The Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states. Most of the members are former British colonies, except Mozambique and the United Kingdom itself.
So it can be seen as a union between the states of the distraught British Empire. The objective of the organisation is a common wealth, which means prosperity for all members. This is realised by consultation and cooperation. The community was built on the principles of partnership, equality, and help for the poorer members.
- about 1900: begin of autonomy movements at the colonies
- 1926: Balfour Declaration: To link the colonies furthermore to Britain, the Foreign Minister
Balfour let some important members, the dominions, become independent of the Empire.
But he wanted to link each other with this famous definition: "They are autonomous
Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in
any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the
Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations."
- 1927: Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act: change of the Britain’s title and the Kings title to show the new thinking
- 1930: The first British Empire Games(the forerunner of the Commonwealth Games)
- 1931: The Statute of Westminster formalises the Balfour Declaration. The Parliament of the United Kingdom confirms the full legislative power of the dominions over themselves.
- WWII: Common fight against Nazi Germany
- 1944: The first Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference convenes in London.
- 1947- 50: Pakistan, India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka join the Commonwealth upon being granted independence by the United Kingdom.
- 1957: Ghana joins the Commonwealth upon being granted independence by the United Kingdom, becoming the first majority-ruled African member.
- 1960- 62: The British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan gave his famous 'Wind of Change' speech to the Parliament of South Africa. Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, Tanzania, Federation of the West Indies, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and Uganda join the Commonwealth.
- 1965: Commonwealth Secretariat is introduced. It’s the central institution of the C.wealth.
- Since 1966: NIBMAR policy: refusing independence of a colony until the Black weren’t allowed to vote.
- 1971: The Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles: sets out the common political values that form the main part of the Commonwealth's membership criteria. “The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of independent sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace”
- 1979: The Lusaka Declaration was a declaration against Racism and Racial Prejudice
- 1989: Langkawi Declaration about environmental sustainability
- 1991: The Harare Declaration clarifies the membership criteria of 1971. It stands for: “world peace and support for the United Nations; individual liberty and egalitarianism; opposition to racism; opposition to colonialism; the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease, and economic inequality; free trade; institutional cooperation; multilateralism; and the rejection of international coercion”
- 1995: Mozambique joins the Commonwealth. It is the first country to join the Commonwealth without having any constitutional ties to an existing member.
The Head of the Commonwealth is represented by the Queen. This position could be compared with a ceremonial president’s. By contrast to other international organisation the Head of the Commonwealth is a
symbol ((-also-)) (recognised by its members as the "symbol of their free association") of the association. She keeps the organisations together although she has no executive power.
The Commonwealth Secretariat is the central institution of the Commonwealth. The main task is the organisation of meetings, especially the CHOGM. Furthermore it helps to make the cooperation between the members easier. The Secretariat also gives advises on policy development and helps the countries to implement Commonwealth decisions them into their constitutions. The institution is headed by a Secretary-General. He is chosen by the Heads of the Governments for a period of five years and is assisted by two Deputy Secretaries-General: one responsible for economic affairs and one for political affairs. Below them, there are ten “Directors from the Commonwealth Secretariat” for the different issues.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (abr. CHOGM) is the most important meeting between the members. It is held every two years in another country. The politicians discuss different issues to find a common way, if it’s possible.
The countries are also tightly connected outside the political level. There are over a hundred non governmental organisations, for example for sport, culture, education and charity. They are called the Commonwealth family. Here are some important examples
- The Commonwealth Games: It is a multi-sports championship which is held every four years.
- The Commonwealth Foundation is a political organisation which wants to support the commonwealth values and priorities.
- The Commonwealth of Learning is a cultural organisation that encourages the development and sharing of open learning, education knowledge, resources and technologies. The (Main-) Membership criteria:
- the members have to be fully sovereign states
- recognise the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.
- respect the wishes of the general population vis-à-vis Commonwealth membership
- supporting of equality, world peace, individual liberty
- fight against: poverty, colonialism, ignorance, disease and corruption
- 53 countries(almost a quarter of the world’s countries)
- 2 billion citizens(30 per cent of the world's population)
- The gross domestic product 7.8 trillion US$ (about 16% of the total world economy)
- It has an area of 31.5 million km²( 21% of the total world land area)
Advantages for the members
An important advantage is that the citizens can migrate within the Commonwealth freely.
Furthermore the trade between the members make many products cheaper. The people have more rights, for example every human that lives in Britain can vote. They can also join the British armed forces or get help of the British government if they have international problems.