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ACM Home arrow The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth
The Commonwealth


The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-three independent member states which grew out of the British Empire.

Only two members, Mozambique and Rwanda, were not British colonies.

The member states cooperate within a framework of common values and goals including the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace.

 The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General. Meetings of  Commonwealth Heads of Government are held every two years.

 Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth and as such is a symbol of the members free association.  Her Majesty is also the monarch of 16 members of the Commonwealth which are referred to as Commonwealth realms. 



...history...


The first usage of the term ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ appears to be to have been in 1884 by Lord Rosebery when he was visiting Australia.  He described the changing the British Eempire  with some of its colonies becoming more independent as a Commonwealth of Nations.

Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers had occurred periodically since 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 Christian Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations," and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in the British Empire."  Smuts successfully argued that the Empire should be represented at the all-important Versailles Conference of 1919 by delegates from the dominions as well as Britain.

 In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Great 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".

The members agreed that in future governors general should be appointed by the sovereign after consultation with and advice from the ministers of the respective Dominion.

These aspects to the relationship were eventually formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundland delayed ratification of the statute.  Newfoundland never did as it joined Canada in 1948 . Australia and New Zealand did in 1942 and 1947 respectively.



...British Commonwealth becomes The Commonwealth....



After World War II, the British Empire was gradually dismantled to just 14 British overseas territories, still held by the United Kingdom today.

In April 1949, following the London Declaration, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth to reflect its changing nature.  

In addition, it was agreed that the overseas members should no longer be referred to as dominions, but rather as Commonwealth realms

Burma (also known as Myanmar, 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 post-war independence.





...absent friends...




Among the former British colonies, protectorates and mandates  which have  never become members of the Commonwealth are the United States (1776)  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 became part of Somalia in 1960), Kuwait (1961), Bahrain (1971), Oman (1971), Qatar (1971), and the United Arab Emirates (1971).



...republics...

The issue of countries with constitutional structures not based on a shared Crown but that wanted to remain members of the Commonwealth, came to a head in 1948 with passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, in which Ireland renounced the sovereignty of the Crown[ and thus left the Commonwealth. The Ireland Act 1949 passed by the Parliament of Westminster offered citizens of the Republic of Ireland a status similar to that of citizens of the Commonwealth in UK law.

In April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers meeting in London, it was agreed that a realm could become a republic and if approved by the other members could remain within the Commonwealth.

 Under this 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".


...until 2007, re-apply...
 

Until 2007, a realm wishing to become a republic still had to reapply for membership of the Commonwealth.  This would have to be approved by all members.  In 1999, ACM revealed that Australian republicans, including the Attorney-General had overlooked the requirements of the London declaration. 

Constitutional monarchists criticised the Republicans for not ascertaing this and ensuring that there would be no objection from other members to any change of status.  This would have required unanimous approval of other members. In practice approval seems to have been ssumed in the absence of an objection.  At that time Australia did not have the most friendly relations with the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir. He had vetoed our membership of another international group.

Now,  change to a republic can be effected without reapplication provided the member is observing all of the Commonwealth criteria for membership. The judgement on this is made by the other members acting unanimously.  Thus it could be argued that the 2007 decision could still raise the issue of a veto following a change of status .

Following India's precedent, other nations became republics, or constitutional 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. The monarch of each Commonwealth realm, whilst the same person, is regarded as a separate legal personality for each realm.  In 1999 th 

Queens Baton Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Thursday, 29 May 2014
The Queen’s Baton and 33Fifty Book has now arrived in the UK.  33Fifty is the name of the Commonwealth Youth Leadership programme. It's name comes from the fact that 33% of the world's population lives in the Commonwealth and that 50% are under 25.

The Queen’s Baton Relay, accompanied by the 33Fifty Book, arrived in the UK on the 11th of May, heading first to Jersey.The Book continued to Guernsey on 13th May, to be signed by Charlie Cox, chosen for her outstanding contributions to her community. It then moved to the Isle of Man on 16th May and was signed by Mukunda Measuria, a gymnast in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as shown in the picture below.  

The Book was signed by Rebecca Dunn; junior winner in the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition and the recipient of the RCS Jersey Award Cup, and Theodore Stone; senior bronze winner in the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition.

They wrote:

“We believe that everyone living in the Commonwealth has the right to a high standard of education so that they have an opportunity to improve their lives, regardless of their gender, creed or background.”
 



Photo: The Queen’s Baton and 33Fifty Book has now arrived in  the UK. The Book continued to Guernsey on 13th May, to be signed by Charlie Cox, chosen for her outstanding contributions to her community.  It then moved to the Isle of Man on 16th May, and was signed by Mukunda Measuria, a gymnast in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  Queen’s Baton and 33Fifty Book reach the UK.  The Queen’s Baton Relay, accompanied by the 33Fifty Book, arrived in the UK on the 11th of May, heading first to Jersey.   The Book was signed by Rebecca Dunn; junior winner in the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition and the recipient of the RCS Jersey Award Cup, and Theodore Stone; senior bronze winner in the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition.   They wrote: “We believe that everyone living in the Commonwealth has the right to a high standard of education so that they have an opportunity to improve their lives, regardless of their gender, creed or background.”
 
