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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 

Lt General Sir Jerremiah Mateparae sworn in as NZ G-G Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
 

His Excellency The Right Honourable Lieutenant General Sir Jeremiah Mateparae GNZM QSO is to be sworn in in Wellington as  Governor-General of New Zealand on Wednesday 31 August 2011. The public are invited.

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General Mateparae will serve in succession to the Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, who completed his term of office on 23 August 2011.






...General Sir Jerry Mateparae...

 

 

 

General Jerry Mateparae, the third son of Rangiwhaiuru Mateparae and Rangitunoa Mateparae (nee Tahau), was born in Wanganui on the 14th of November 1954.

He completed his primary and secondary school education in Wanganui at Castlecliff Primary School, Rutherford Intermediate School and Wanganui High School.

Of Maori descent, General Mateparae’s tribal affiliations are to Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Kahungunu.

He also has links to Tuhoe and tribes in the upper Whanganui.His current appointment is Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which he took up on 7 February 2011.

Prior to joining GCSB, he had a 38 year career with the New Zealand Defence Force, which culminated in his appointment as Chief of Defence Force in the rank of Lieutenant General from 1 May 2006 until 24 January 2011.



General Mateparae was the first officer of Maori descent to hold the rank and appointment.He enlisted into the Regular Force of the New Zealand Army in June 1972.


(Continued below)

 
Read more...
 
Canada - creeping republicanism reversed at last Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 22 August 2011

Restoring the names of the three branches of the Canadian Forces was "a long time coming," according to the Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who officially announced the name changes in Halifax on 9 August 2011 (Bryn Weese, Toronto Sun, 16 August,2011)


Image
[HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada with the crew of HMCS St. Laurent in Stockholm, Sweden, June 11, 1956.]
 

From now on, those cumbersome names imposed by the republican elites - Maritime Command, Air Command and Land Force Command - will no longer used. Their former glorious names,  the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army,- have at long last been restored.




..creeping republicanism...

 


Those names were dropped, as were the three branches' distinctive uniforms, in 1968 when the Liberal government unified them into the Canadian Forces allegedly to increase operational efficiency and save money. "It really, in my view, was overkill, the stripping away of the royal designations and the loss of the distinct uniforms. The forced unification caused tremendous demoralization and even defection in terms of senior members and members of the forces choosing to leave," Mr. MacKay said.

"It was a bit of an open sore for a long time."

Restoring the names, he added, "is the right decision and a long time coming."

The Toronto Sun's Bryn Weese said the  announcement comes 100 years to the day after the Canadian Naval Service received the royal designation from King George V to become the Royal Canadian Navy.

The changes will not have an effect on operational command of the Canadian Forces, and the government doesn't expect the name changes will cost much money. 

But MacKay is hoping the change will have a positive effect on morale, esprit de corps, and "how Canadians view their military

"It gives us the perspective and the historic ties that really never went away, despite Mr. Hellyer and previous governments' attempts to do so," he said. "It was always there. I think every member of the Canadian Forces past and present wears the royal on their hearts."



  .... Canadian reaction.... 




The reaction across Canada was mainly favourable. Robert Finch, the young Dominion Chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada said:

"I believe today is a great day for Canadian monarchists, veterans, and those who continue to serve Queen and country. From a monarchist perspective, we're delighted to see the visibility of the Crown enhanced.

"The royal designations help underline the fact that the armed forces are non-partisan. Serving men and women don't serve Parliament. They don't serve the prime minister or the minister of defence. Rather, they serve the Queen. 

"So, it's entirely appropriate to have a name that reflects this reality."


 ( Continued below)

Read more...
 
Republican attack on Commonwealth Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 12 August 2011

Some republicans never let an opportunity pass by. The announcement that the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, will not be attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth in October was the occasion for The Sydney Morning Herald, one of our most republican newspapers, to use this to advance its pro-republic anti-Commonwealth stance. 

That Realms, like Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, make up sixteen of the 54 member Commonwealth does not matter.

Image

 

Some republicans will use anything to kick the British and Commonwealth connection, desperately hoping that this helps revive their cause.
On this occasion, the Herald was drawing a very long bow indeed.


 ..."colonial club... with hangers-on"...




In “Indian PM out as colonial club loses its shine, “the Herald  (11/8) gloated that this “as another signal of the declining international relevance of the Commonwealth organisation made up mostly of former British colonies with a few hangers-on.”


Ben Dougherty, the reporter, added: “The organisation has been unable to deal with security crises among its members in recent years, suspending Fiji and Pakistan with little effect and having Zimbabwe withdraw from the group,” conveniently forgetting that no international organisation seems to have done much about internal security crises in its members and that the United Nations not only keeps the most appalling regimes among its members but has been known to allow them to chair Even the Human Rights Council. 




...likelier reasons..  



The Prime Minister is also believed to  have cancelled his attendance at a United Nations General Assembly summit.


 

  The Times of India (10/8) sees no such reason for the Prime Minister's non-attendance. Indeed, Manmohan Singh has shown no disinterest in the Commonwealth, having attended the last two CHOGM meetings in Port of Spain (2009) and Kampala (2007).

