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The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations[2] (formerly the British Commonwealth),[3][1] also known as simply the Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.[4] The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states, organised through the Commonwealth Secretariat and non-governmental organisations, organised through the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Foundation.[5] The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
dates back to the mid-20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire
British Empire
through increased self-governance of its territories. It was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which established the member states as "free and equal".[6] The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II who is the Head of the Commonwealth, and while there are over 31 republics and five monarchies who have a different monarch, the Queen is the ceremonial head of state and reigning constitutional monarch of only 16 members of the Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth
Commonwealth
realms. The position of the crown remains legally distinct from the position of monarch and the position of the Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen has since ceased to be the head of state or have any formal position in several nations of the commonwealth including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia
Malaysia
and Singapore.[7] Member states have no legal obligation to one another. Instead, they are united by language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, free speech, human rights, and the rule of law.[5] These values are enshrined in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Charter[8] and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games. The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
covers more than 29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi), equivalent to 20% of the world's land area. It spans all six inhabited continents. With an estimated population of 2.419 billion people, nearly a third of the world population,[9] the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in 2014 produced a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $10.45 trillion, representing 14% of the gross world product when measured nominally and 17% of the gross world product when measured in purchasing power parity (PPP).

Contents

1 History

1.1 Origin 1.2 Dominions 1.3 Decolonisation
Decolonisation
and self-governance 1.4 Declining roles 1.5 Republics 1.6 New Commonwealth 1.7 Plan G and inviting Europe to join

2 Structure

2.1 Head of the Commonwealth 2.2 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2.3 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Secretariat 2.4 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
citizenship and high commissioners

3 Membership

3.1 Criteria 3.2 Members 3.3 Applicants 3.4 Suspension 3.5 Termination

4 Politics

4.1 Objectives and activities 4.2 Competence 4.3 Proposed free movement policy

5 Economy

5.1 Economic data by member 5.2 Postwar

5.2.1 UK joins the European Economic Community

5.3 Trade

6 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Family

6.1 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Foundation 6.2 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games 6.3 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
War Graves Commission 6.4 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Learning 6.5 The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Local Government Forum

7 Culture

7.1 Sport 7.2 Literature

7.2.1 English as official language

7.3 Political system 7.4 Symbols 7.5 Recognition

8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 Further reading

11.1 Primary sources

12 External links

History Origin Main articles: British Empire
British Empire
and Historiography of the British Empire

The prime ministers of five members at the 1944 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Prime Ministers' Conference. (L-R) Mackenzie King
Mackenzie King
(Canada); Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
(South Africa); Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
(United Kingdom); Peter Fraser (New Zealand); John Curtin
John Curtin
(Australia)

Queen Elizabeth II, in her address to Canada
Canada
on Dominion
Dominion
Day in 1959, pointed out that the confederation of Canada
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
Commonwealth
of Nations."[10] As long ago as 1884 Lord Rosebery had described, while visiting Australia, the changing British Empire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a " Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations".[11] Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers occurred periodically from the first one in 1887, leading to the creation of the Imperial Conferences in 1911.[12] The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
developed from the imperial conferences. A specific proposal was presented by Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations" and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 by delegates from the Dominions as well as Britain.[13][14] The term first received imperial statutory recognition in the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
of 1921, when the term British Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations was substituted for British Empire
British Empire
in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State.[15] Dominions In the Balfour Declaration 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
Commonwealth
of Nations." These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which applied to Canada
Canada
without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundland 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
Canada
as its 10th province in 1949.[16] Australia
Australia
and New Zealand
New Zealand
ratified the Statute in 1942 and 1947 respectively.[17][18] Although the Union of South Africa
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.[19] Decolonisation
Decolonisation
and self-governance Main article: List of countries that have gained independence from the United Kingdom After World War II
World War II
ended, the British Empire
British Empire
was gradually dismantled. Most of its components have become independent countries, whether Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
or republics, and members of the Commonwealth. There remain the 14 mainly self-governing British overseas territories which retain some political association with the United Kingdom. In April 1949, following the London
London
Declaration, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
to reflect its changing nature.[20] Burma
Burma
(also known as Myanmar, 1948) and Aden
Aden
(1967) are the only states that were British colonies at the time of the war not to have joined the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
upon independence. Former British protectorates and mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
are Egypt
Egypt
(independent in 1922), Iraq
Iraq
(1932), Transjordan (1946), British Palestine
British Palestine
(part of which became the state of Israel
Israel
in 1948), Sudan
Sudan
(1956), British Somaliland
British Somaliland
(which united with the former Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland
in 1960 to form the Somali Republic), Kuwait (1961), Bahrain
Bahrain
(1971), Oman
Oman
(1971), Qatar
Qatar
(1971), and the United Arab Emirates (1971).[21] Declining roles The postwar Commonwealth
Commonwealth
was given a fresh mission by Queen Elizabeth in her Christmas Day 1953 broadcast, where she envisioned the Commonwealth
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."[22] Hoped for success was reinforced by such achievements as climbing Mount Everest in 1953, breaking the four minute mile in 1954, and in 1966 a solo circumnavigation of the globe.[23] However, the humiliation of the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
of 1956 badly hurt morale of Britain and the Commonwealth
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
NATO
military alliance in which the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
had no role apart from Canada. The ANZUS treaty of 1955 linked Australia, New Zealand, and the United States
United States
in a defensive alliance, with Britain and the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
left out. The second major function of the Empire made London
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 early 20th century vision of a world empire that could combine Imperial preference, mutual defence, and social growth arm. Furthermore, Britain's cosmopolitan role in world affairs became increasingly limited, especially with the losses of India
India
and Singapore.[24] While British elites at first hoped the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
would preserve and project British influence, they gradually lost their enthusiasm, argues Krishnan Srinivasan. Early enthusiasm waned as British policies came under fire in Commonwealth
Commonwealth
meetings. Public opinion became troubled as immigration from non-white member states became large-scale.[25] Republics On 18 April 1949, Ireland formally became a republic in accordance with the Irish Republic
Republic
of Ireland Act 1948. Because it did this, it was automatically excluded from the Commonwealth. While Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
since the early 1930s and was content to leave the Commonwealth, other dominions wished to become republics without losing Commonwealth
Commonwealth
ties. The issue came to a head in April 1949 at a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
prime ministers' meeting in London. Under the London
London
Declaration, India
India
agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, it would 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
told the Indian politician Krishna Menon: "So, I've become 'as such'".[26] The other Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries recognised India's continuing membership of the association. At Pakistan's insistence, India
India
was not regarded as an exceptional case and it was assumed that other states would be accorded the same treatment as India.[citation needed] The London
London
Declaration is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern Commonwealth. Following India's precedent, other nations became republics, or constitutional monarchies with their own monarchs, while some countries retained the same monarch as the United Kingdom, but their monarchies developed differently and soon became fully independent of the British monarchy. The monarch is regarded as a separate legal personality in each realm, even though the same person is monarch of each realm.[citation needed] New Commonwealth Planners in the interwar period, like Lord Davies, who had also taken "a prominent part in building up the League of Nations
League of Nations
Union" in the United Kingdom, in 1932 founded the New Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Society, of which British section Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
became the president.[27] This new society was aimed at the creation of an international air force to be the arm of the League of Nations, to allow nations to disarm and safeguard the peace.[citation needed] The term New Commonwealth
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 from these countries.[28] Britain and the pre-1945 dominions became informally known as the Old Commonwealth, or more pointedly as the white Commonwealth.[29] Plan G and inviting Europe to join At a time when Germany and France, together with Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, were planning for what later became the 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
Commonwealth
was four times larger than trade with Europe. The British government under Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
considered in 1956 and 1957 a "plan G" to create a European free trade zone while also protecting the favoured status of the Commonwealth.[30][31][32] Britain also considered inviting Scandinavian and other European countries to join the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
so it would become a major economic common market. At one point in October 1956 Eden and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet
Guy Mollet
discussed having France
France
join the Commonwealth.[33] Nothing came of any of the proposals.[34] Structure Head of the Commonwealth Main article: Head of the Commonwealth

Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth

Under the formula of the London
London
Declaration, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
is the Head of the Commonwealth, a title that is by law a part of Elizabeth's royal titles in each of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
realms,[35] the 16 members of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
that recognise the Queen as their monarch. However, when the monarch dies, the successor to the crown does not automatically become Head of the Commonwealth.[36] The position is symbolic, representing the free association of independent members,[35] the majority of which (31) are republics, and five have monarchs of different royal houses (Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga). Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Main article: Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting The main decision-making forum of the organisation is the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
(CHOGM), where Commonwealth heads of government, 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
Commonwealth
Prime Ministers and, earlier, the Imperial Conferences 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.[35] The head of government hosting the CHOGM is called the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office and retains the position until the following CHOGM.[37] After the most recent CHOGM, in Valletta, Malta, from 26 to 29 November 2015 Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, became the Chairperson-in-Office and will continue to hold the title until the next CHOGM.[citation needed] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Secretariat Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Secretariat

Marlborough House, London, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth's principal intergovernmental institution

The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Secretariat, 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
United Nations General Assembly
by the secretariat as an observer. 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.[38] The secretariat is headed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General
Commonwealth Secretary-General
who is elected by Commonwealth
Commonwealth
heads of government 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, from Dominica, who took office on 1 April 2016, succeeding Kamalesh Sharma
Kamalesh Sharma
of India
India
(2008–2016). The first secretary-general was Arnold Smith of Canada
Canada
(1965–75), followed by Sir Shridath Ramphal of Guyana
Guyana
(1975–90), Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990–99), and Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon
of New Zealand
New Zealand
(2000–2008).[38] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
citizenship and high commissioners Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
citizen In recognition of their shared heritage and culture, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to each other,[39][40][41] although the technical extent of this concept varies in different countries. For example, in Australia, for the purpose of considering certain constitutional and legal provisions no distinction is made between Commonwealth
Commonwealth
and foreign countries: in the High Court case of Sue v Hill, other Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries were held to be foreign powers; similarly, in Nolan v Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the nationals of other Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
were held to be 'aliens'. Nevertheless, the closer association amongst Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries is reflected at least in the diplomatic protocols of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries. For example, when engaging bilaterally with one another, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
governments exchange high commissioners instead of ambassadors. Between two Commonwealth
Commonwealth
realms, they represent the head of government rather than the head of state.[citation needed] In addition, some members treat resident citizens of other Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries preferentially to citizens of non-Commonwealth countries. Britain and several others, mostly in the Caribbean, grant the right to vote to Commonwealth
Commonwealth
citizens who reside in those countries. In non- Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries in which their own country is not represented, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
citizens may seek consular assistance at the British embassy.[42] Other alternatives can also occur such as an emergency consular services agreement between Canada
Canada
and Australia that began in 1986.[43] Membership

Members of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
shaded according to their political status. Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
are shown in blue, republics in pink, and members with their own monarchy are displayed in green.

