman ( ; ar, عُمَان ' ), officially the Sultanate of Oman ( ar, سلْطنةُ عُمان ), is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Formerly a maritime empire, Oman is the oldest continuously in ...

Oman
(1971),
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
(1971), and the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, الإمارات العربية المتحدة ) or the Emirates ( ar, الإمارات ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregio ...

United Arab Emirates
(1971).


Declining roles

The postwar Commonwealth was given a fresh mission by Queen Elizabeth II in her Christmas Day 1953 broadcast, in which she envisioned the Commonwealth as "an entirely new conception – built on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace". Hoped-for success was reinforced by such achievements as climbing Mount Everest in 1953,
breaking the four-minute mile
breaking the four-minute mile
in 1954, and a solo circumnavigation of the globe in 1966. However, the humiliation of the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
of 1956 badly hurt the morale of Britain and of the Commonwealth as a whole. More broadly, there was the loss of a central role of the British Empire: the defence of the Empire. That role was no longer militarily or financially feasible, as Britain's withdrawal from Greece in 1947 had painfully demonstrated. Britain itself was now just one part of the
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
military alliance, in which the Commonwealth had no role apart from Canada. The ANZUS treaty of 1955 linked Australia, New Zealand, and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
in a defensive alliance, with Britain and the Commonwealth left out. The second major function of the Empire made London the financial centre of the system. After the Second World War, the British treasury was so weak that it could not operate independently of the United States. The loss of defence and financial roles, furthermore, undermined
Joseph Chamberlain's
Joseph Chamberlain's
early 20th-century vision of a world empire that could combine Imperial preference, mutual defence, and social growth. In addition, Britain's cosmopolitan role in world affairs became increasingly limited, especially with the losses of India and Singapore. While British politicians at first hoped that the Commonwealth would preserve and project British influence, they gradually lost their enthusiasm, argues
Krishnan Srinivasan Krishnan Srinivasan (born 15 February 1937) is a retired Indian diplomat, Historian, author, former Indian Foreign Secretary (India), Foreign Secretary, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations . He was born in Madras, India ...

Krishnan Srinivasan
. Early enthusiasm waned as British policies came under fire at Commonwealth meetings. Public opinion became troubled as immigration from non-white member states became large-scale.


Republics

On 18 April 1949, Ireland formally became a republic in accordance with the Irish
Republic of Ireland Act 1948 The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 (No. 22 of 1948) is an Act of the Oireachtas The Oireachtas ( , ), sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the ...
; in doing so, it also formally left the Commonwealth. While Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth since the early 1930s, other dominions wished to become republics without losing Commonwealth ties. The issue came to a head in April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers' meeting in London. Under the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
, India agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, it would remain in the Commonwealth and accept the British Sovereign as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth". Upon hearing this, King
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was and the s of the from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last until August 1947, when the was dissolved. Known as "B ...

George VI
told the Indian politician
Krishna Menon Vengalil Krishna Kurup Krishna Menon (3 May 1896 – 6 October 1974) was an Indian politician, non-career diplomat and nationalist. He was described by some as the second most powerful man in India,
: "So, I've become 'as such'". Other Commonwealth countries that have since become republics while members, such as
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be ...

Guyana
,
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=, Moris ]), officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an in the about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent, east of . It includes the main isla ...

Mauritius
and
Dominica Dominica ( or ; Kalinago : ; french: Dominique; Dominican Creole French Dominican Creole French is a French-based creole, which is the generally spoken language in Dominica Dominica ( or ; Kalinago language: ; french: Dominique; Do ...

Dominica
, have remained members. The London Declaration is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern Commonwealth. Following India's precedent, other nations became republics, or
constitutional monarchies A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
with their own monarchs. While some countries retained the same monarch as the United Kingdom, their monarchies developed differently and soon became essentially independent of the British monarchy. The monarch is regarded as a separate
legal personality In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its b ...
in each realm, even though the same person is monarch of each realm.


New Commonwealth

Planners in the interwar period, like Lord Davies, who had also taken "a prominent part in building up the League of Nations Union" in the United Kingdom, in 1932 founded the New Commonwealth Society, of whose British section
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, Winston Churchill in the Second World War, during the Second World War, ...

Winston Churchill
became the president. This new society was aimed at the creation of an international air force to be an arm of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: Société des Nations ), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member state ...
, to allow nations to disarm and safeguard the peace. The term 'New Commonwealth' has been used in the UK (especially in the 1960s and 1970s) to refer to recently decolonised countries, predominantly non-white and developing. It was often used in debates about
immigration Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective ident ...

immigration
from these countries. Britain and the pre-1945 dominions became informally known as the Old Commonwealth, or more pointedly as the '
white White is the lightest color and is achromatic (having no hue). It is the color of snow, chalk, and milk, and is the opposite of black. White objects fully diffuse reflection, reflect and scattering, scatter all the visible spectrum, visible wa ...
Commonwealth', in reference to the so-called 'White Dominions'.


Plan G and inviting Europe to join

At a time when Germany and France, together with Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, were planning what later became the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, and newly independent African countries were joining the Commonwealth, new ideas were floated to prevent Britain from becoming isolated in economic affairs. British trade with the Commonwealth was four times larger than its trade with Europe. In 1956 and 1957 the British government under Prime Minister
Anthony Eden Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the ...

Anthony Eden
considered a "Plan G" to create a European free trade zone while also protecting the favoured status of the Commonwealth. Britain also considered inviting Scandinavian and other European countries to join the Commonwealth, so that it would become a major economic common market. At the time of the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
in 1956, in the face of colonial unrest and international tensions, French prime minister
Guy Mollet Guy Alcide Mollet (; 31 December 1905 – 3 October 1975) was a French politician. He led the socialist French Section of the Workers' International The French Section of the Workers' International (french: Section française de l'International ...

