The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that were mostlyterritories of the former British Empire. The Commonwealth operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states, organised through the Commonwealth Secretariat, and non-governmental organisations, organised through theCommonwealth Foundation. ACER Aspire 4743 CPU Fan
The Commonwealth dates back to the late 19th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which established the member states as "free and equal". HP Pavilion dv6-2170us CPU Fan
The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II who is the Head of the Commonwealth, a wholly symbolic position. The Queen is also the monarch of 16 members of the Commonwealth, known as realms. The other members of the Commonwealth have different persons as head of state: 32 members are republics and five members are monarchies. Toshiba Satellite L675-S7018 CPU Fan
Member states have no legal obligation one to another. Instead, they are united by language, history, culture, and their shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. These values are enshrined in theCommonwealth Charter and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games. ASUS F80Q CPU Fan
On 3 October 2013, after 48 years of membership, The Gambia became the most recent nation to withdraw from this Commonwealth.The Commonwealth covers more than 29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi), almost a quarter of the world land area, and spans all the continents. With an estimated population of 2.245 billion, almost a third of the world population,[ ACER TravelMate 4200 CPU Fan
6]the Commonwealth in 2012 produced a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $9.767 trillion, representing 15% of the world GDP when measured in purchasing power parity (PPP). This represents the second largest nominal GDP and GDP PPP in the world.
Using the European Union as a template, a movement in some member states seeks to establish a HP 434678-001 CPU Fan
Commonwealth Union(CU) through the creation of a free trade area, visa-free travel area, common foreign policy, and representation at the United Nations and Group of 20.
In 1884, while visiting Australia, Lord Rosebery described the changing British Empire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a "Commonwealth of Nations". HP G70-120EA CPU Fan
Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers occurred periodically from the first one in 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 Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations" and Toshiba Satellite A300-034 CPU Fan
envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the all-important Versailles Conference of 1919 by delegates from the dominions as well as Britain. The term first received imperial statutory recognition in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, when the term "British Commonwealth of Nations" was substituted for "British Empire" in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State. HP 606609-001 CPU Fan
In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Britain and its dominions agreed they were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." Compaq Presario CQ60-301sl CPU Fan
These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which applied to Canada without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundland had to ratify the statute for it to take effect. Newfoundland never did, as on 16 February 1934, with the consent of its parliament, TOSHIBA Satellite L300 CPU Fan
the government of Newfoundland voluntarily ended and governance reverted to direct control from London. Newfoundland later joined Canada as its 10th province in 1949. Australia and New Zealand ratified the Statute in 1942 and 1947 respectively.
After World War II ended, the British Empire was gradually dismantled to the 14 British overseas territories still held by the United Kingdom. ASUS Eee PC 701 CPU Fan
In April 1949, following the London Declaration, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth to reflect its changing nature. Burma (also known asMyanmar, 1948) and Aden (1967) are the only states that were British colonies at the time of the war not to have joined the Commonwealth upon independence. Compaq Presario CQ60-305sa CPU Fan
Former British protectorates and mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt (independent in 1922), Iraq (1932), Transjordan (1946),British Palestine (part of which became the state of Israel in 1948), Sudan (1956), British Somaliland (which united with the former Italian Somaliland in 1960 to form Somalia), HP 637607-001 CPU Fan
Kuwait (1961), Bahrain (1971), Oman (1971), Qatar (1971), and the United Arab Emirates (1971).
The ending of Ireland's Commonwealth membership as from 18 April 1949 was recognised after the Irish Republic of Ireland Act 1948 had come into force on that day and the UK Ireland Act 1949 had been passed with retrospective effect.
While Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth since the early 1930s and was content to leave, HP Pavilion dv7-3067nr CPU Fan
other dominions wished to become republics without cutting their ties with Britain. The issue came to a head in April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers' meeting in London. Under the London Declaration, India agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, it would accept the British Sovereign as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth". HP Pavilion dv5-1210ez CPU Fan
Upon hearing this, King George VI told the Indian politician Krishna Menon: "So, I've become 'as such'". The other Commonwealth countries recognised India's continuing membership of the association. At Pakistan's insistence, India was not regarded as an exceptional case and it was assumed that other states would be accorded the same treatment as India. Compaq Presario CQ50-211nr CPU Fan
The London Declaration is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern Commonwealth. Following India's precedent, other nations became republics, orconstitutional monarchies with their own monarchs, while some countries retained the same monarch as the United Kingdom, but their monarchies developed differently and soon became fully independent of the British monarchy. HP G56-114SA CPU Fan
The monarch of each Commonwealth realm, while the same person, is regarded as a separatelegal personality for each realm.
