Aside from the United Nations, the Commonwealth is the world’s most extensive grouping of sovereign states, linking 56 countries and 24 dependent territories together in one system.
The modern Commonwealth was established in 1949 as an association of free and equal sovereign states which had been part of the British Empire but were now independent and, in the case of India and Pakistan, on the verge of becoming Republics. There are now 56 member states, with a combined population of 2.6 billion (approximately 33.17% of the world's population).
Gabon and Togo the newest members joined the Commonwealth on 26th June 2022 at the CHOGM. Maldives re-joined in 2020 preceded by The Gambia, which re-joined in 2018. The Gambia had left the Commonwealth in 2013; Zimbabwe withdrew in 2003; the Maldives left in 2016. The Commonwealth countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Thirty-one of its members are classified as small states – countries with a population size of 1.5 million people or less and larger member states that share similar characteristics with them. All members have an equal say – regardless of size or economic stature. This ensures even the smallest member countries have a voice in shaping the Commonwealth.
All members subscribe to the Commonwealth’s values and principles outlined in The Commonwealth Charter.
The Commonwealth is an association of governments and peoples, built around shared language, institutions, challenges, aspirations and values. Unlike most other international associations, the Commonwealth works on a consensus model and membership is voluntary, predicated primarily on a country’s commitment to upholding shared values and principles, including the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The First Affirmation – We affirm that every person-of whatever colour, class or creed-possesses unique worth and dignity.
The Second Affirmation – We affirm our respect for the world and pledge that we will be its stewards by caring for every part of it.
The Third Affirmation – We affirm our belief in justice for everyone and peace between peoples and nations.
The Fourth Affirmation – We affirm faith and love as the foundation of all human relationships.
The Fifth Affirmation – We affirm that we each belong to our own nation and to the whole human family: to the service of both we pledge ourselves.
The Sixth Affirmation – We affirm that diversity is a gift to humanity and that all peoples are worthy of respect; in pursuit of which, we pledge to promote understanding and reconciliation in our communities and around the world.
The majority of Commonwealth nations are developing countries providing superb opportunities for businesses looking to expand into emerging markets.
These forward-thinking organisations are working hand in hand with governments, public administrations and education institutions to unlock the potential of the Commonwealth’s natural assets and diverse population and build national economic resilience.
Leaders of member countries shape Commonwealth policies and priorities. Every two years, they meet to discuss issues affecting the Commonwealth and the wider world at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
For further insights about the Commonwealth & its workings visit here.