The History of the Commonwealth • Britain with colonies all over the world • Beginning in 1867 Britain allows colonies self-government • Colonies rise to dominion status. • Internal self-government • Independence in foreign affairs • Term “Commonwealth” referring to British Empire first used in 1884 • Declarations & commitments form modern Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations • Balfour Declaration-1926: Dominions are autonomous, equal communities within British empire united by allegiance to British Crown. • Statute of Westminster-1931: Legal backing to dominion arrangements is provided. • London Declaration-1949: British Monarch becomes symbol for free association including an Commonwealth countries. • Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles-1971:Defined modern Commonwealth.
Declarations Modernize the Commonwealth • Harare Declaration-1991:Reaffirmed Commonwealth principles and: • Stood against terrorism • Pursued equality & participation by women • Promoted sustainable development • Promoted democracy • Millbrook Declaration-1995:Firm action against members who do not uphold Harare principles • Suspension of participation at Commonwealth meetings • Complete suspension from the Commonwealth • Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Rapid Action Force is created
Declarations Modernize the Commonwealth (cont.) • Limassol Declaration-1993, Edinburgh Declaration-1997, & Fancourt Declaration-1999:Economic matters, globalization and people-centered development. • Coolum Declaration-2002:Gave new vision and structure for the Commonwealth in 21st Century. • Aso Rock Declaration-2003:Stressed pro-poor stance.
Who’s in the Commonwealth now? • 53 countries! • 1.7 billion people! • 2/3 without British Monarchas head of state
Commonwealth Members Dates of Membership Nation Year Nation Year Nation Year Antigua and Barbuda 1981 Australia 1931 The Bahamas 1973 Bangladesh 1972 Barbados 1966 Belize 1981 Botswana 1966 Brunei 1984 Cameroon 1995 Canada 1931 Cyprus 1961 Dominica 1978 Fiji Islands 1997 The Gambia 1965 Ghana 1957 Grenada 1974 Guyana 1966 India 1947 Jamaica 1962 Kenya 1963 Kiribati 1979 Lesotho 1966 Malawi 1964 Malaysia 1957 The Maldives 1982 Malta 1964 Mauritius 1968 Mozambique 1995 Namibia 1990 Nauru 1968 New Zealand 1931 Nigeria 1960 Pakistan 1947 Papua New Guinea 1975 St. Christopher and Nevis 1983 St. Lucia 1979 St. Vincent & Grenadines 1979 Samoa 1970 Seychelles 1976 Sierra Leone 1961 Singapore 1965 Solomon Islands 1978 South Africa 1931 Sri Lanka 1948 Swaziland 1968 Tanzania 1961 Tonga 1970 Trinidad and Tobago 1962 Tuvalu 1978 United Kingdom -- Uganda 1962 Vanuatu 1980 Zambia 1964
Support: Democracy Rule of law Good governance Freedom of expression Human rights Respect: Diversity Human dignity Pluralism Tolerance Eliminate: discrimination poverty Promote: People-centered development Sustainable development Overcome: Disparities in living standards Challenges of small states & less developed countries Strive for: International peace & security Rule of international law End of people smuggling End to terrorism. What are the Commonwealth’s Core Values?
Countries: Comply with the Commonwealth core values Have a constitutional link with a Commonwealth member state Accept Commonwealth procedures and conventions Independent sovereign states Organizations Voluntary membership Equal membership by all countries Countries responsible for their own policies A culture of consultation & co-operation. Direct work to common interests of Commonwealth Promote understanding & world peace. Characteristics of Commonwealth Members
Regions of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Nine Regions of CPA Africa Asia Australia British Islands and Mediterranean Canada Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic India Pacific South East Asia
Details Established in 1965 Chief executive is secretary-general Works with executives of members Is Largest entity in Commonwealth Cooperates with: Civil society NGOs Private sector Has 250 staff Responsibilities Implement decisions Election Observer Groups Development assistance Foster member relationships Encourage democracy& cooperation Run events & training activities Politics Diplomacy Economics Education Health Gender Youth, etc. Commonwealth Secretariat
What are the Commonwealth Small States? 32 Countries Population < 1.5 million
Organizations in the Commonwealth • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: Consultation between and among Commonwealth parliaments • Includes sub-national legislatures • Divided into regions • Organizes annual conference • Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP): Provides professional development opportunities for women MPs • Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF): plays a parallel role to that of the CPA for local governments.
Organizations in the Commonwealth (cont.) • Commonwealth Foundation: • Strengthen civil society, democracy etc. • Increase exchanges between organizations • Improves standards of knowledge • Commonwealth Games: Multinational, multi-sport event, every four years • Commonwealth Business Council: Devoted to business interests in the Commonwealth
Organizations in the Commonwealth (cont.) • Commonwealth of Learning: A non-degree-granting University for development and educational access for commonwealth countries. • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative: Encourages human rights but does not possess any executive powers • Institute of Commonwealth Studies/Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit: Think tank for the contemporary Commonwealth. • The Royal Commonwealth Society: Provides information and education about the Commonwealth to all interested persons.
CHOGM Meetings • Established in 1971, replacing Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Meetings • Held every two years • Reiterate the core values and principles of the association • Review performance and global relevance
The Modern Commonwealth Machine: What keeps it together? • A common heritage of • English language • Law • Parliamentary democracy but… • Language and legal systems have changed • Many have dropped the bicameral parliamentary system yet, in spite of its variety, it is… • A potent force for harmonizing differences
CHOGM: Governing the Commonwealth • Policy-making • Performance evaluation • Publishes decisions • Outlines work • Appoints secretary-general
Think about this: How can the Commonwealth help you: • Learning? • Networking? • Support?