As the Commonwealth grew, Britain and the pre-1945 dominions became informally known as the Old Commonwealth and planners in the interwar period, like Lord Davies, who had also taken "a prominent part in building up the League of Nations Union" in the United Kingdom, SONY Vaio VGN-CR21Z/N CPU Fan
in 1932 founded the New Commonwealth Society, of which Winston Churchill became the president. This new society was aimed at the creation of an international air force to be the arm of the League of Nations, to allow nations to disarm and safeguard the peace.
The term New Commonwealth has been used in Great Britain (especially in the 1960s and 1970s) to refer to recently decolonised countries, HP Pavilion dv7-4060eo CPU Fan
predominantly non-whiteand developing. It was often used in debates about immigration from these countries.
Under the formula of the London Declaration, Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth, a title that is by law a part of Elizabeth's royal titles in each of the Commonwealth realms, the 16 members of the Commonwealth that recognise the Queen as their monarch. Toshiba Satellite M70-252 CPU Fan
However, when the monarch dies, the successor to the crown does not automatically become Head of the Commonwealth. The position is symbolic, representing the free association of independent members, the majority of which (33) are republics, and five have monarchs of different royal houses. Toshiba Satellite A100-455 CPU Fan
The main decision-making forum of the organisation is the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Commonwealth heads of government, including (amongst others) prime ministers and presidents, assemble for several days to discuss matters of mutual interest. HP Pavilion dv5-2112br CPU Fan
CHOGM is the successor to the Meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and, earlier, the Imperial Conferences and Colonial Conferences, dating back to 1887. There are also regular meetings of finance ministers, law ministers, health ministers, etc. Members in arrears, as special members before them, are not invited to send representatives to either ministerial meetings or CHOGMs. DELL BFB0505HA CPU Fan
The head of government hosting the CHOGM is called the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office and retains the position until the following CHOGM. After the most recent CHOGM, in Perth, Western Australia, in October 2011, Australia's then-prime minister,Julia Gillard, became Chairperson-in-Office. HP Pavilion dv6-3299en CPU Fan
In 2013, CHOGM will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 10–17 November. Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, will become the Chairperson-in-Office and will continue to hold the title until the next CHOGM in Mauritius in 2015.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth, SONY Vaio VGN-NW11Z/T CPU Fan
facilitating consultation and cooperation among member governments and countries. It is responsible to member governments collectively. The Commonwealth of Nations is represented in the United Nations General Assembly by the secretariat as an observer. The secretariat organises Commonwealth summits, meetings of ministers, consultative meetings and technical discussions; Toshiba Satellite L550-20W CPU Fan
it assists policy development and provides policy advice, and facilitates multilateral communication among the member governments. It also provides technical assistance to help governments in the social and economic development of their countries and in support of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values. HP Pavilion dv7-4183sf CPU Fan
The secretariat is headed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is elected by Commonwealth heads of government for no more than two four-year terms. The secretary-general and two deputy secretaries-general direct the divisions of the Secretariat. HP Pavilion dv7-3190ev CPU Fan
The present secretary-general is Kamalesh Sharma, from India, who took office on 1 April 2008, succeeding Don McKinnon of New Zealand (2000–2008), and was re-elected in 2011 to his second term in 2012. The first secretary-general wasArnold Smith of Canada (1965–75), followed by Sir Shridath Ramphal of Guyana (1975–90) and Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990–99). HP KSB06105HA CPU Fan
In recognition of their shared heritage and culture, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to each other. When engaging bilaterally with one another, Commonwealth governments exchange High Commissioners instead of ambassadors. Between two Commonwealth realms, they represent theHead of Government rather than the Head of State. HP G62-244CA CPU Fan
Outside of bilateralism, but some Commonwealth states consider other members to be foreign for certain purposes. For example, the High Court of Australia ruled, in Sue v Hill, that the United Kingdom is a foreign power for the purpose of Section 44 of theconstitution of Australia.