Guy Mollet
proposed to British prime minister
Anthony Eden Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the ...

Anthony Eden
that their two countries be joined in a "union". When that proposal was turned down, Mollet suggested that France join the Commonwealth, possibly with "a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis". These ideas faded away with the end of the Suez Crisis.


Structure


Head of the Commonwealth

Under the formula of the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
, Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Elizabeth II
is the
head of the Commonwealth Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is ...
, a title that is by law a part of Elizabeth's royal titles in each of the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s, the 15 members of the Commonwealth that recognise her as their
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
. When the monarch dies, the successor to the crown does not automatically become the new head of the Commonwealth. However, at their meeting in April 2018, Commonwealth leaders agreed that
Prince Charles Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Quee ...

Prince Charles
should succeed his mother as head. The position is symbolic, representing the free association of independent members, the majority of which (34) are
republics A republic ( la, res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is length (phonetics), du ...
, and five have monarchs of different
royal house A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which u ...
s (
Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coa ...

Brunei
,
Eswatini Eswatini ( ; ss, eSwatini ), officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and formerly officially entitled (and still often known) in English as Swaziland ( ; officially renamed in 2018), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country ...

Eswatini
,
Lesotho Lesotho ( , ), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho ( st, Naha ea Lesotho), is an enclaved country surrounded entirely by South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. Wi ...

Lesotho
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
, and
Tonga Tonga (, ), officially named the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia Polynesia (, ; from grc, πολύς "many" and grc, νῆσος "island") ( to, Faka-Polinisia; mi, Porinihia; haw, Polenekia; ...

Tonga
).


Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The main decision-making forum of the organisation is the biennial
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM; or) is a wiktionary:biennial, biennial summit meeting of the List of current heads of state and government, ''de facto'' leaders from all Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations. D ...
(CHOGM), where Commonwealth
heads of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administrati ...
, including (amongst others) prime ministers and presidents, assemble for several days to discuss matters of mutual interest. CHOGM is the successor to the Meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and, earlier, the
Imperial Conference Imperial Conferences (Colonial Conferences before 1907) were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire between 1887 and 1937, before the establishment of regular Meetings of ...
s and Colonial Conferences, dating back to 1887. There are also regular meetings of finance ministers, law ministers, health ministers, etc. Members in arrears, as special members before them, are not invited to send representatives to either ministerial meetings or CHOGMs. The head of government hosting the CHOGM is called the chair-in-office (CIO) and retains the position until the following CHOGM. Since the most recent CHOGM, in the United Kingdom in 2018, the chair-in-office has been the
prime minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
. The next (26th) CHOGM was to have been held in
Kigali Kigali () is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercas ...

Kigali
, Rwanda, in June 2020. Owing to the
COVID-19 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease A contagious disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...

COVID-19
pandemic, it was rescheduled to be held there in the week of 21 June 2021; but, because the pandemic has continued, the meeting has been postponed indefinitely. When it takes place, it will be accompanied by meetings of a Commonwealth Youth Forum, a Commonwealth Women's Forum and a Commonwealth People's Forum.


Commonwealth Secretariat

The
Commonwealth Secretariat The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has so ...
, established in 1965, is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth, facilitating consultation and co-operation among member governments and countries. It is responsible to member governments collectively. The Commonwealth of Nations is represented in the
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), serving as the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN. Its ...
by the secretariat as an
observer An observer is one who engages in observation or in watching an experiment. Observer may also refer to: Computer science and information theory * In information theory Information theory is the scientific study of the quantification, storage ...
. The secretariat organises Commonwealth summits, meetings of ministers, consultative meetings and technical discussions; it assists policy development and provides policy advice, and facilitates multilateral communication among the member governments. It also provides technical assistance to help governments in the social and economic development of their countries and in support of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values.Cook and Paxton, ''Commonwealth Political Facts'' (1978) part 3. The secretariat is headed by the
Commonwealth secretary-general The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the head of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the central body which has served the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. ...
, who is elected by the
Commonwealth heads of government The Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOG) is the collective name for the government leaders of the nations with membership in the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the ...
for no more than two four-year terms. The secretary-general and two deputy secretaries-general direct the divisions of the Secretariat. The present secretary-general is
Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (born 19 August 1955), is a British-Dominican diplomat, barrister and politician, serving as the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations. She wa ...
, from
Dominica Dominica ( or ; Kalinago : ; french: Dominique; Dominican Creole French Dominican Creole French is a French-based creole, which is the generally spoken language in Dominica Dominica ( or ; Kalinago language: ; french: Dominique; Do ...

Dominica
, who took office on 1 April 2016, succeeding
Kamalesh Sharma Kamalesh Sharma, GCVO (born 30 September 1941) is an Indian diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompas ...
of India (2008–2016). The first secretary-general was Arnold Smith of Canada (1965–75), followed by Sir
Shridath Ramphal Sir Shridath Surendranath Ramphal (born 3 October 1928), often known as Sir Sonny Ramphal, is a Guyana, Guyanese politician who was the second Commonwealth Secretary-General, holding the position from 1975 to 1990. He was also the foreign minist ...
of
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be ...

Guyana
(1975–90), Chief
Emeka Anyaoku Chief Emeka Anyaoku, GCVO, CFR, CON (born 18 January 1933)"Anyaoku, Eleazar Chukwuemeka", in ''Africa Who's Who'', London: Africa Journal for Africa Books Ltd, 1981, p. 137. is a Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of N ...
of
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
(1990–99), and
Don McKinnon Sir Donald Charles McKinnon (born 27 February 1939) is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cab ...

Don McKinnon
of New Zealand (2000–2008).