Criteria Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations membership criteria The criteria for membership of the Commonwealth
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
London
Declaration ended this, allowing republican and indigenous monarchic members on the condition that they recognised the British monarch as the "Head of the Commonwealth".[44] In the wake of the wave of decolonisation 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
London
Declaration upon becoming a republic). The 14 points of the 1971 Singapore
Singapore
Declaration dedicated all members to the principles of world peace, liberty, human rights, equality, and free trade.[45] These criteria were unenforceable for two decades,[46] until, in 1991, the Harare Declaration was issued, dedicating the leaders to applying the Singapore
Singapore
principles to the completion of decolonisation, the end of the Cold War, and the end of apartheid in South Africa.[47] The mechanisms by which these principles would be applied were created, and the manner clarified, by the 1995 Millbrook Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Action Programme, which created the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which has the power to rule on whether members meet the requirements for membership under the Harare Declaration.[48] 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.[49] 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 principles, be fully sovereign states, recognise the monarch of the Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
as the Head of the Commonwealth, accept the English language
English language
as the means of Commonwealth communication, and respect the wishes of the general population with regard to Commonwealth
Commonwealth
membership.[49] These requirements had undergone review, and a report on potential amendments was presented by the Committee on Commonwealth Membership at the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.[50] New members were not admitted at this meeting, though applications for admission were considered at the 2009 CHOGM.[51] 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
Samoa
to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea to Australia, and Namibia
Namibia
to South Africa). The first member to be admitted without having any constitutional link to the British Empire
British Empire
or a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
member was Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, in 1995 following its first democratic elections and South Africa's re-admission in 1994. Mozambique's controversial entry led to the Edinburgh Declaration and the current membership guidelines.[52] In 2009, Rwanda
Rwanda
became the second Commonwealth
Commonwealth
member admitted not to have any such constitutional links. It was a Belgian trust territory that had been a German colony until World War I.[53] Consideration for its admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Secretariat.[54] Members Main article: Member states of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations

Flags of the members of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in Parliament Square, London

The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
flag flying at the Parliament of Canada
Canada
in Ottawa

The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
comprises 53 countries, across all continents. The members have a combined population of 2.3 billion people, almost a third of the world population, of which 1.26 billion live in India
India
and 94% live in Asia and Africa combined.[55] After India, the next-largest Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries by population are Pakistan (180 million), Nigeria
Nigeria
(170 million), Bangladesh (156 million), the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(65 million), South Africa (55 million) Canada
Canada
(36 million), Ghana
Ghana
(27 million) and Australia
Australia
(24 million). Tuvalu
Tuvalu
is the smallest member, with about 10,000 people.[56] The land area of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
nations is about 31,500,000 km2 (12,200,000 sq mi), or about 21% of the total world land area. The three largest Commonwealth
Commonwealth
nations by area are Canada
Canada
at 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi), Australia
Australia
at 7,617,930 km2 (2,941,300 sq mi), and India
India
at 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi).[57] In 2016, the Commonwealth
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
United Kingdom
($2.629 trillion), India
India
($2.256 trillion), Canada ($1.529 trillion), and Australia
Australia
($1.258 trillion).[58] 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", but was renamed on the Committee on Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Membership's recommendation.[59] There are currently no Members in Arrears. The most recent Member in Arrears, Nauru, returned to full membership in June 2011.[60] Nauru
Nauru
has alternated between special and full membership since joining the Commonwealth, depending on its financial situation.[61] Applicants See also: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations membership criteria § Prospective members 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
Commonwealth
values, principles and priorities as set out in the Harare Declaration; and that it should accept Commonwealth
Commonwealth
norms and conventions.[62] South Sudanese politicians have expressed interest in joining the Commonwealth.[63] A senior Commonwealth
Commonwealth
source argued in 2006 that "many people have assumed an interest from Israel, but there has been no formal approach".[64] The State of Palestine
State of Palestine
is also a potential candidate for membership.[64] President Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh
unilaterally withdrew The Gambia
The Gambia
from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in October 2013.[65] However, newly elected president Adama Barrow
Adama Barrow
returned the country to the organisation in February 2018.[66] Other eligible applicants could be any of the remaining inhabited British overseas territories, Crown dependencies, Australian external territories and the Associated States of New Zealand
New Zealand
if they become fully independent.[67] Many such jurisdictions are already directly represented within the Commonwealth, particularly through the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Family.[68] There are also former British possessions that have not become independent, for example, Hong Kong, which still participates in some of the institutions within the Commonwealth Family. All three Crown dependencies
Crown dependencies
regard the 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
Jersey
has proposed that it be accorded "self-representation in all Commonwealth
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".[69] The States of Guernsey
States of Guernsey
and the Government of the Isle of Man
Government of the Isle of Man
have made calls of a similar nature for a more integrated relationship with the Commonwealth,[70] including more direct representation and enhanced participation in Commonwealth
Commonwealth
organisations and meetings, including Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.[71] The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
has said: "A closer connection with the Commonwealth itself would be a welcome further development of the Island's international relationships".[72] At the time of the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
in 1956, in the face of colonial unrest and international tensions, French Premier Guy Mollet
Guy Mollet
proposed to British Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
that their two countries be joined in a "union". When that proposal was turned down, Mollet suggested that France
France
join the Commonwealth, possibly with "a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis." Talks regarding a form of union faded away with the end of the Suez crisis.[73] Suspension Main article: Suspension from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations In recent years, the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
has suspended several members "from the Councils of the Commonwealth" for "serious or persistent violations" of the Harare Declaration, particularly in abrogating their responsibility to have democratic government.[74] This is done 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. Currently, there are no suspended members.[citation needed] Nigeria
Nigeria
was suspended between 11 November 1995 and 29 May 1999,[75] following its execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa
on the eve of the 1995 CHOGM.[76] Pakistan
Pakistan
was the second country to be suspended, on 18 October 1999, following the military coup by Pervez Musharraf.[77] The Commonwealth's longest suspension came to an end on 22 May 2004, when Pakistan's suspension was lifted following the restoration of the country's constitution.[78] Pakistan
Pakistan
was suspended for a second time, far more briefly, for six months from 22 November 2007, when Musharraf called a state of emergency.[79] Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
was suspended in 2002 over concerns regarding the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government,[80] before it withdrew from the organisation in 2003.[81] The declaration of a Republic
Republic
in Fiji
Fiji
in 1987, after military coups designed to deny Indo-Fijians political power, was not accompanied by an application to remain. Commonwealth
Commonwealth
membership was held to have lapsed until 1997, after discriminatory provisions in the republican constitution were repealed and reapplication for membership made.[82][83] Fiji
Fiji
has since been suspended twice, with the first imposed from 6 June 2000[84] to 20 December 2001 after another coup.[80] Fiji
Fiji
was suspended yet again in December 2006, following the most recent coup. At first, the suspension applied only to membership on the Councils of the Commonwealth.[82][85] After failing to meet a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
deadline for setting a date for national elections by 2010, Fiji
Fiji
was "fully suspended" on 1 September 2009.[82][85] The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, confirmed that full suspension meant that Fiji
Fiji
would be excluded from Commonwealth meetings, sporting events and the technical assistance programme (with an exception for assistance in re-establishing democracy). Sharma stated that Fiji
Fiji
would remain a member of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
during its suspension, but would be excluded from emblematic representation by the secretariat.[82] On 19 March 2014 Fiji's full suspension was amended to a suspension from councils of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group, permitting Fiji
Fiji
to join a number of Commonwealth
Commonwealth
activities, including the Commonwealth Games.[86] Fiji's suspension was lifted in September 2014.[87] The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group fully reinstated Fiji
Fiji
as a member following elections in September 2014.[88] Most recently, during 2013 and 2014, international pressure mounted to suspend Sri Lanka
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
Sri Lanka
to another member country. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper
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.[89][90] These concerns were rendered moot by the election of opposition leader Maithripala Sirisena
Maithripala Sirisena
as President in 2015. Termination As membership is purely voluntary, member governments can choose at any time to leave the Commonwealth. Pakistan
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 alleged human rights violations and deliberate misgovernment, and Zimbabwe's government terminated its membership in 2003.[91] The Gambia
The Gambia
left the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
on 3 October 2013,[65] and rejoined on 8 February 2018.[66] The Maldives
Maldives
withdrew from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
on 13 October 2016.[92] The Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that "the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
has not recognised [...] the progress and achievements that the Maldives
Maldives
accomplished in cultivating a culture of democracy in the country and in building and strengthening democratic institutions".[93] The Ministry also cited the Commonwealth's "punitive actions against the Maldives
Maldives
since 2012" after the allegedly forced resignation of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed among the reasons for withdrawal.[93] The Ministry characterized the decision to withdraw as "difficult, but inevitable".[93] Although heads of government have the power to suspend member states from active participation, the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
has no provision for the expulsion of members. Until 2007, Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
that became republics automatically ceased to be members, until (like India
India
in 1950) they obtained the permission of other members to remain in the organisation. This policy has been changed, so if any current Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
were to become republics, they would not have to go through this process.[94] Ireland had withdrawn its participation in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in the 1930s, attending its last Commonwealth
Commonwealth
governmental heads' meeting in 1932. However it continued to be regarded by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
as a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
member until it declared itself a republic, on 18 April 1949. 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 under the rules then applicable.[citation needed] South Africa
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
Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference
that any such application would be rejected. South Africa
South Africa
was re-admitted to the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in 1994, following its first multiracial elections that year.[95] The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 ended the colony's ties to the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
through the United Kingdom. The government of Hong Kong, as a special administrative region of China, did not pursue membership. Hong Kong has nevertheless continued to participate in some of the organisations of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
family, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (hosted the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Lawyers Conference in 1983 and 2009), the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association (and the Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedures), the Association of Commonwealth Universities
Association of Commonwealth Universities
and the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Association of Legislative Counsel.[96][97]

