The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary membership organization that counts 52 different equal and independent sovereign countries on its roster. Within these nations live 2.2 billion citizens. More than 60% of these residents are less than 30 years old.
Included in the Commonwealth are countries which are among the smallest and largest as well as poorest and richest in the world. The member nations hail from five different regions including Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia/Oceania. Fully thirty one of the members of this organization are smaller countries, a number of them being island states.
The Commonwealth of Nations’ history stretches back to the days of the British Empire. This makes it among the oldest political groups of countries in the entire world. The vast majority of nations in the club were once ruled indirectly or directly by Great Britain. Many of these states chose to become independent and self governing even when they kept the monarch of Britain as their Head of State.
They created the Commonwealth in 1949 as a successor organization to the empire. In the years since then, other nations from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific have also become members. The two most recent nations to join were Mozambique and Rwanda. Neither one had a historical connection to the British Empire.
Leaders of Commonwealth of Nations countries meet together every other year in order to discuss pressing issues of shared concern. Queen Elizabeth has attended all but one of the meetings since the organization began in 1949. The last meeting held in 2016 took place in Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The next meeting is scheduled to occur in the United Kingdom in 2018.
Today membership in the Commonwealth of Nations is a matter of equal and free cooperation which is voluntary. The nations making up the Commonwealth count on the support of over 80 intergovernmental, professional, cultural, and civil society organizations. They ascribe to a body of guiding principles which are found in the Commonwealth Charter. The group participates in a variety of projects to improve aspects of infrastructure, education, health, and all around society in its member states.
One of the important leadership institutions within the Commonwealth of Nations is the Commonwealth Secretariat. This office leads and guides the group with technical assistance, policy making, and advisory help to member states of the Commonwealth. It works to support governments in their quest to build development that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable. Its work strives to encourage rule of law, democracy, good government, human rights, and economic and social development. It gives a platform for small countries and helps to empower the youth. The most important work of the organization is laid out at the biannual Commonwealth Head of Government Meetings (CHOGM).
The vision of the Commonwealth of Nations is to work to form and sustain an organization that strives towards mutual peace, prosperity, resilience, and respect while cherishing diversity, equality, and shared values. The Commonwealth’s mission is to empower member state governments while it works with the overall Commonwealth nations and other countries in order to better the lives of every Commonwealth citizen and to help move forward their mutual interests around the world.