Commonwealth citizenship and high commissioners

Initially, Commonwealth countries were not considered to be "foreign" to each other as their citizens were
British subject The term "British subject" has several different meanings depending on the time period. Before 1949, it referred to almost all citizens of the British Empire (including the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern ...
s and then
Commonwealth citizen A Commonwealth citizen is a citizen or qualified national of a Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former te ...
s. Citizenship laws have evolved independently in each Commonwealth country. For example, in Australia, for the purpose of considering certain constitutional and legal provisions no distinction is made between Commonwealth and foreign countries: in the
High Court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between ...

High Court
case of ''
Sue v Hill ''Sue v Hill'' was an Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous ...
'', other Commonwealth countries (specifically, the United Kingdom) were held to be 'foreign powers'; similarly, in ''Nolan v Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs'', the nationals of other Commonwealth realms were held to be 'aliens'. Nevertheless, some members treat resident citizens of other Commonwealth countries preferentially to citizens of non-Commonwealth countries (see
Commonwealth citizen A Commonwealth citizen is a citizen or qualified national of a Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former te ...
). Britain and several others, mostly in the Caribbean, grant Right of foreigners to vote, the right to vote to Commonwealth citizens who reside in those countries. The closer association amongst Commonwealth countries is reflected in the diplomatic protocols of the Commonwealth countries. For example, when engaging bilaterally with one another, Commonwealth governments exchange High commissioner (Commonwealth), high commissioners instead of ambassadors. In non-Commonwealth countries in which their own country is not represented, Commonwealth citizens may seek consular assistance at the British embassy although it is for the embassy to decide, in its discretion, whether to provide any. Other alternatives can also occur such as an emergency consular services agreement between Canada and Australia that began in 1986.


Membership


Criteria

The criteria for membership of the Commonwealth of Nations have developed over time from a series of separate documents. The Statute of Westminster 1931, as a fundamental founding document of the organisation, laid out that membership required dominionhood. The 1949
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
ended this, allowing republican and indigenous monarchic members on the condition that they recognised the British monarch as "Head of the Commonwealth". In the wake of the wave of
decolonisation Decolonization (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
in the 1960s, these constitutional principles were augmented by political, economic, and social principles. The first of these was set out in 1961, when it was decided that respect for racial equality would be a requirement for membership, leading directly to the withdrawal of South Africa's re-application (which they were required to make under the formula of the London Declaration upon becoming a republic). The 14 points of the 1971 Singapore Declaration dedicated all members to the principles of world peace, liberty,
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Norm (social), normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ...
, egalitarianism, equality, and free trade. These criteria were unenforceable for two decades, until, in 1991, the Harare Declaration was issued, dedicating the leaders to applying the Singapore principles to the completion of decolonisation, the end of the Cold War, and the end of apartheid in South Africa. The mechanisms by which these principles would be applied were created, and the manner clarified, by the 1995 Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme, which created the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which has the power to rule on whether members meet the requirements for membership under the Harare Declaration. Also in 1995, an Inter-Governmental Group was created to finalise and codify the full requirements for membership. Upon reporting in 1997, as adopted under the Edinburgh Declaration, the Inter-Governmental Group ruled that any future members would have to have a direct constitutional link with an existing member. In addition to this new rule, the former rules were consolidated into a single document. These requirements are that members must accept and comply with the Harare Declaration, Harare principles, be fully sovereign states, recognise the monarch of the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s as the head of the Commonwealth, accept the English language as the means of Commonwealth communication, and respect the wishes of the general population with regard to Commonwealth membership. These requirements had undergone review, and a report on potential amendments was presented by the Committee on Commonwealth Membership at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2007, 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. New members were not admitted at this meeting, though applications for admission were considered at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2009, 2009 CHOGM. New members must "as a general rule" have a direct constitutional link to an existing member. In most cases, this is due to being a former colony of the United Kingdom, but some have links to other countries, either exclusively or more directly (e.g. Samoa to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea to Australia, and Namibia to South Africa). The first member to be admitted without having any constitutional link to the British Empire or a Commonwealth member was Mozambique in 1995 following its first democratic elections and South Africa's re-admission in 1994. Mozambique was a former Portuguese colony. Mozambique's controversial entry led to the Edinburgh Declaration and the current membership guidelines. In 2009, Rwanda became the second Commonwealth member admitted not to have any such constitutional links. It was a Belgian United Nations Trust Territories, trust territory that had been a German colony until World War I. Consideration for its admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the
Commonwealth Secretariat The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has so ...
. Rwanda was permitted to join despite the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) finding that "the state of governance and human rights in Rwanda does not satisfy Commonwealth standards”, and that it “does not therefore qualify for admission". CHRI commented that: "It does not make sense to admit a state that already does not satisfy Commonwealth standards. This would tarnish the reputation of the Commonwealth and confirm the opinion of many people and civic organisations that the leaders of its governments do not really care for democracy and human rights, and that its periodic, solemn declarations are merely hot air."


Members

The Commonwealth comprises 54 countries, across all inhabited continents. The members have a combined population of 2.4 billion people, almost a third of the world population, of whom 1.4 billion live in India or 94% live in Asia and Africa combined. After India, the next-largest Commonwealth countries by population are Pakistan (227 million),
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
(213 million), Bangladesh (167 million), and the United Kingdom (68 million). Tuvalu is the smallest member, with about 12,000 people. The land area of the Commonwealth nations is about , or about 21% of the total world land area. The two largest Commonwealth nations by area are Canada at and Australia at . The status of "Member in Arrears" is used to denote those that are in arrears in paying subscription dues. The status was originally known as "Special membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, special membership", but was renamed on the Committee on Commonwealth Membership's recommendation. There are currently no Members in Arrears. The most recent Member in Arrears, Nauru, returned to full membership in June 2011. Nauru has alternated between special and full membership since joining the Commonwealth, depending on its financial situation.