In addition, some members treat resident citizens of other Commonwealth countries preferentially to citizens of non-Commonwealth countries. HP Pavilion dv7-3190ei CPU Fan
Britain and several others, mostly in the Caribbean, grant the right to vote to Commonwealth citizens who reside in those countries. Some states, such as Canada and New Zealand, have abolished such preferences. In non-Commonwealth countries in which their own country is not represented, Commonwealth citizens may seek consular assistanceat the British embassy. HP G62-244CA CPU Fan
The criteria for membership of the Commonwealth of Nations have developed over time from a series of separate documents. The Statute of Westminster 1931, as a fundamental founding document of the organisation, laid out that membership required dominionhood. The 1949 London Declaration ended this, ASUS A6000R CPU Fan
allowing republican and indigenous monarchic members on the condition that they recognised the British monarch as the "Head of the Commonwealth". In the wake of the wave ofdecolonisation in the 1960s, these constitutional principles were augmented by political, economic, and social principles. HP Pavilion dv7-6011sg CPU Fan
The first of these was set out in 1961, when it was decided that respect for racial equality would be a requirement for membership, leading directly to the withdrawal of South Africa's re-application (which they were required to make under the formula of the London Declaration upon becoming a republic). Toshiba Satellite L300D-01P CPU Fan
The 14 points of the 1971 Singapore Declaration dedicated all members to the principles of world peace, liberty, human rights, equality, and free trade.
These criteria were unenforceable for two decades, until, in 1991, the Harare Declaration was issued, dedicating the leaders to applying the Singapore principles to the completion of decolonisation, the end of the Cold War, and the end of apartheid in South Africa. Compaq Presario CQ60-409CA CPU Fan
The mechanisms by which these principles would be applied were created, and the manner clarified, by the 1995 Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme, which created the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which has the power to rule on whether members meet the requirements for membership under the Harare Declaration. HP Mini 110-3010sf CPU Fan
Also in 1995, an Inter-Governmental Group was created to finalise and codify the full requirements for membership. Upon reporting in 1997, as adopted under the Edinburgh Declaration, the Inter-Governmental Group ruled that any future members would have to have a direct constitutional link with an existing member. Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4056 CPU Fan
In addition to this new rule, the former rules were consolidated into a single document. These requirements are that members must accept and comply with theHarare principles, be fully sovereign states, recognise the monarch of the Commonwealth realms as the Head of the Commonwealth, accept the English language as the means of Commonwealth communication, Toshiba Satellite M70-142 CPU Fan
and respect the wishes of the general population with regard to Commonwealth membership. These requirements had undergone review, and a report on potential amendments was presented by the Committee on Commonwealth Membership at the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. DELL Inspiron E1505 CPU Fan
New members were not admitted at this meeting, though applications for admission were considered at the 2009 CHOGM.
New members must "as a general rule" have a direct constitutional link to an existing member. In most cases, this is due to being a former colony of the United Kingdom, but some have links to other countries, HP 532613-001 CPU Fan
either exclusively or more directly (e.g. Samoa to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea to Australia, and Namibia to South Africa). The first member to be admitted without having any constitutional link to the British Empire or a Commonwealth member was Mozambique, a formerPortuguese colony, in 1995 following its first democratic elections and South Africa's re-admission in 1994. HP Envy 14-1080eo CPU Fan
Mozambique's controversial entry led to theEdinburgh Declaration and the current membership guidelines. In 2009, Rwanda became the second Commonwealth member admitted not to have any such constitutional links. It was a Belgian trust territory that had been a German colony until World War I.[39ACER TravelMate 5230 CPU Fan
] Consideration for its admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Commonwealth comprises 53 countries (excluding one currently suspended member), across all six inhabited continents. The members have a combined population of 2.1 billion people, almost a third of the world population, Lenovo 3000 G430 CPU Fan
of which 1.17 billion live in India and 94% live in Asia and Africa combined. After India, the next-largest Commonwealth countries by population arePakistan (176 million), Bangladesh (156 million), Nigeria (154 million), the United Kingdom (63 million) and South Africa(52 million). Tuvalu is the smallest member, with about 10,000 people. ASUS EEE PC 1215N CPU Fan
The land area of the Commonwealth nations is about 31,500,000 km2 (12,200,000 sq mi), or about 21% of the total world land area. The three largest Commonwealth nations by area are Canada at 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi), Australia at 7,617,930 km2 (2,941,300 sq mi), and India at 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi). Dell Vostro 3750 CPU Fan
The Commonwealth members have a combined gross domestic product of over $9 trillion, 78% of which is accounted for by the four largest economies: United Kingdom ($2.4 trillion), Canada ($1.8 trillion), India ($1.8 trillion) and Australia ($1.5 trillion).
