Commonwealth of Nations
|Headquarters||Marlborough House, London, United Kingdom|
|Queen Elizabeth II|
|The Baroness Scotland of Asthal|
|19 November 1926|
|11 December 1931|
|28 April 1949|
|29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi)|
• 2016 estimate
|75/km2 (194.2/sq mi)|
The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. 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.
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 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".
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.
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, as promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.
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
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.
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