The Commonwealth is well known for its cooperation, diverse membership and commitment to advancing democracy and development for all. It is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states. Commonwealth Day is celebrated on the second Monday of March every year.
The genesis of the Commonwealth dates back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. Soon after they formed the British Commonwealth of Nations and in 1949 the association we know today – the Commonwealth – came into being.
Today, the Commonwealth consists of a voluntary association of fifty-three (53) countries which span the globe from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific. It is home to 2.2 billion citizens, over 60% of which are under the age of 30. More importantly, membership is no longer based on allegiance to the British Crown. According to The London Declaration of 1949, Commonwealth members were “free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress
Leaders of Commonwealth member countries meet every two years to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest. At these gatherings, each member, despite their citizen population or economic power, has equal rights. As a result, even the smallest member countries have a voice in shaping the Commonwealth. In fact, thirty-one Commonwealth member countries are considered small states, many of them island nations such as Trinidad and Tobago.
The Commonwealth has achieved many successes because of the unity between its member states. Together, members of the Commonwealth achieve more than the sum of its parts. This is facilitated by shared goals, mutual support and the combined strengths of each member.
Quote: Experiences of life differ widely throughout the Commonwealth, and we each make contributions from sometimes very different viewpoints. But we are committed to the same goals. Together we offer each other encouragement and draw strength from this mutual support.
The understanding that we belong together, and are able, through teamwork, to achieve far more than we could do alone, has always been at the heart of our approach. For all of us this is now captured in the Commonwealth Charter which sets out the values and principles which guide and motivate us.– Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on this year’s Commonwealth theme: ‘Team Commonwealth’
Activities: This year the world can look forward to the Commonwealth Games which will
be held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 23 July and 3 August 2014.
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