Commonwealth of Nations


Commonwealth of Nations
Logo of Commonwealth of Nations
Logo
Member states of the Commonwealth
HeadquartersMarlborough House, London, United Kingdom
Working languageEnglish
TypeVoluntary association[1]
Member states
Leaders
• Head
Queen Elizabeth II
The Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Paul Kagame
Establishment
19 November 1926
11 December 1931[2]
28 April 1949
Area
• Total
29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi)
Population
• 2016 estimate
2,418,964,000
• Density
75/km2 (194.2/sq mi)

The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth,[3] is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire.[4] The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations amongst member states.[5]

The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nations[6] through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalised by the United Kingdom through the Statute of Westminster in 1931. The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernised the community and established the member states as "free and equal".[7]

The head of the Commonwealth is currently Queen Elizabeth II; the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting appointed Charles, Prince of Wales, to be her designated successor, although the position is not hereditary. Elizabeth II is the head of state of 15 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 36 other members are republics and 5 others have different monarchs.[8]

Member states have no legal obligations to one another but are connected through their use of the English language and historical ties. The Commonwealth Charter defines their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law,[9] as promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.

  1. ^ "Commonwealth Charter". 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019. Recalling that the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of our peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all through the pursuit of common principles and values
  2. ^ "Annex B – Territories Forming Part of the Commonwealth" (PDF). Her Majesty's Civil Service. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  3. ^ "BBC News – Profile: The Commonwealth". news.bbc.co.uk. February 2012.
  4. ^ "About us". The Commonwealth. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. ^ "The Commonwealth". The Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Imperial Conference 1926 Inter-Imperial Relations Committee Report, Proceedings and Memoranda" (PDF). November 1926. Retrieved 14 June 2018. Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
  7. ^ "The London Declaration". The Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 6 July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  8. ^ "The Commonwealth". The Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Charter of the Commonwealth". The Commonwealth. Retrieved 30 June 2013.[dead link]

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