Politics Objectives and activities The Commonwealth's objectives were first outlined in the 1971 Singapore
Singapore
Declaration, which committed the Commonwealth
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.[98] To these were added opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender by the Lusaka Declaration of 1979,[45] and environmental sustainability by the Langkawi Declaration of 1989.[99] These objectives were reinforced by the Harare Declaration in 1991.[100] The Commonwealth's current highest-priority aims are on the promotion of democracy and development, as outlined in the 2003 Aso Rock Declaration,[101] which built on those in Singapore
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."[102] The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
website lists its areas of work as: democracy, economics, education, gender, governance, human rights, law, small states, sport, sustainability, and youth.[103] Through a separate voluntary fund, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
governments support the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Youth Programme, a division of the Secretariat with offices in Gulu
Gulu
(Uganda), Lusaka
Lusaka
(Zambia), Chandigarh
Chandigarh
(India), Georgetown (Guyana) and Honiara
Honiara
(Solomon Islands).[citation needed] Competence In recent years, the Commonwealth
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.[104] The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
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.[105] 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
Commonwealth
member states, recommendations for the repeal of laws against homosexuality in 41 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
states and a ban on forced marriage.[106][107] 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
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
Commonwealth
is not a private club of the governments or the secretariat. It belongs to the people of the Commonwealth."[107] 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
Commonwealth
without any decision on how compliance with its principles would be enforced.[105] 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".[108][109] Proposed free movement policy In March 2015, the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Freedom of Movement Organisation proposed that the national governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand
New Zealand
and Canada
Canada
should advocate for freedom of movement between citizens of their countries, similar to the current arrangement existing between Australia
Australia
and New Zealand
New Zealand
through the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.[110] In May 2016, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer
expressed support for "freer movement" between Australia
Australia
and the United Kingdom, stating: "Over time we would like to continue to talk to the British government about arrangements we could make to liberalise movement between Australia
Australia
and the UK, if not have completely free movement...".[111] Economy Economic data by member

Economies of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations 2012

Member states Population[112] (2016) GDP (nominal)[113] (millions) GDP (nominal)[114] per capita GDP (PPP)[115] (millions) GDP (PPP)[116] per capita Realm