Economy of member countries

In 2019, the Commonwealth members had a combined gross domestic product of over $9 trillion, 78% of which is accounted for by the four largest economies: United Kingdom ($3.124 trillion), India ($3.050 trillion), Canada ($1.652 trillion), and Australia ($1.379 trillion).


Applicants

In 1997 the Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed that, to become a member of the Commonwealth, an applicant country should, as a rule, have had a constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member; that it should comply with Commonwealth values, principles and priorities as set out in the Harare Declaration; and that it should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions. South Sudanese politicians have expressed interest in joining the Commonwealth. A senior Commonwealth source stated in 2006 that "many people have assumed an interest from Israel, but there has been no formal approach". The State of Palestine is also a potential candidate for membership. President Yahya Jammeh unilaterally withdrew The Gambia from the Commonwealth in October 2013. However, 2016 Gambian presidential election, newly elected president Adama Barrow returned the country to the organisation in February 2018. Other eligible applicants could be any of the remaining inhabited
British overseas territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen all with a constitutional and historical link with the . They are remnants of the and do not form part of the United Kingdom its ...

British overseas territories
, Crown dependencies, Australian external territories and the Associated States of New Zealand if they become fully independent. Many such jurisdictions are already directly represented within the Commonwealth, particularly through the Commonwealth Family. There are also former British possessions that have not become independent: for example, although Hong Kong has become part of China, it continues to participate in some of the institutions within the Commonwealth Family. All three of the Crown dependencies regard their existing situation as unsatisfactory and have lobbied for change. The States of Jersey have called on the UK foreign secretary to request that the Commonwealth heads of government "consider granting associate membership to Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies as well as any other territories at a similarly advanced stage of autonomy". Jersey has proposed that it be accorded "self-representation in all Commonwealth meetings; full participation in debates and procedures, with a right to speak where relevant and the opportunity to enter into discussions with those who are full members; and no right to vote in the Ministerial or Heads of Government meetings, which is reserved for full members". The States of Guernsey and the Government of the Isle of Man have made calls of a similar nature for a more integrated relationship with the Commonwealth, including more direct representation and enhanced participation in Commonwealth organisations and meetings, including Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. The chief minister of the Isle of Man has said: "A closer connection with the Commonwealth itself would be a welcome further development of the Island's international relationships".


Suspension

Members can be suspended "from the Councils of the Commonwealth" for "serious or persistent violations" of the Harare Declaration, particularly in abrogating their responsibility to have democratic government. Suspensions are agreed by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which meets regularly to address potential breaches of the Harare Declaration. Suspended members are not represented at meetings of Commonwealth leaders and ministers, although they remain members of the organisation.
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
was suspended between 11 November 1995 and 29 May 1999, following its execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1995, 1995 CHOGM. Pakistan was the second country to be suspended, on 18 October 1999, following the 1999 Pakistani coup d'état, military coup by Pervez Musharraf. The Commonwealth's longest suspension came to an end on 22 May 2004, when Pakistan's suspension was lifted following the restoration of Constitution of Pakistan, the country's constitution. Pakistan was suspended for a second time, far more briefly, for six months from 22 November 2007, when Musharraf 2007 Pakistani state of emergency, called a state of emergency. Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns regarding the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF government, before it withdrew from the organisation in 2003. On 15 May 2018, Zimbabwe applied to rejoin the Commonwealth. The declaration of a Republic in Fiji in 1987, after 1987 Fijian coups d'état, military coups designed to deny Indo-Fijians political power, was not accompanied by an application to remain. Commonwealth membership was held to have lapsed until 1997, after discriminatory provisions in the republican constitution were repealed and reapplication for membership made. Fiji has since been suspended twice, with the first imposed from 6 June 2000 to 20 December 2001 after 2000 Fijian coup d'état, another coup. Fiji was suspended yet again in December 2006, following 2006 Fijian coup d'état, the most recent coup. At first, the suspension applied only to membership on the Councils of the Commonwealth. After failing to meet a Commonwealth deadline for setting a date for national elections by 2010, Fiji was "fully suspended" on 1 September 2009. The secretary-general of the Commonwealth,
Kamalesh Sharma Kamalesh Sharma, GCVO (born 30 September 1941) is an Indian diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompas ...
, confirmed that full suspension meant that Fiji would be excluded from Commonwealth meetings, Commonwealth Games, sporting events and the technical assistance programme (with an exception for assistance in re-establishing democracy). Sharma stated that Fiji would remain a member of the Commonwealth during its suspension, but would be excluded from emblematic representation by the secretariat. On 19 March 2014 Fiji's full suspension was amended to a suspension from councils of the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, permitting Fiji to join a number of Commonwealth activities, including the Commonwealth Games. Fiji's suspension was lifted in September 2014. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group fully reinstated Fiji as a member following 2014 Fijian general election, elections in September 2014. Most recently, during 2013 and 2014, international pressure mounted to suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth, citing grave human rights violations by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. There were also calls to change the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013 from Sri Lanka to another member country. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper threatened to boycott the event, but was instead represented at the meeting by Deepak Obhrai. UK Prime Minister David Cameron also chose to attend. These concerns were rendered moot by 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election, the election of opposition leader Maithripala Sirisena as president in 2015.