But,” The Times of India says “with political and economic uncertainties looming in India, Singh, never an avid traveller, has decided not to step out. In November, the PM will have to travel to Male for the SAARC summit anyway, and in September he will be paying a historic visit to Dhaka to reset relations in India's neighbourhood. “  

 There are a number of possible reasons for the Prime Minister not coming. Unlike Australian politicians he is apparently not an avid traveller. He has other commitments, one with a possible clash. The political situation in India demands that he give great attention to internal affairs.

It may well be that Australia is at fault. While we are quite happy to sell uranium to China, the government refuses to allow such sales to India. And then of course, there was the clear failure of the Victorian authorities to provide a minimum protection for Indian students.


(An Institute of Criminology apparently says that the Indian students weren't attacked because they were Indians; they were just in situations where they were likely to be attacked - working in petrol stations at night etc. That says a lot for the standards of law and order prevailing in Victoria and New South Wales. Perhaps their governments and Parliaments should have worried more about law and order than removing the symbols of the Australian Crown)   

  

 
Outspoken defence of The Queen of Jamaica Print E-mail
Written by Jason Green, Chairman, Caribbean Monarchist League   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011

Proposals by republican politicians to turn Jamaica into a politicians' republic may be as doomed as similar attempts in recent years in Australia, Tuvalu and St Vincent and the Grenadines (“Jamaican republicans seek refuge in that tedious head of state argument,” 30 June 2011).

As in Australia, Jamaicans are being lectured about the head of state by opportunist republicans. But like Australians, Jamaicans do not lie awake at night wondering who their head of state is.

Image
[ Caribbean Monarchist League ]

Jason Green, the Chairman of the Caribbean Monarchist League, has argued the case for the Jamaican monarchy in two outstanding letters to the Jamaican press. 

We would like to congratulate him for these superb submissions.

The first, “
All hail the monarchy!” was published in The Jamaican Observer on 16 May 2011. The second, “Yes to monarchy, no to republic… unless we have a plan” was published in The Jamaican Gleaner on 3 July 2011. These follow
 



...All hail the monarchy... 



As I listened to the prime minister's speech in Gordon House last Tuesday, I was appalled to hear him announce that he will be replacing the monarchy by 2012.

He proposed several reasons why he thinks it is necessary to do so. However I strongly disagree with him.First of all he says that becoming a republic will complete our sovereignty.

I was under the impression that we are already a sovereign state and this sovereignty was guaranteed to us by the the Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council 1962 which came at Independence.

I still fail to see how sharing the Queen with other Commonwealth Countries compromises our sovereignty in any shape or form.


(Continued below)
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Jamaican republicans seek refuge in that tedious head of state argument Print E-mail
Written by ACM & The Gleaner, Kingston   
Thursday, 30 June 2011

Proposals by republican politicians to turn Jamaica into a politicians' republic may be as doomed as similar attempts in recent years in Australia, Tuvalu and St Vincent and the Grenadines. As in Australia, Jamaicans are being lectured about the head of state. But like Australians, Jamaicans do not lie awake at night wondering who their head of state is.

 

Image
[The Queen of Jamaica knights Sir Patrick Linton Allen, ON, DC, Governor-General]



 With Jamaica getting ready to celebrate 50 years of political independence from the United Kingdom next year, the leading Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner reported on 28 June 2010 that  most Jamaicans are of the view that the country would have been better off had it remained a colony of Britain.

The following report was relayed on the Carribean Monarchist League Facebook and the Australian Monarchist Alliance:-



...poll... 

 

Pollster Bill Johnson, who, on May 28 and 29 and June 4 and 5, conducted an islandwide survey among 1,008 people, found that 60 per cent of Jamaicans held the view the country would be better off under British rule.

Conversely, 17 per cent of those surveyed said the country would be worse off had it remained a colony of Britain, while 23 per cent said they did not know. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent.

The island has been independent since August 6, 1962, after the lobbying and hard work of individuals such as National Heroes Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley.

But that has failed to impress six in every 10 Jamaicans who long for "the good old days".

The culture ministry has started the process of setting up a secretariat to coordinate and drive the planning for Jamaica's 50th anniversary national celebrations next year. A total of $50 million has been set aside in the national Budget for the celebrations. Prime Minister Bruce Golding has also proposed that Jamaica say "bye-bye" to The Queen (Elizabeth II) as head of state before Independence Day next year.



....Free of monarchy....



In his contribution to the 2011-2012 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives in April, Golding said he wanted Jamaica to make its 50th year of Independence free of its colonial ties to the British monarchy.

"Transforming Jamaica from a monarchical to a republican state means no disrespect, and must not be interpreted in this way," Golding said."I have long believed that if I am to have a queen, it must be a Jamaican queen.

I would not wish to see us celebrate 50 years of Independence without completing that part of our 'sovereignisation', for want of a better word," he told legislators.The Government and Opposition have agreed to work towards putting in place certain constitutional arrangements, including replacing The Queen as head of state, before Jamaica turns 50.


Image
[ The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines say No]




....that tedious Head of State argument....

 
(Continued below)
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