  Antigua
Antigua
and Barbuda 100,963 1,176 12,480 1,778 18,492 Yes

 Australia 24,125,848 1,520,608 61,789 1,008,547 41,974 Yes

 Bahamas, The 391,232 8,149 22,431 11,765 31,978 Yes

 Bangladesh 162,951,560 115,610 743 291,299 1,777 No

 Barbados 284,996 3,685 13,453 — — Yes

 Belize 366,954 1,448 4,059 2,381 6,672 Yes

 Botswana 2,250,260 14,411 8,533 34,038 14,746 No

 Brunei 423,196 16,954 40,301 21,992 51,760 No

 Cameroon 23,439,189 24,984 1,260 50,820 2,359 No

 Canada 36,289,822 1,821,424 50,344 1,489,165 40,420 Yes

 Cyprus 1,170,125 22,981 30,670 26,720 32,254 No

 Dominica 73,543 480 7,154 906 13,288 No

 Ghana 28,206,728 40,710 1,570 51,943 1,871 No

 Grenada 107,317 790 7,780 1,142 10,837 Yes

 Guyana 773,303 2,851 3,408 2,704 — No

 India 1,324,171,354 2,281,717 1,509 8,027,000 6,209 No

 Jamaica 2,881,355 14,840 5,335 — — Yes

 Kenya 48,461,567 37,229 808 76,016 1,710 No

 Kiribati 114,395 176 1,649 248 2,337 No

 Lesotho 2,203,821 2,448 1,106 4,027 1,691 No

 Malawi 18,091,575 4,264 365 14,344 893 No

 Malaysia 31,187,265 303,526 9,977 501,249 16,051 No

 Maldives 427,756 2,222 6,405 3,070 8,871 No

 Malta 429,362 8,722 21,380 12,138 27,504 No

 Mauritius 1,262,132 10,492 8,755 20,210 14,420 No

 Mozambique 28,829,476 14,588 533 25,805 975 No

 Namibia 2,479,713 12,807 5,383 16,918 6,801 No

 Nauru 11,347 — — — — No

 New Zealand 4,660,833 139,768 36,254 139,640 31,082 Yes

 Nigeria 185,989,640 262,606 1,502 449,289 2,533 No

 Pakistan 193,203,476 231,182 1,189 517,873 2,745 No

 Papua New Guinea 8,084,991 15,654 1,845 20,771 2,676 Yes

 Rwanda 11,917,508 7,103 8,874 15,517 1,282 No

  Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts
and Nevis 54,821 748 13,144 966 17,226 Yes

 Saint Lucia 178,015 1,186 7,154 2,016 11,597 Yes

 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 109,643 713 6,291 1,202 10,715 Yes

 Samoa 195,125 677 3,485 853 4,475 No

 Seychelles 94,228 1,032 12,321 2,371 25,788 No

 Sierra Leone 7,396,190 3,796 496 8,125 1,131 No

 Singapore 5,622,455 274,701 46,241 328,323 60,688 No

 Solomon Islands 599,419 1,008 1,517 1,718 2,923 Yes

 South Africa 56,015,473 384,313 8,070 585,625 10,960 No

 Sri Lanka 20,798,492 59,421 2,835 126,993 5,582 No

 Swaziland 1,343,098 3,747 3,831 6,458 6,053 No

 Tanzania 55,572,201 28,249 532 74,269 1,512 No

 Tonga 107,122 472 4,152 527 4,886 No

  Trinidad
Trinidad
and Tobago 1,364,962 23,986 16,699 35,638 25,074 No

 Tuvalu 11,097 37 3,636 — — Yes

 Uganda 41,487,965 19,881 487 49,130 1,345 No

 United Kingdom 65,788,574 2,835,174 38,974 2,264,751 35,598 Yes

 Vanuatu 270,402 785 3,094 1,139 4,379 No

 Zambia 16,591,390 20,678 1,425 24,096 1,621 No

 Commonwealth 2,418,964,000 9,766,209 3,844 13,119,929 4,035 —

  Commonwealth
Commonwealth
(realms) 144,033,000 5,966,408 43,493 4,945,842 36,053 —

Note: Figures are in US dollars.

Postwar During the Second World War, the Commonwealth
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 borrowed £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
Pakistan
and Ceylon had spent much of their sterling, while other countries accumulated more. The sterling area that included all of the Commonwealth
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
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 British economy was sluggish, compared to Western Europe, by the 1960s, and the commercial rationale was gradually less attractive to the Commonwealth. Access to the growing London
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.[117] UK joins the European Economic Community Britain had focused on the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
after the war, and largely ignored links with Europe. By the 1960s with a sluggish economy Britain tried repeatedly to join the European Economic Community, but this was repeatedly vetoed by Charles de Gaulle.[118] After his death, entry was finally achieved in 1972. 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
Commonwealth
family was joining forces with the Europeans, and that the new links would not replace the old Commonwealth
Commonwealth
ties based on historical attachments, which were too sacred to break. Historian Ben Pimlott
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."[119] The newly independent countries of Africa and Asia concentrated on their own internal political and economic development, and sometimes with 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 them burdensome and were themselves alienated from traditional imperialism. The former colonies would rather have a prosperous Britain linked to a prosperous Europe, rather than a declining loner.[120] The dominions saw that their historic ties with Britain were rapidly fraying. The Canadian economy was increasingly integrated with the United States, and had less and less to do with Britain or other Commonwealth
Commonwealth
nations. Internal Canadian disputes revolved around the growing American cultural economic presence, and the strong force of Québec nationalism and even independence. In 1964 the Maple Leaf flag replaced the old Union Jack to the sorrow of many Anglophiles—it was "the last gasp of empire."[121] Australia
Australia
and New Zealand
New Zealand
were in deep shock but kept a low profile not wanting to alienate London.[122][123] 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
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.[124]

Trade Further information: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
free trade Although the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
does not have a multilateral trade agreement, research by the Royal Commonwealth Society
Royal Commonwealth Society
has shown that trade with another Commonwealth
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.[125] At the 2005 Summit in Malta, the heads of government endorsed pursuing free trade among Commonwealth
Commonwealth
members on a bilateral basis.[126] There have been various proposals for a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
free trade zone,[127] however none have so far come to pass. 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 membership in the European Union,[128][129] 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 [130] Although the EU is already in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with many Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries such as India
India
and Canada, it took the EU almost ten years to come to an agreement with Canada,[131][132] due to the challenge associated with achieving the necessary EU-wide approvals. Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Family Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Family Commonwealth
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
Commonwealth
Universities is an important vehicle for academic links, particularly through scholarships, principally the Commonwealth Scholarship, for students to study in universities in other Commonwealth
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
Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association.[citation needed] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Foundation Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Foundation The Commonwealth Foundation
Commonwealth Foundation
is an intergovernmental organisation, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth
Commonwealth
governments, and guided by Commonwealth
Commonwealth
values and priorities. Its mandate is to strengthen civil society in the achievement of Commonwealth
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.[citation needed] The Foundation was established in 1965 by the 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.[133] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games

The Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
are the third-largest multi-sport event in the world, bringing together globally popular sports and peculiarly "Commonwealth" sports, such as rugby sevens, shown here at the 2006 Games.