Termination

As membership is purely voluntary, member governments can choose at any time to leave the Commonwealth. Pakistan left on 30 January 1972 in protest at the Commonwealth's recognition of breakaway Bangladesh, but rejoined on 2 August 1989. Zimbabwe's membership was suspended in 2002 on the grounds of Human rights in Zimbabwe, alleged human rights violations and deliberate misgovernment, and Zimbabwe's government terminated its membership in 2003. The Gambia left the Commonwealth on 3 October 2013, and rejoined on 8 February 2018. The Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth on 13 October 2016. The Minister of Foreign Affairs (Maldives), Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that "the Commonwealth has not recognised [...] the progress and achievements that the Maldives accomplished in cultivating a culture of democracy in the country and in building and strengthening democratic institutions". The Ministry also cited the Commonwealth's "punitive actions against the Maldives since 2012" after the allegedly forced resignation of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed among the reasons for withdrawal. The Ministry characterized the decision to withdraw as "difficult, but inevitable". Following the election of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as president in November 2018, the Maldives announced its intention to reapply to join the Commonwealth. They rejoined on 1 February 2020. Although heads of government have the power to suspend member states from active participation, the Commonwealth has no provision for the expulsion of members. Until 1948, there was a consensus among the existing half-dozen Commonwealth members that
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s that became a republic would cease to be members but the situation changed in 1948 when newly independent India announced its intention to become a republic on 1 January 1950 although it wished to remain in the Commonwealth. This was granted. Now, the majority of the Commonwealth members, including all those from Africa, are republics or have their own native monarch. Ireland withdrew from participation in the Commonwealth in the 1930s, attending its last Commonwealth governmental heads' meeting in 1932. For some years Ireland considered itself to be a republic outside the Commonwealth but the Commonwealth considered Ireland to still be a Commonwealth member. Its treatment as a member ended on 18 April 1949 when Irish legislation that the Commonwealth chose to regard as having caused Ireland to become a republic became law. It is the only country whose membership terminated without any declaration withdrawing from the organisation. Instead, it was (with its own tacit support) excluded from the organisation. South Africa was barred from continuing as a member after it became a republic in 1961, due to hostility from many members, particularly those in Africa and Asia as well as Canada, to its policy of racial apartheid. The South African government withdrew its application to remain in the organisation as a republic when it became clear at the 1961 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference that any such application would be rejected. South Africa was re-admitted to the Commonwealth in 1994, following its 1994 South African general election, first multiracial elections that year. The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 ended the territory's status as a part of the Commonwealth through the United Kingdom. Non-sovereign states or regions are not permitted to become members of the Commonwealth. The government of the People's Republic of China has not pursued membership. Hong Kong has nevertheless continued to participate in some of the organisations of the #Commonwealth Family, Commonwealth family, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (hosted the Commonwealth Lawyers Conference in 1983 and 2009), the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (and the Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedures), the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel, as well as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).


Politics


Objectives and activities

The Commonwealth's objectives were first outlined in the 1971 Singapore Declaration, which committed the Commonwealth to the institution of world peace; promotion of representative democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality and opposition to racism; the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease; and free trade. To these were added opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender by the Lusaka Declaration of 1979, and environmental sustainability by the Langkawi Declaration of 1989. These objectives were reinforced by the Harare Declaration in 1991. The Commonwealth's current highest-priority aims are on the promotion of democracy and development, as outlined in the 2003 Aso Rock, Aso Rock Declaration, which built on those in Singapore and Harare and clarified their terms of reference, stating, "We are committed to democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality, and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of globalisation." The Commonwealth website lists its areas of work as: democracy, economics, education, gender, governance, human rights, law, small states, sport, sustainability, and youth. Through a separate voluntary fund, Commonwealth governments support the Commonwealth Youth Programme, a division of the Secretariat with offices in Gulu (Uganda), Lusaka (Zambia), Chandigarh (India), Georgetown, Guyana, Georgetown (Guyana) and Honiara (Solomon Islands).


Competence

In recent years, the Commonwealth has been accused of not being vocal enough on its core values. Allegations of a leaked memo from the Secretary General instructing staff not to speak out on human rights were published in October 2010. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 considered a report by a Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG) panel which asserted that the organisation had lost its relevance and was decaying due to the lack of a mechanism to censure member countries when they violated human rights or democratic norms. The panel made 106 "urgent" recommendations including the adoption of a Charter of the Commonwealth, the creation of a new commissioner on the rule of law, democracy and human rights to track persistent human rights abuses and allegations of political repression by Commonwealth member states, recommendations for the repeal of LGBT rights by country or territory, laws against homosexuality in 41 Commonwealth states and a ban on forced marriage. The failure to release the report, or accept its recommendations for reforms in the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, was decried as a "disgrace" by former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a member of the EPG, who told a press conference: "The Commonwealth faces a very significant problem. It's not a problem of hostility or antagonism, it's more of a problem of indifference. Its purpose is being questioned, its relevance is being questioned and part of that is because its commitment to enforce the values for which it stands is becoming ambiguous in the eyes of many member states. The Commonwealth is not a private club of the governments or the secretariat. It belongs to the people of the Commonwealth." In the end, two-thirds of the EPG's 106 urgently recommended reforms were referred to study groups, an act described by one EPG member as having them "kicked into the long grass". There was no agreement to create the recommended position of human rights commissioner, instead a ministerial management group was empowered with enforcement: the group includes alleged human rights offenders. It was agreed to develop a charter of values for the Commonwealth without any decision on how compliance with its principles would be enforced. The result of the effort was that a new Charter of the Commonwealth was signed by Queen Elizabeth on 11 March 2013 at Marlborough House, which opposes "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds".