The status of "Member in Arrears" is used to denote those that are in arrears in paying subscription dues. Toshiba Satellite L500-018 CPU Fan
The status was originally known as "special membership", but was renamed on the Committee on Commonwealth Membership's recommendation.There are currently no Members in Arrears. The most recent Member in Arrears, Nauru, returned to full membership in June 2011. Nauru has alternated between special and full membership since joining the Commonwealth, depending on its financial situation. COMPAQ Presario CQ42-116TU CPU Fan
In 1997 the Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed that in order to become a member of the Commonwealth, an applicant country should, as a rule, have had a constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member; that it should comply with Commonwealth values, principles and priorities as set out in the Harare Declaration; HP Pavilion dv6-2115eg CPU Fan
and that it should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions.
South Sudan is currently (2013) the only country specifically expressing an interest in joining the Commonwealth. Some commentators have suggested that Israel and Palestine have considered applying for membership, but there has been no formal approach." Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4056 CPU Fan
Other eligible applicants could be any of the remaining inhabited British overseas territories, Crown dependencies,Australian external territories and Associated States of New Zealand if they become fully independent. Many such jurisdictions are already directly represented within the Commonwealth, particularly through the Commonwealth Family. HP 646578-001 CPU Fan
There are also former British possessions that have not become independent, for example, Hong Kong, which still participates in some of the institutions within the Commonwealth Family. All three Crown dependencies regard the existing situation as unsatisfactory and have lobbied for change. SONY VAIO PCG-6L2L CPU Fan
The States of Jersey have called on the UK Foreign Secretary to request that the Commonwealth Heads of Government "consider granting associate membership to Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies as well as any other territories at a similarly advanced stage of autonomy". Jersey has proposed that it be accorded "self-representation in all Commonwealth meetings; Toshiba Satellite X205-S9349 CPU Fan
full participation in debates and procedures, with a right to speak where relevant and the opportunity to enter into discussions with those who are full members; and no right to vote in the Ministerial or Heads of Government meetings, which is reserved for full members". DELL yy529 CPU Fan
The States of Guernsey and the Government of the Isle of Man have made calls of a similar nature for a more integrated relationship with the Commonwealth, including more direct representation and enhanced participation in Commonwealth organisations and meetings, including Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. HP Pavilion dv7-3020es CPU Fan
The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man has said: "A closer connection with the Commonwealth itself would be a welcome further development of the Island’s international relationships"
At the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956, in the face of colonial unrest and international tensions, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet proposed to British Prime Minister Anthony Eden that their two countries be joined in a "union". HP G62-369TX CPU Fan
When that proposal was turned down, Mollet suggested that France be allowed to join the Commonwealth, with "a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis." In 1957, after both proposals had been rejected, France signed theTreaty of Rome with West Germany and the other founding nations of the Common Market, later to become the European Union (EU), HP 13.V1.BJ195.F.GN CPU Fan
which the United Kingdom joined in 1973. The other European members of the Commonwealth (Malta and Cyprus) joined the EU in 2004.