The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games, a multi-sport event, is held every four years; the 2010 Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
were held in New Delhi, India, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
will be on Gold Coast, Australia. 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",[134] with the goal of promoting relations between Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries and celebrating their shared sporting and cultural heritage.[135] The games are the Commonwealth's most visible activity[134] and interest in the operation of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
increases greatly when the Games are held.[136] There is controversy over whether the games—and sport generally—should be involved in the Commonwealth's wider political concerns.[135] The 1977 Gleneagles Agreement was signed to commit Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries to combat apartheid through discouraging sporting contact with South Africa
South Africa
(which was not then a member), whilst the 1986 games were boycotted by most African, Asian, and Caribbean
Caribbean
countries for the failure of other countries to enforce the Gleneagles Agreement.[137] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
War Graves Commission Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
serves to commemorate 1.7 million Commonwealth
Commonwealth
war dead and maintains 2,500 war cemeteries around the world, including this one in Gallipoli.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
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 cemeteries, and maintains individual graves at another 20,000 sites around the world.[138] The vast majority of the latter are civilian cemeteries in Great Britain. In 1998, the CWGC made the records of its buried online to facilitate easier searching.[139] Commonwealth
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.[139] It is funded by voluntary agreement by six Commonwealth
Commonwealth
members, in proportion to the nationality of the casualties in the graves maintained,[138] with 75% of the funding coming from Britain.[139] Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Learning Main article: Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Learning The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by the 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.[citation needed] The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Local Government Forum Main article: Commonwealth
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 democratic values and good local governance and is the associated organisation officially recognised by Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Heads of Government as the representative body for local government in the Commonwealth.[140] 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
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.[141] Culture Many Commonwealth
Commonwealth
nations possess traditions and customs that are elements of a shared Commonwealth
Commonwealth
culture. Examples include common sports such as cricket and rugby, driving on the left, the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, common law, widespread use of the English language, designation of English as an official language, military and naval ranks, and the use of British rather than American spelling conventions (see English in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations).[citation needed] Sport Many Commonwealth
Commonwealth
nations play similar sports that are considered quintessentially British in character, rooted in and developed under British rule or hegemony, including football, cricket, rugby, and netball.[142] This has led to the development of friendly national rivalries between the main sporting nations that have often defined their relations with each another. Indeed, said rivalries preserved close ties by providing a constant in international relationships, even as the Empire transformed into the Commonwealth.[143] Externally, playing these sports is seen to be a sign of sharing a certain Commonwealth
Commonwealth
culture; the adoption of cricket at schools in Rwanda
Rwanda
is seen as symbolic of the country's move towards Commonwealth membership.[144][145] Besides the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Games, other sporting competitions are organised on a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
basis, through championship tournaments such as the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Taekwondo Championships, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Fencing Championships, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Judo Championships, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Rowing Championships, Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Sailing Championships, Commonwealth Shooting Championships and Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Pool Lifesaving Championships. The Commonwealth Boxing Council has long maintained Commonwealth titles for the best boxers in the Commonwealth.[citation needed] Literature See also: Postcolonial literature
Postcolonial literature
and Migrant literature The shared history of British presence has produced a substantial body of writing in many languages, known as Commonwealth literature.[146][147] The Association for Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Literature and Language Studies, with nine chapters worldwide and an international conference is held every three years.[citation needed] English as official language In 1987, the Commonwealth Foundation
Commonwealth Foundation
established the annual Commonwealth Writers' Prize "to encourage and reward the upsurge of new Commonwealth
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, as well as regional prizes for the best book and best first book from each of four regions. Although not officially affiliated with the Commonwealth, the prestigious annual Man Booker Prize, one of the highest honours in literature,[148] 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[149] From 1950 on a significant number of writers from the countries of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations began gaining international recognition, including some who migrated to the United Kingdom. There had been a few important works in English prior to 1950 from the then British Empire. The South African writer Olive Schreiner's famous novel The Story of an African Farm was published in 1883 and New Zealander Katherine Mansfield
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 sub-continent, R. K. Narayan, began publishing in England
England
in the 1930s, thanks to the encouragement of English novelist Graham Greene.[150] Caribbean
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
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
Nobel Prize in Literature
in 2007.[151] Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie
is another post Second World War writer from the former British colonies who permanently settled in Britain. Rushdie achieved fame with Midnight's Children
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
A Bend in the River
(1979). Naipaul won the Nobel Prize in Literature.[152] Many other Commonwealth
Commonwealth
writers have achieved an international reputation for works in English, including Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, and playwright Wole Soyinka. Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, as did South African novelist Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer
in 1995. Other South African writers in English are novelist J.M. Coetzee (Nobel Prize 2003) and playwright Athol Fugard. Kenya's most internationally renowned author is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
who has written novels, plays and short stories in English. Poet Derek Walcott, from Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
in the Caribbean, was another Nobel Prize winner in 1992. An 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, and novelist Peter Carey (born 1943), who is one of only four writers to have won the Booker Prize
Booker Prize
twice.[153] Political system Due to their shared constitutional histories, several countries in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
have similar legal and political systems. The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
requires its members to be functioning democracies that respect human rights and the rule of law. Most Commonwealth
Commonwealth
countries have the bicameral Westminster system
Westminster system
of parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
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
Commonwealth
members use common law, modelled on English law. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the supreme court of 14 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
members.[154] Symbols The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
has adopted a number of symbols that represent the association of its members. The English language
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
Commonwealth
membership. The flag of the Commonwealth
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 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
Commonwealth
Day, the second Monday in March, having developed separately on different dates from Empire Day
Empire Day
celebrations.[155] Recognition In 2009, to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth, the Royal Commonwealth Society
Royal Commonwealth Society
commissioned a poll of public opinion in seven of the member states: Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, South Africa
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
Commonwealth
Games, and indifferent toward its future. Support for the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
was twice as high in developing countries as in developed countries; it was lowest in Great Britain.[156][157][158][159] See also