Economy


Economic data by member


Postwar

During the Second World War, the Commonwealth played a major role in helping British finances. Foreign exchange reserves were pooled in London, to be used to fight the war. In effect Britain procured £2.3 billion, of which £1.3 billion was from India. The debt was held in the form of British government securities and became known as "sterling balances". By 1950, India, Pakistan and Ceylon had spent much of their sterling, while other countries accumulated more. The sterling area that included all of the Commonwealth except for Canada, together with some smaller countries especially in the Persian Gulf. They held their foreign-exchange in sterling, protecting that currency from runs, and facilitating trade and investment inside the Commonwealth. It was a formal relationship with fixed exchange rates, and periodic meetings at Commonwealth summits to coordinate trade policy, and domestic economic policies. Britain ran a trade surplus, and the other countries were mostly producers of raw materials sold to Britain. However the commercial rationale was gradually less attractive to the Commonwealth. Access to the growing London capital market, however, remained an important advantage to the newly independent nations. As Britain moved increasingly close to Europe, however, the long-term ties began to be in doubt.


UK joins the European Economic Community

By 1961, with a sluggish economy, Britain repeatedly tried to join the European Economic Community, but this was repeatedly vetoed by Charles de Gaulle. After his death, Accession of the United Kingdom to the European Communities, entry was finally achieved in 1973. Queen Elizabeth was one of the few remaining links between the UK and the Commonwealth. She tried to reassure the other countries that the Commonwealth family was joining forces with the Europeans, and that the new links would not replace the old Commonwealth ties based on historical attachments, which were too sacred to break. Historian Ben Pimlott argues that she was mistaken, for joining Europe "constituted the most decisive step yet in the progress of severance of familial ties between Britain and its former Empire....It reduced the remaining links to sentimental and cultural ones, and legal niceties." The newly independent countries of Africa and Asia concentrated on their own internal political and economic development, and sometimes their role in the Cold War. The United States, international agencies, and the Soviet Union became important players, and the British role receded. Indeed, the British considered the newly independent countries burdensome and were themselves alienated from traditional imperialism. Many former colonies saw Britain as a declining loner and preferred a prosperous Britain linked to a prosperous Europe. The dominions saw their historic ties with Britain were rapidly fraying. The Canadian economy increasingly focused on trade with the United States, and had less to do with Britain or other Commonwealth nations. Internal Canadian disputes revolved around the growing American cultural economic presence, and the strong force of Quebec nationalism. In 1964 the Flag of Canada, Maple Leaf flag replaced the Canadian Ensign to the Great Canadian Flag Debate, sorrow of many Anglophiles—it was "the last gasp of empire". Australia and New Zealand were in deep shock but kept a low profile not wanting to alienate London. Nevertheless, the implications of British entry into Europe: :seemed shattering to most Australians, particularly to older people and conservatives. In fact the United Kingdom, as Australia's chief trading partner, was being very rapidly replaced just at this time by the United States and an economically resurgent Japan, but most people were scarcely aware of this.... It was feared that British entry into the Common Market was bound to mean abolition, or at least scaling down, of preferential tariff arrangements for Australians goods.


Trade

Although the Commonwealth does not have a multilateral trade agreement, research by the Royal Commonwealth Society has shown that trade with another Commonwealth member is up to 50% more than with a non-member on average, with smaller and less wealthy states having a higher propensity to trade within the Commonwealth. At the 2005 Summit in Malta, the heads of government endorsed pursuing free trade among Commonwealth members on a bilateral basis. Following its vote in June 2016 to leave the EU, some politicians in the United Kingdom have suggested the idea as an alternative to its Member state of the European Union, membership in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, however it is far from clear that this would either offer sufficient economic benefit to replace the impact of leaving the EU or be acceptable to other member states Although the EU is already in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with many Commonwealth countries such as India and Canada, it took the EU almost ten years to come to an agreement with Canada, due to the challenge associated with achieving the necessary EU-wide approvals.


Commonwealth Family

Commonwealth countries share many links outside government, with over a hundred Commonwealth-wide non-governmental organisations, notably for sport, culture, education, law and charity. The Association of Commonwealth Universities is an important vehicle for academic links, particularly through scholarships, principally the Commonwealth Scholarship, for students to study in university, universities in other Commonwealth countries. There are also many non-official associations that bring together individuals who work within the spheres of law and government, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.


Commonwealth Foundation

The
Commonwealth Foundation The Commonwealth Foundation (CF) is an intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of o ...
is an intergovernmental organisation, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth governments, and guided by Commonwealth values and priorities. Its mandate is to strengthen civil society in the achievement of Commonwealth priorities: democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and gender equality, poverty eradication, people-centred and sustainable development, and to promote arts and culture. The Foundation was established in 1965 by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, Heads of Government. Admittance is open to all members of the Commonwealth, and in December 2008, stood at 46 out of the 53 member countries. Associate Membership, which is open to associated states or overseas territories of member governments, has been granted to Gibraltar. 2005 saw celebrations for the Foundation's 40th Anniversary. The Foundation is headquartered in Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London. Regular liaison and co-operation between the Secretariat and the Foundation is in place. The Foundation continues to serve the broad purposes for which it was established as written in the Memorandum of Understanding.


