How Many Countries In The Commonwealth – As Britain negotiates its future relationship with the European Union, London has put forward a more outward-looking foreign policy vision known as “Global Britain”. At the heart of this drive to re-establish Britain on the world stage is the Commonwealth of Nations, a loose organization of nations spanning almost every continent that emerged from the British Empire.
Critics have called Commonwealth institutions outdated and ineffective, and the group has sometimes come under fire for human rights abuses and inconsistent responses to anti-democratic governments. But supporters say the commonwealth’s fast-growing economies, based on a common history and common language, offer Britain an ideal platform to advance its trade agenda and deepen ties with like-minded countries.
How Many Countries In The Commonwealth
The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of fifty-four countries that developed mostly from the former territories of the British Empire. (Several countries with no historical ties to Britain have joined in recent years, such as Rwanda and Mozambique.) In addition to Britain, these countries include Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and many others across Asia and Africa, totaling 2.4 billion people, or one-third of the world’s population. The gross domestic product of its members is $10 trillion, or about 14 percent of global GDP.
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The head of the Commonwealth of Nations is Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. The 1949 London Declaration established the Commonwealth in its current form, declaring the monarch [PDF], then King George VI, to be “the symbol of the free association of sovereign member states.”
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This association differs from the fifteen countries outside the UK where the British crown remains legally the head of state. Many former British colonies, including India, sought to remain part of the Commonwealth of Nations and continue to associate with Britain without being legally part of the British Crown. This is how the separate title of Head of the Commonwealth of Nations was created, which does not have to be a member of the British royal family.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a consensus-based intergovernmental organization with many goals, including economic development, the promotion of democracy, the promotion of free trade, poverty reduction, health programs, and cultural exchange. At the head of its day-to-day operations is the Secretary-General (now Patricia Scotland in the UK), who is appointed by the Commonwealth of Nations leaders for a period of no more than two to four years.
The Secretary-General heads the Commonwealth Secretariat, which was established in 1965 to manage more than eighty Commonwealth-administered organizations and organize the group’s regular meetings. The largest of these, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), brings together group leaders every two years to discuss policy priorities. Cabinet ministers for foreign affairs, trade, finance, education, health and other sectors also meet periodically to discuss commonwealth issues.
The Secretariat provides training and technical assistance to members and observes elections in more than forty countries. It supports many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities and hosts the world’s third largest sporting event, the Commonwealth Games, every four years.
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In 2012, Commonwealth leaders formally adopted the Commonwealth Charter, which formally commits sixteen common principles to member states. These include democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, sustainable development, and racial and gender equality.
Commonwealth members sometimes clash over group principles. Although the organization is limited to consensual actions, members have been punished and suspended for alleged human rights abuses in the past. Apartheid South Africa was one of the most publicized cases. In 1961, the South African government withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations due to opposition to its apartheid system of government, and in 1986 the Commonwealth approved a program of economic sanctions, including bans on air travel, bank loans and other investments. Country. After the 1994 South African elections, he was again recruited into the group.
The Commonwealth of Nations suspended the Nigerian military regime from 1995 to 1999 because of human rights abuses. He was suspended for several years in Pakistan after a military coup in 1999, and twice in Fiji for military coups. Zimbabwe’s 2002 suspension was extended indefinitely after Commonwealth observers criticized the country’s election, leading then-president Robert Mugabe to quit the group in 2003.
In February 2020, the Commonwealth of Nations reaccredited the Maldives after the country’s President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih implemented democratic reforms, including the release of political prisoners. The country withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations in 2016 to avoid suspension for human rights abuses.
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Despite these actions, some analysts point out that the institutional structure of the Commonwealth of Nations is weak, as it has few clear mechanisms to influence the behavior of its members and relies mostly on peer pressure and moral authority. Human rights activists say the organization ignores human rights abuses, including anti-LGBT+ laws in Gambia and Malawi, and widespread atrocities during the civil war in Sri Lanka, host of the 2013 Commonwealth summit.
There are also issues related to the functioning of the office. Internal reports show that members are concerned about lack of transparency and clarity about their mission and are uncertain about future funding. Scotland has come under fire for favoring deals with private friends, prompting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the unusual step of opposing his reappointment as chief secretary for a second term.
More broadly, skeptics say the group has become increasingly obsolete as Britain’s global leadership weakens. For the editors of The Economist, the group’s geopolitical importance is a “lovely illusion”, especially since it has done so little in the trade sector, where it has the most natural advantage. Funding levels are also relatively modest: the current budget, which includes the Commonwealth’s main technical assistance arm, the Youth Fund, and other development funding from the Secretariat is around $40 million. However, the European Union spends more than 100 billion US dollars a year on economic development and other aid.
Brexiteers skeptical of deeper integration with the EU have framed the Commonwealth as a more natural forum for Britain, based on historical ties, common use of the English language and similar legal traditions. With Brexit official and London busy negotiating a new trading relationship with the EU, some policymakers believe Britain’s post-EU future lies in deepening trade and immigration with the Commonwealth.
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Johnson, a former foreign secretary, said the Commonwealth’s higher economic growth compared to the EU offered more opportunities. Commonwealth economies have grown at an average of 4.4 per cent over the past 40 years, compared to two per cent in the European Union, with some major Commonwealth economies such as India growing at seven per cent per annum.
Some argue that Brexit will allow the UK to negotiate trade deals with these fast-growing regions of the world.
In this vision, which supporters have dubbed “Global Britain” [PDF], Brexit would allow Britain to secure trade deals with these fast-growing regions of the world. Supporters say it would allow the UK to focus on increasing highly skilled immigration from the Commonwealth of Independent States and avoid unlimited immigration from Europe under EU law.
Other observers doubt that the Commonwealth of Nations can equal the benefits of EU membership. The EU market accounts for almost half of the UK’s trade and the Commonwealth does not feature in the UK’s top ten trading partners. Trade analysts point to economic research that suggests geographical proximity is one of the most important factors in determining trade, meaning the EU is likely to remain Britain’s most natural trading partner.
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These critics point out that the economies of some of the largest Commonwealth countries, including India, are highly protected and that reducing their trade barriers will be more difficult than Brexit supporters have anticipated. The EU has so far failed to secure a free trade agreement with India, and the UK may not fare so well on its own.
Meanwhile, the group’s next summit is scheduled for June 2020 in Rwanda, the first in a country that has never been under British rule. Questions about how and to what extent to reform the Commonwealth of Nations’ operations and governance are likely to continue. The 2018 summit formally chose Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth, although there had previously been discussions about democratically electing Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne.
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The Commonwealth Of Nations
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