In recent years, the Commonwealth has suspended several members "from the Councils of the Commonwealth" for "serious or persistent violations" of the Harare Declaration, particularly in abrogating their responsibility to have democratic government. Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7016 CPU Fan
This is done by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which meets regularly to address potential breaches of the Harare Declaration. Suspended members are not represented at meetings of Commonwealth leaders and ministers, although they remain members of the organisation. Currently, there is one suspended member, Fiji. HP Pavilion dv7-1451nr CPU Fan
Nigeria was suspended between 11 November 1995 and 29 May 1999, following its execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa on the eve of the 1995 CHOGM. Pakistan was the second country to be suspended, on 18 October 1999, following the military coup by Pervez Musharraf. The Commonwealth's longest suspension came to an end on 22 May 2004, HP G62-a57SG CPU Fan
when Pakistan's suspension was lifted following the restoration of the country's constitution. Pakistan was suspended for a second time, far more briefly, for six months from 22 November 2007, when Musharraf called a state of emergency. Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns regarding the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government, before it withdrew from the organisation in 2003. SONY Vaio VGN-NR31S/S CPU Fan
The declaration of a Republic in Fiji in 1987, after military coups designed to deny Indo-Fijians political power, was not accompanied by an application to remain. Commonwealth membership was held to have lapsed until 1997, after discriminatory provisions in the republican constitution were repealed and reapplication for membership made. IBM 91P9252 CPU Fan
Fiji has since been suspended twice, with the first imposed from 6 June 2000 to 20 December 2001 after another coup. Fiji was suspended yet again in December 2006, following the most recent coup. At first, the suspension applied only to membership on the Councils of the Commonwealth.After failing to meet a Commonwealth deadline for setting a date for national elections by 2010, Fiji was "fully suspended" on 1 September 2009.Toshiba Satellite M70-122 CPU Fan
The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, confirmed that full suspension meant that Fiji would be excluded from Commonwealth meetings, sporting events and the technical assistance programme (with an exception for assistance in re-establishing democracy). SONY UDQFWPH22FQU CPU Fan
Sharma stated that Fiji would remain a member of the Commonwealth during its suspension, but would be excluded from emblematic representation by the secretariat.
Most recently, international pressure has been mounting to suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth and to change the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Sri Lanka to another member country, HP Pavilion dv6-2150ei CPU Fan
citing grave human rights violations by the host country. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper has threatened to boycott the event and the UK Foreign Affairs Committee has called upon Prime Minister David Cameron not to attend.
As membership is purely voluntary, member governments can choose at any time to leave the Commonwealth. HP G42-367TU CPU Fan
Pakistan left on 30 January 1972 in protest at the Commonwealth's recognition of breakaway Bangladesh, but rejoined on 2 August 1989. Zimbabwe's membership was suspended in 2002 on the grounds of alleged human rights violations and deliberate misgovernment, and Zimbabwe's government terminated its membership in 2003. Toshiba Satellite P100-238 CPU Fan
The Gambia left the Commonwealth on 3 October 2013.
Although heads of government have the power to suspend member states from active participation, the Commonwealth has no provision for the expulsion of members. Until 2007, Commonwealth realms that became republics automatically ceased to be members, ACER Aspire 5739 CPU Fan
until (like India in 1950) they obtained the permission of other members to remain in the organisation. This policy has been changed, so if any current Commonwealth realms were to become republics, they would not have to go through this process.
Ireland had withdrawn its participation in the Commonwealth in the 1930s, attending its last Commonwealth governmental heads' meeting in 1932. IBM ThinkPad T40 2678 CPU Fan
However it continued to be regarded by the Commonwealth as a Commonwealth member until it declared itself a republic, on 18 April 1949. It is the only country whose membership terminated without any declaration withdrawing from the organisation. Instead, it was (with its own tacit support) excluded from the organisation under the rules then applicable. IBM Thinkpad T43 CPU Fan
South Africa was prevented from continuing as a member after it became a republic in 1961, due to hostility from many members, particularly those in Africa and Asia as well as Canada, to its policy of apartheid. The South African government withdrew its application to remain in the organisation as a republic when it became clear at the 1961 Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers IBM ThinkPad T43 2668 CPU Fan
that any such application would be rejected. South Africa was re-admitted to the Commonwealth in 1994, following the end of apartheid earlier that year.
The Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 ended the colony's ties to the Commonwealth through the United Kingdom. The government of Hong Kong, as aspecial administrative region of China, did not pursue membership. IBM ThinkPad T43 1871 CPU Fan
Hong Kong has nevertheless continued to participate in some of the organisations of the Commonwealth family, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel. ACER Travelmate 8104WLMI CPU Fan
The Commonwealth's objectives were first outlined in the 1971 Singapore Declaration, which committed the Commonwealth to the institution of world peace; promotion of representative democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality and opposition to racism; the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease; and free trade. DELL Latitude E4300 CPU Fan
To these were added opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender by the Lusaka Declaration of 1979, and environmental sustainability by the Langkawi Declaration of 1989. These objectives were reinforced by the Harare Declaration in 1991.
The Commonwealth's current highest-priority aims are on the promotion of democracy and development, ASUS F80S CPU Fan
as outlined in the 2003 Aso Rock Declaration, which built on those in Singapore and Harare and clarified their terms of reference, stating, "We are committed to democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality, and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of globalisation." The Commonwealth website lists its areas of work as: HP Pavilion dv5-1058eo CPU Fan
Democracy, Economics, Education, Gender, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Small States, Sport, Sustainability, and Youth.Through a separate voluntary fund, Commonwealth governments support the Commonwealth Youth Programme, a division of the Secretariat with offices in Gulu(Uganda), IBM 13N5182 CPU Fan
Lusaka (Zambia), Chandigarh (India), Georgetown (Guyana) and Honiara (Solomon Islands).
In recent years, the Commonwealth has been accused of not being vocal enough on its core values. Allegations of a leaked memo from the Secretary General instructing staff not to speak out on human rights were published in October 2010. IBM Thinkpad T30 2366-AA3 CPU Fan
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 considered a report by an Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group panel which asserted that the organisation had lost its relevance and was decaying due to the lack of a mechanism to censure member countries when they violated human rights or democratic norms. IBM Thinkpad T30 CPU Fan
The panel made 106 "urgent" recommendations including the adoption of a Charter of the Commonwealth, the creation of a new commissioner on the rule of law, democracy and human rights to track persistent human rights abuses and allegations of political repression by Commonwealth member states, recommendations for the repeal oflaws against homosexuality in 41 Commonwealth states and a ban on forced marriage.HP 535438-001 CPU Fan
The failure to release the report, or accept its recommendations for reforms in the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, was decried as a "disgrace" by former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a member of the EPG, who told a press conference: "The Commonwealth faces a very significant problem. DELL Inspiron N3010 CPU Fan
It's not a problem of hostility or antagonism, it's more of a problem of indifference. Its purpose is being questioned, its relevance is being questioned and part of that is because its commitment to enforce the values for which it stands is becoming ambiguous in the eyes of many member states. The Commonwealth is not a private club of the governments or the secretariat. HP Pavilion dv6-3070tx CPU Fan
It belongs to the people of the Commonwealth."
In the end, two-thirds of the EPG's 106 urgently recommended reforms were referred to study groups, an act described by one EPG member as having them "kicked into the long grass". There was no agreement to create the recommended position of human rights commissioner, IBM 41W5269 CPU Fan
instead a ministerial management group was empowered with enforcement: the group includes alleged human rights offenders. It was agreed to develop a charter of values for the Commonwealth without any decision on how compliance with its principles would be enforced.
The result of the effort was that a new Charter of the Commonwealth was signed by Queen Elizabeth on 11 March 2013 at Marlborough House, ASUS A8H CPU Fan
which opposes "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds".
Although the Commonwealth does not have a common market, research by the Royal Commonwealth Society has shown that trade with another Commonwealth member is up to 50% more than with a non-member on average. SONY UDQFRZH13CF0 CPU Fan
There is a significant movement in the United Kingdom to increase trade in the Commonwealth, with some suggesting a Commonwealth Union as an alternative to its membership in the European Union.
Commonwealth countries share many links outside government, with over a hundred Commonwealth-wide non-governmental organisations, HP COMPAQ 2510P CPU Fan
notably for sport, culture, education, law and charity. The Association of Commonwealth Universities is an important vehicle for academic links, particularly through scholarships, principally the Commonwealth Scholarship, for students to study in universities in other Commonwealth countries. APPLE 661-4951 CPU Fan
There are also many non-official associations that bring together individuals who work within the spheres of law and government, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
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