Commonwealth Games

The
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
, a multi-sport event, is held every four years; the 2014 Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Queensland, Gold Coast, Australia. Birmingham is set to be the host for 2022 Commonwealth Games. As well as the usual athletic disciplines, as at the Summer Olympic Games, the games include sports particularly popular in the Commonwealth, such as bowls, netball, and rugby sevens. Started in 1930 as the Empire Games, the games were founded on the Olympic model of amateurism, but were deliberately designed to be "the Friendly Games", with the goal of promoting relations between Commonwealth countries and celebrating their shared sporting and cultural heritage. The games are the Commonwealth's most visible activity and interest in the operation of the Commonwealth increases greatly when the Games are held. There is controversy over whether the games—and sport generally—should be involved in the Commonwealth's wider political concerns. The 1977 Gleneagles Agreement was signed to commit Commonwealth countries to combat apartheid through discouraging sporting contact with South Africa (which was not then a member), whilst the 1986 Commonwealth Games, 1986 games were boycotted by most African, Asian, and Caribbean countries for the failure of other countries to enforce the Gleneagles Agreement.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for maintaining the war graves of 1.7 million service personnel that died in the First and Second World Wars fighting for Commonwealth member states. Founded in 1917 (as the Imperial War Graves Commission), the commission has constructed 2,500 war cemetery, war cemeteries, and maintains individual graves at another 20,000 sites around the world. The vast majority of the latter are civilian cemeteries in Britain. In 1998, the CWGC made the records of its buried online to facilitate easier searching. Commonwealth war cemeteries often feature similar horticulture and architecture, with larger cemeteries being home to a Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance. The CWGC is notable for marking the graves identically, regardless of the rank, country of origin, race, or religion of the buried. It is funded by voluntary agreement by six Commonwealth members, in proportion to the nationality of the casualties in the graves maintained, with 75% of the funding coming from Britain.


Commonwealth of Learning

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.


Commonwealth Local Government Forum

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) is a global local government organisation, bringing together local authorities, their national associations and the ministries responsible for local government in the member countries of the Commonwealth. CLGF works with national and local governments to support the development of Democracy, democratic values and good local governance and is the associated organisation officially recognised by Commonwealth Heads of Government as the representative body for local government in the Commonwealth. CLGF is unique in bringing together central, provincial and local spheres of government involved in local government policy and decision-making. CLGF members include local government associations, individual local authorities, ministries dealing with local government, and research and professional organisations who work with local government. Practitioner to practitioner support is at the core of CLGF's work across the Commonwealth and within the region, using CLGF's own members to support others both within and between regions. CLGF is a member of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, the formal partner of the UN Major Group of Local Authorities.


Culture

Many Commonwealth nations possess traditions and customs that are elements of a shared Commonwealth culture. Examples include common sports such as cricket and rugby football, rugby, driving on the left, the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, common law, List of countries by English-speaking population, widespread use of the English language, List of countries where English is an official language, designation of English as an official language, Military rank, military and naval ranks, and the use of British rather than American spelling conventions (see English in the Commonwealth of Nations).


Sport

Many Commonwealth nations play similar sports that are considered quintessentially British in character, rooted in and developed under British rule or hegemony, including cricket, association football, football, rugby football, rugby and netball. This has led to the development of friendly national rivalries between the main sporting nations that have often defined their relations with each other. Indeed, said rivalries preserved close ties by providing a constant in international relationships, even as the Empire transformed into the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
. Externally, playing these sports is seen to be a sign of sharing a certain Commonwealth culture; the adoption of Rwanda Cricket Association, cricket at schools in Rwanda is seen as symbolic of the country's move towards Commonwealth membership.


Literature

The shared history of British presence has produced a substantial body of writing in many languages, known as Commonwealth literature. The Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies has 11 branches worldwide and holds an international conference every three years. In 1987, the Commonwealth Foundation established the annual Commonwealth Writers' Prize "to encourage and reward the upsurge of new Commonwealth fiction and ensure that works of merit reach a wider audience outside their country of origin". Prizes are awarded for the best book and best first book in the Commonwealth; there are also regional prizes for the best book and best first book in each of four regions. Although not officially affiliated with the Commonwealth, the prestigious annual Booker Prize, Man Booker Prize, one of the highest honours in literature, used to be awarded only to authors from Commonwealth countries or former members such as Ireland and Zimbabwe. Since 2014, however, writers of any nationality have been eligible for the prize providing that they write originally in English and their novels are published by established publishers in the United Kingdom. There had been a few important works in English prior to 1950 from the then
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. From 1950 on, a significant number of writers from the countries of the Commonwealth began gaining international recognition, including some who migrated to the United Kingdom. The South African literature, South African writer Olive Schreiner's famous novel ''The Story of an African Farm'' was published in 1883 and New Zealand literature, New Zealander Katherine Mansfield published her first collection of short stories, ''In a German Pension'', in 1911. The first major novelist, writing in English, from the Indian English literature, Indian sub-continent, R. K. Narayan, began publishing in England in the 1930s, thanks to the encouragement of English novelist Graham Greene. Caribbean literature, Caribbean writer Jean Rhys's writing career began as early as 1928, though her most famous work, ''Wide Sargasso Sea'', was not published until 1966. South Africa's Alan Paton's famous ''Cry, the Beloved Country'' dates from 1948. Doris Lessing from Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, was a dominant presence in the English literary scene, frequently publishing from 1950 on throughout the 20th century. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. Salman Rushdie is another post-Second World War writer from the former British colonies who Migrant literature, permanently settled in Britain. Rushdie achieved fame with ''Midnight's Children'' (1981). His most controversial novel, ''The Satanic Verses'' (1989), was inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. V. S. Naipaul (born 1932), born in Trinidad, was another immigrant, who wrote among other things ''A Bend in the River'' (1979). Naipaul won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. Many other Commonwealth writers have achieved an international reputation for works in English, including Nigerian literature, Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, and playwright Wole Soyinka. Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, as did South African novelist Nadine Gordimer in 1995. Other South African writers in English are novelist J. M. Coetzee (Nobel Prize 2003) and playwright Athol Fugard. Kenyan literature, Kenya's most internationally renowned author is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, who has written novels, plays and short stories in English. Poet Derek Walcott, from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, was another Nobel Prize winner in 1992. An Australian literature, Australian, Patrick White, a major novelist in this period, whose first work was published in 1939, won in 1973. Other noteworthy Australian writers at the end of this period are poet Les Murray (poet), Les Murray, and novelist Peter Carey (novelist), Peter Carey, who is one of only four writers to have won the Man Booker Prize, Booker Prize twice.


