The member states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals asoutlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equalin status.
Its activities are carried out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, and biennial meetings between Commonwealth Heads of Government. The symbol of their free association is the Head of the Commonwealth, which is a ceremonial position currently held by Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth II is also monarch, separately and independently, of sixteenCommonwealth members, which are known as the "Commonwealth realms".
The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of non-governmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth's most visible activity, are a product of one of these organisations. These organisationsstrengthen the shared culture of the Commonwealth, which extends through common sports, literary heritage, and political and legal practices. Due to this, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to one another. Reflecting this, diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries are designated as High Commissions rather than embassies.
Contents * 1 History * 1.1Origins * 1.2 Remaining members gain independence * 1.3 Members with heads of state other than the Sovereign * 1.4 New Commonwealth * 2 Objectives and activities * 3 Structure * 3.1 Head of the Commonwealth * 3.2 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting * 3.3 Commonwealth Secretariat * 4 Membership * 4.1 Membership criteria * 4.2 Members * 4.3Applicants * 4.4 Suspension * 4.5 Termination of membership * 5 Commonwealth Family * 5.1 Commonwealth Foundation * 5.2 Commonwealth Games * 5.3 Commonwealth Lawyers Association * 5.4 Commonwealth War Graves Commission * 5.5 Commonwealth of Learning * 5.6 Commonwealth Business Council * 6 Culture * 6.1 Sport * 6.2 Literature * 6.3 Politicalsystem * 6.4 Symbols * 6.5 Commonwealth citizenship * 7 Criticism * 8 See also * 9 Footnotes * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links |
The prime ministers of five members of the Commonwealth at the 1954 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
In 1884, while visiting Australia, Lord Rosebery described the changing BritishEmpire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a "Commonwealth of Nations". Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers had occurred periodically since 1887, leading to the creation of the Imperial Conferences in 1911. The commonwealth developed from the Imperial Conferences. A specific proposal was presented by Jan Christian Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "theBritish Commonwealth of Nations," and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in the British Empire." Smuts successfully argued that the Empire should be represented at the all-important Versailles Conference of 1919 by delegates from the dominions as well as Britain. In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Britain and its dominions agreed they...