Commonwealth Day, London 2014 Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014

 As in Australia where The Queen's message is traditionally read at a Commonwealth Day function at Parliament House Sydney, an observance for Commonwealth Day 2014 was held at Westminster Abbey, London in the presence of HM The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Service was conducted by The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall. The theme of the service was 'Team Commonwealth' 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: As in Australia where The Queen's message is traditionally  read at a Commonwealth Day function at Parliament House Sydney, an observance for Commonwealth Day 2014 was held at Westminster Abbey, London in the presence of HM The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl and Countess of Wessex.   The Service was conducted by The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall. The theme of the service was 'Team Commonwealth'   In this picture we see The Pipes and Drums of Gordon's School Friends of Gordon's School.   © PICTURE PARTNERSHIP 2014.
 
 
 In this picture we see The Pipes and Drums of Gordon's School Friends of Gordon's School.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo: HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, meets guests at the Commonwealth Secretary-General's reception for Commonwealth Day, 10 March 2014 .
 
 
 
 HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, meets guests at the Commonwealth Secretary-General's reception for Commonwealth Day, 10 March 2014 .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Photo: As in Australia where The Queen's message is traditionally  read at a Commonwealth Day function at Parliament House Sydney - always well attended by members of ACM -  an observance for Commonwealth Day 2014 was held at Westminster Abbey, London in the presence of HM The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl and Countess of Wessex.   The Service was conducted by The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall. The theme of the service was 'Team Commonwealth'  Here HM The Queen meets Malala Yousafzai Malala Fund who gave the Address  © PICTURE PARTNERSHIP 2014.
 
 
 
HM The Queen meets Malala Yousafzai Malala Fund who gave the Address. © PICTURE PARTNERSHIP 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Commonwealth Day 2014 Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 10 March 2014

Commonwealth Day was celebrated on 10 March 2014 by the NSW Commonwealth Day Council at Parliament House Sydney. Her Excellency the Governor, Professor Bashir, read a message from HM The Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. ACM took up the largest number of group tables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Commonwealth Day was celebrated on 10 March 2014 by the NSW Commonwealth Day Council at Parliament House Sydney.  Her Excellency the Governor, Professor Bashir, read a message from HM The Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. ACM took up the largest number of group tables.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo: The Governor was received in the forecourt and inspected the  Scots College Band at the Commonwealth Day function referred to below. This image is from 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo: The entry of the Governor into Parliament House between children parading the flags of the Commonwealth on Commonwealth Day 2013. This was repeated on 10 March 2014 ( see below)
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
Photo: Another image by Ian Bird of the 2012 Commonwealth Day Debate.  The Debate is held every year among NSW schools on the second Monday in March, normally in the Legislative Assembly chamber.   It precedes the Commonwealth Day Lunch where the Governor reads a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, The Queen.   The Governor normally reviews the Scots College Pipe Band in the forecourt of the Parliament, the oldest in the nation.
The images above are from  Commonwealth Day, 2012. They are by Ian Bird.
 
 
Commonwealth Day Debate 2014 Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 10 March 2014

The Commonwealth Day Debate between leading NSW school debating teams was held on 10 March 2014 in the NSW Legislative Assembly Chamber. The subject this year was ''That the Commonwealth Games should include cricket.''
 

These scenes are  from the 2012 debate.  They are by Ian Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The Commonwealth Day Debate between leading NSW school debating teams was held on 10 March 2014 in the NSW  Legislative Assembly Chamber. The subject this year was ''That the Commonwealth Games should include cricket.''' This is a scene from the 2013 debate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo: Another view of the Commonwealth Day Debate last year,
 
 
 
Photo: The Commonwealth Day function referred to in the post below was preceded by a debate by leading school teams held in the Legislative Assembly. The subject was ''That the Commonwealth Games should include cricket.'' The image is from the 2013 debate.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Jamaican Crown Print E-mail
Written by Kevin O'Brien Chang   
Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"Puma on track for millions of pounds' worth of free publicity as images of Prince Harry posing with Usain Bolt go global." - The Guardian, March 7, 2012

Well, however much that tiny logo on Harry's shirt earned Puma, it cannot be close to the windfall that big Jamaica on his chest brought to this country. No doubt the picture and video of King Usain and the Prince doing 'the arrow' will also be a poster child for the 2012 London Olympics.

The entire Jamaican tourist industry must be grinning ear to ear, and those myopic 'stop waste the $3 million pon white man colonialist and feed poor people' grandstanders must feel rather foolish now.

For the country has reaped the kind of positive publicity money simply can't buy. Scenes of the dance group spontaneously getting Harry to join them in jamming to One Love were priceless advertisements for Brand Jamaica - 'a country so vibesy and full of fun, not even a prince can resist joining in!'

 Image


....cheering crowds...

Read more...
 
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