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6.Загальні відомості про країни – члени Співдружності./General facts about the Commonwealth members.

The Commonwealth of Nations or The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of autonomous sovereign states most of which have been under British rule at some point in their history. It was formally established in 1931 and meets to discuss matters of common interest and concern.

No one of the government member exercises power over the others, but rather, the relationship is one of an international organization by which all the countries with diverse social, economic and political backgrounds regard each other as equal in status.

As outlined in the Singapore Declaration, the framework of common goals and values include the promotion of democracy, egalitarianism, free trade, good governance, human rights, individual liberty, multilateralism, rule of law, and world peace. All these are carried out through multilateral projects, and activities including the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.

The head of the Commonwealth of Nations is Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch. As Her Majesty’s position is symbolic, the Commonwealth Secretary-General is the chief executive of the organization.

Brief History of The Commonwealth of Nations

The official launch of The Commonwealth was in 1931 when the Statue of Westminster gave legal recognition to the independence of dominions known as the “British Commonwealth.” The first members were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State and Dominion of Newfoundland and United Kingdom.

Ireland left after passing The Republic of Ireland Act in 1949. Newfoundland government was suspended on February 16, 1934, then joined Canada on March 31, 1949. Australia and New Zealand only adopted the statute in 1942 and 1947, respectively. The London Declaration was signed in 1949 marking the birth of the Commonwealth and renaming to its present name.

List of Member Countries of the Commonwealth Grouped by Year of Entry

There are currently 54 member states of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, Zambia, The Gambia, Singapore, Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nauru (special member), Swaziland, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji (Suspended 2006 due to the 2006 Fijian coup d’etat), Bangladesh, The Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Dominica, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Maldives, St Kitts and Nevis, Brunei, Namibia, Cameroon, Mozambique,Rwanda.

Presently, sixteen of the member states are “Commonwealth Realms” with the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, also their head of state: Apart from the United Kingdom, the other nations include: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Queen Elizabeth is represented by a Governor-General in each realm.

Five other member nations are monarchies with their own separate monarchs: Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga. The rest of the members are republics.

The Commonwealth Secretariat

The central institution and intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth of Nations is the Commonwealth Secretariat under the leadership of a Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is responsible for facilitating cooperation between members including assisting and advising on policy development, and providing assistance to countries in implementing the policies and decisions of the Commonwealth. It has observer status in the United Nations General Assembly.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is located in London, the United Kingdom, at Marlborough House. It was a former royal palace given by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Commonwealth Secretaries-General, Term of office, and Nation of Origin

1965-1975 Arnold Smith, Canada

1975-1990 Shridath Ramphal, Guyana

1990-2000 Emeka Anyaoku, Nigeria

2000-2008 Donald C McKinnon, New Zealand

2008- Kamalesh Sharma, India

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