Political system

Due to their shared constitutional histories, several countries in the Commonwealth have similar legal and political systems. The Commonwealth requires its members to be functioning democracies that respect
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and the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
. Most Commonwealth countries have the bicameral Westminster system of parliamentary system, parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association facilitates co-operation between legislatures across the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum promotes good governance amongst local government officials. Most Commonwealth members use common law, modelled on English law. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the supreme court of 14 Commonwealth members.


Symbols

The Commonwealth has adopted a number of symbols that represent the association of its members. The English language is recognised as a symbol of the members' heritage; as well as being considered a symbol of the Commonwealth, recognition of it as "the means of Commonwealth communication" is a prerequisite for Commonwealth membership. The flag of the Commonwealth consists of the symbol of the Commonwealth Secretariat, a gold globe surrounded by emanating rays, on a dark blue field; it was designed for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1973, second CHOGM in 1973, and officially adopted on 26 March 1976. 1976 also saw the organisation agree to a common date on which to commemorate Commonwealth Day, the second Monday in March, having developed separately on different dates from Empire Day celebrations.


Recognition

In 2009, to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth, the Royal Commonwealth Society commissioned a poll of public opinion in seven of the member states: Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. It found that most people in these countries were largely ignorant of the Commonwealth's activities, aside from the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
, and indifferent toward its future. Support for the Commonwealth was twice as high in developing countries as in developed countries; it was lowest in Britain.


Commonwealth Anthem

Also to mark the 60th anniversary (Diamond Jubilee) of the Commonwealth in 2009, the Commonwealth Secretariat commissioned Paul Carroll to compose "The Commonwealth Anthem". The lyrics of the Anthem are taken from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Commonwealth has published the Anthem, performed by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra, with and without an introductory narrative.


See also

* Anglosphere * Community of Portuguese Language Countries, an equivalent grouping of Portuguese language, Portuguese-speaking countries and territories * English-speaking world * Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, La Francophonie * List of country groupings * List of multilateral free-trade agreements * List of Commonwealth of Nations countries by GDP * List of Commonwealth of Nations prime ministers * Organization of Ibero-American States * Representatives of the Commonwealth of Nations * Special Relationship, the common name for the United Kingdom–United States relations, relations between the United Kingdom and the United States


Notes


References


Further reading

* Ashton, Sarah R. "British government perspectives on the Commonwealth, 1964–71: An asset or a liability?." ''Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History'' 35.1 (2007): 73–94. * Bloomfield, Valerie. ''Commonwealth Elections 1945–1970'' (1976). * Cook, Chris and John Paxton. ''Commonwealth Political Facts'' (Macmillan, 1978). * Hall, H. Duncan. "The genesis of the Balfour declaration of 1926." ''Journal of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics'' 1.3 (1962): 169–193. * Holland, Robert F. ''Britain and the Commonwealth Alliance, 1918-39'' (Springer, 1981). * * Lloyd, Lorna. ''Diplomacy with a difference: the Commonwealth Office of High Commissioner, 1880–2006'' (Brill, 2007). * McIntyre, W. David. "The strange death of dominion status." ''Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History'' 27.2 (1999): 193–212. * McIntyre, W. David. ''The commonwealth of nations: Origins and impact, 1869–1971'' (U of Minnesota Press, 1977); Comprehensive coverage giving London's perspective on political and constitutional relations with each possession. * McIntyre, W. David. ''A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth'', Palgrave, 2001. . * McIntyre, W. David. "The Unofficial Commonwealth Relations Conferences, 1933–59: Precursors of the Tri-sector Commonwealth." ''Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History'' 36.4 (2008): 591–614. * Madden, Frederick and John Darwin, eds. ''The Dependent Empire, 1900–1948: Colonies, Protectorates, and the Mandates'' (1994) 908 p
online
* Maitland, Donald. ed. ''Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe'' (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2001
online
* Mansergh, Nicholas ''The Commonwealth in the World'', University of Toronto Press, 1982. . * Moore, R.J. ''Making the New Commonwealth'', Clarendon Press, 1988. . * Murphy, Philip. ''Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth'' (Oxford UP 2013) * Perkin, Harold. "Teaching the nations how to play: sport and society in the British empire and Commonwealth." ''International Journal of the History of Sport'' 6.2 (1989): 145–155. * Shaw, Timothy M. ''Commonwealth: Inter- and Non-State Contributions to Global Governance'', Routledge, 2008. * Srinivasan, Krishnan. ''The rise, decline and future of the British Commonwealth.'' (Springer, 2005). * Wheare, K. C. ''The Constitutional Structure of the Commonwealth'', Clarendon Press, 1960. . * Williams, Paul D. "Blair's Britain and the Commonwealth." ''The Round Table'' 94.380 (2005): 381–391. * Winks, Robin, ed. ''The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources'' (1966
online


Primary sources

* Madden, Frederick, ed. ''The End of Empire: Dependencies since 1948: Select Documents on the Constitutional History of the British Empire and Commonwealth: The West Indies, British Honduras, Hong Kong, Fiji, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falklands'' (2000
online
596pp * Madden, Frederick, and John Darwin, ed. ''The Dependent Empire: 1900–1948: Colonies, Protectorates, and Mandates'' (1963) 908p
online
* Mansergh, Nicholas, ed. ''Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952–1962'' (1963) 804p
online


External links


Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth of Nations Network

Commonwealth Foundation

The Royal Commonwealth Society

The Commonwealth Countries League
{{DEFAULTSORT:Commonwealth Of Nations Commonwealth of Nations, Intergovernmental organizations International organisations based in London Organizations established in 1949 Political history of Australia Political history of Canada Political history of the United Kingdom English-speaking countries and territories