Commonwealth realms
Commonwealth realms
portal

Anglosphere Commonwealth Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Independent States, a grouping of Post-Soviet states outside the European Union Community of Portuguese Language Countries, an equivalent grouping of Portuguese-speaking countries and territories English-speaking world List of country groupings List of multilateral free-trade agreements List of Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations countries by GDP Representatives of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations

Notes

1. ^ The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations is sometimes called the "British Commonwealth" to differentiate it from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Independent States, also called the "Russian Commonwealth".[160][self-published source]

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Commonwealth
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Further reading

Ashton, Sarah R. "British government perspectives on the Commonwealth, 1964–71: An asset or a liability?." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth
Commonwealth
History 35.1 (2007): 73–94. Bloomfield, Valerie. Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Elections 1945–1970 (1976). Cook, Chris and John Paxton. Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Political Facts (Macmillan, 1978). Lloyd, Lorna. Diplomacy with a difference: the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Office of High Commissioner, 1880–2006 (Brill, 2007). McIntyre, W. David. The commonwealth of nations: Origins and impact, 1869–1971 (U of Minnesota Press, 1977). McIntyre, W. David. A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth, Palgrave, 2001. ISBN 0-333-96310-5. McIntyre, W. David. "The Unofficial Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Relations Conferences, 1933–59: Precursors of the Tri-sector Commonwealth." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth
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 pp online Maitland, Donald. ed. Britain, the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
and Europe (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2001) online Mansergh, N. The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in the World, University
University
of Toronto Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8020-2492-0. Moore, R.J. Making the New Commonwealth, Clarendon Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-820112-5. Murphy, Philip. Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth
Commonwealth
(Oxford UP 2013) DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199214235.001.0001 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. ISBN 978-0-415-35120-1 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. ISBN 0-313-23624-0. 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) 908pp online Mansergh, Nicholas, ed. Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952–1962 (1963) 804pp online

External links

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Dependencies of Members

Australia

Ashmore and Cartier Islands Australian Antarctic Territory Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Coral Sea Islands Heard Island and McDonald Islands Norfolk Island

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1542–1800 Ireland (integrated into UK) 1708–1757, 1763–1782 and 1798–1802 Minorca Since 1713 Gibraltar 1800–1813 Malta
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(Colony) 1807–1890 Heligoland 1809–1864 Ionian Islands 1878–1960 Cyprus 1921–1937 Irish Free State

North America

17th century and before 18th century 19th and 20th century

1579 New Albion 1583–1907 Newfoundland 1605–1979 *Saint Lucia 1607–1776 Virginia Since 1619 Bermuda 1620–1691 Plymouth 1623–1883 Saint Kitts 1624–1966 *Barbados 1625–1650 Saint Croix 1627–1979 *Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1628–1883 Nevis 1629–1691 Massachusetts Bay 1632–1776 Maryland since 1632 Montserrat 1632–1860 Antigua 1635–1644 Saybrook 1636–1776 Connecticut 1636–1776 Rhode Island 1637–1662 New Haven

1643–1860 Bay Islands Since 1650 Anguilla 1655–1850 Mosquito Coast 1655–1962 *Jamaica 1663–1712 Carolina 1664–1776 New York 1665–1674 and 1702–1776 New Jersey Since 1666 Virgin Islands Since 1670 Cayman Islands 1670–1973 *Bahamas 1670–1870 Rupert's Land 1671–1816 Leeward Islands 1674–1702 East Jersey 1674–1702 West Jersey 1680–1776 New Hampshire 1681–1776 Pennsylvania 1686–1689 New England 1691–1776 Massachusetts Bay

1701–1776 Delaware 1712–1776 North Carolina 1712–1776 South Carolina 1713–1867 Nova Scotia 1733–1776 Georgia 1754–1820 Cape Breton Island 1762–1974 *Grenada 1763–1978 Dominica 1763–1873 Prince Edward Island 1763–1791 Quebec 1763–1783 East Florida 1763–1783 West Florida 1784–1867 New Brunswick 1791–1841 Lower Canada 1791–1841 Upper Canada Since 1799 Turks and Caicos Islands

1818–1846 Columbia District/Oregon Country1 1833–1960 Windward Islands 1833–1960 Leeward Islands 1841–1867 Canada 1849–1866 Vancouver Island 1853–1863 Queen Charlotte Islands 1858–1866 British Columbia 1859–1870 North-Western Territory 1860–1981 *British Antigua
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and Barbuda 1862–1863 Stickeen 1866–1871 British Columbia 1867–1931 * Dominion
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of Canada2 1871–1964 Honduras 1882–1983 * Saint Kitts
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Trinidad
and Tobago 1907–1949 Newfoundland3 1958–1962 West Indies Federation

1. Occupied jointly with the United States. 2. In 1931, Canada
Canada
and other British dominions obtained self-government through the Statute of Westminster. See Name of Canada. 3. Gave up self-rule in 1934, but remained a de jure Dominion until it joined Canada
Canada
in 1949.

South America

1631–1641 Providence Island 1651–1667 Willoughbyland 1670–1688 Saint Andrew and Providence Islands4 1831–1966 Guiana Since 1833 Falkland Islands5 Since 1908 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands5

4. Now a department of Colombia. 5. Occupied by Argentina during the Falklands War
Falklands War
of April–June 1982.

Africa

17th and 18th centuries 19th century 20th century

Since 1658 Saint Helena14 1792–1961 Sierra Leone 1795–1803 Cape Colony

Since 1815 Ascension Island14 Since 1816 Tristan da Cunha14 1806–1910 Cape of Good Hope 1807–1808 Madeira 1810–1968 Mauritius 1816–1965 The Gambia 1856–1910 Natal 1862–1906 Lagos 1868–1966 Basutoland 1874–1957 Gold Coast 1882–1922 Egypt

1884–1900 Niger Coast 1884–1966 Bechuanaland 1884–1960 Somaliland 1887–1897 Zululand 1890–1962 Uganda 1890–1963 Zanzibar 1891–1964 Nyasaland 1891–1907 Central Africa 1893–1968 Swaziland 1895–1920 East Africa 1899–1956 Sudan

1900–1914 Northern Nigeria 1900–1914 Southern Nigeria 1900–1910 Orange River 1900–1910 Transvaal 1903–1976 Seychelles 1910–1931 South Africa 1914–1960 Nigeria 1915–1931 South-West Africa 1919–1961 Cameroons6 1920–1963 Kenya 1922–1961 Tanganyika6 1923–1965 and 1979–1980 Southern Rhodesia7 1924–1964 Northern Rhodesia

6.  League of Nations
League of Nations
mandate. 7. Self-governing Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia
unilaterally declared independence in 1965 (as Rhodesia) and continued as an unrecognised state until the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement. After recognised independence in 1980, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
was a member of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
until it withdrew in 2003.

Asia

17th and 18th century 19th century 20th century

1685–1824 Bencoolen 1702–1705 Pulo Condore 1757–1947 Bengal 1762–1764 Manila and Cavite 1781–1784 and 1795–1819 Padang 1786–1946 Penang 1795–1948 Ceylon 1796–1965 Maldives

1811–1816 Java 1812–1824 Banka and Billiton 1819–1826 Malaya 1824–1948 Burma 1826–1946 Straits Settlements 1839–1967 Aden 1839–1842 Afghanistan 1841–1997 Hong Kong 1841–1946 Sarawak 1848–1946 Labuan 1858–1947 India 1874–1963 Borneo

1879–1919 Afghanistan (protectorate) 1882–1963 North Borneo 1885–1946 Unfederated Malay States 1888–1984 Brunei 1891–1971 Muscat and Oman 1892–1971 Trucial States 1895–1946 Federated Malay States 1898–1930 Weihai 1878–1960 Cyprus

1907–1949 Bhutan (protectorate) 1918–1961 Kuwait 1920–1932 Mesopotamia8 1921–1946 Transjordan8 1923–1948 Palestine8 1945–1946 South Vietnam 1946–1963 North Borneo 1946–1963 Sarawak 1946–1963 Singapore 1946–1948 Malayan Union 1948–1957 Federation of Malaya Since 1960 Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
(before as part of Cyprus) Since 1965 British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
(before as part of Mauritius and the Seychelles)

League of Nations
League of Nations
mandate. Iraq's mandate was not enacted and replaced by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty

Oceania

18th and 19th centuries 20th century

1788–1901 New South Wales 1803–1901 Van Diemen's Land/Tasmania 1807–1863 Auckland Islands9 1824–1980 New Hebrides 1824–1901 Queensland 1829–1901 Swan River/Western Australia 1836–1901 South Australia since 1838 Pitcairn Islands

1841–1907 New Zealand 1851–1901 Victoria 1874–1970 Fiji10 1877–1976 Western Pacific Territories 1884–1949 Papua 1888–1901 Rarotonga/Cook Islands9 1889–1948 Union Islands9 1892–1979 Gilbert and Ellice Islands11 1893–1978 Solomon Islands12

1900–1970 Tonga 1900–1974 Niue9 1901–1942 *Australia 1907–1947 *New Zealand 1919–1942 and 1945–1968 Nauru 1919–1949 New Guinea 1949–1975 Papua and New Guinea13

9. Now part of the *Realm of New Zealand. 10. Suspended member. 11. Now Kiribati
Kiribati
and *Tuvalu. 12. Now the *Solomon Islands. 13. Now *Papua New Guinea.

Antarctica and South Atlantic

Since 1658 Saint Helena14 Since 1815 Ascension Island14 Since 1816 Tristan da Cunha14 Since 1908 British Antarctic Territory15 1841–1933 Australian Antarctic Territory
Australian Antarctic Territory
(transferred to the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Australia) 1841–1947 Ross Dependency
Ross Dependency
(transferred to the Realm of New Zealand)

14. Since 2009 part of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Ascension Island
Ascension Island
(1922–) and Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
(1938–) were previously dependencies of Saint Helena. 15. Both claimed in 1908; territories formed in 1962 (British Antarctic Territory) and 1985 (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).

v t e

International organizations

Intergovernmental organizations

Non-cultural IGOs

International Criminal Court International Monetary Fund International Seabed Authority Inter-Parliamentary Union Interpol New Development Bank Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons United Nations World Bank
World Bank
Group World Trade
Trade
Organization

Cultural IGOs

Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations Community of Portuguese Language Countries Organisation internationale de la Francophonie

v t e

Pacific Islands Forum
Pacific Islands Forum
(PIF)

Members

Australia Cook Islands Fiji Kiribati Marshall Islands Micronesia Nauru New Zealand Niue Palau Papua New Guinea Samoa Solomon Islands Tonga Tuvalu Vanuatu

Associate members

French Polynesia New Caledonia

Observers

Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of Nations East Timor Tokelau United Nations Wallis and Futuna Guam American Samoa Northern Mariana Islands Asian Development Bank Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

Dialogue partners

Canada China Cuba European Union France India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea Malaysia Philippines Spain Thailand Turkey United Kingdom United States

Meetings

45th

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 144390698 LCCN: n92054696 GND: 40104

.