Beside of UN as a big power, other organ is the Commonwealth. The commonwealth is a voluntary association of Independent States which were formerly part of the British Empire. The member of commonwealth could be British protectorates, colonies or dominions.
Background of the commonwealth
The origin of the commonwealth can be traced from what used to be called the British Empire. The commonwealth was launched formerly but did not have a constitution. The important stage of the commonwealth attained by 1931 when the statute of Westminster came into existence. The statute could be considered as referral constitutional landmark whose contribution helped to shape the association.
The detail of this association was previously worked out in 1926 .In this year the imperial conference chaired by Lord Balfour by then the prime minister of Canada, prepared a report and incorporated it in statute known as the statute of Westminster in 1931. The statute stated that no act of British parliament could be the law of any dominion unless the dominions parliament agreed to pass it.
Also the statute defined the United Kingdom and the dominions of Canada, New Zealand and Australia as “autonomous” communities within the British Empire. All of these autonomous communities were equal in status and not subordinate to one another. These communities also could be allegiance to the crown. Many countries joined after independence through many think that the commonwealth is after British imperialist.
Principles of the commonwealth
The principles were given out by the declaration of Commonwealth at Singapore summit of 1972.The principles include:
1. They believe and accept that peace and order are essential to the security and success of mankind.
2. They believe in liberty of individuals and equal rights for all people.
3. Recognize discrimination as an evil in the member Countries.
4. Oppose all forms of colonial exploitation and discrimination in the member countries.
5. Attain free flow of international trade for all countries.
6. Promote the exchange of ideas, skills, knowledge, and culture, economic and legal matters.
Members of Commonwealth
Currently there 59 members of the commonwealth majority being ex-British colonies. Although there are ex-British Colonies which are non members of the commonwealth including United states of America, Egypt and Israel.
Others are non-ex British colonies which deliberately joined the commonwealth on their interest; these include Mozambique (ruled by Portuguese) .
These members shares similar culture such as
- use of English Language
- the common law system
- keeping left hand side when driving and
- the way of British system of administration.
The structure/ organs of commonwealth
The structure of the commonwealth comprises of the following.
The head of the Organization. The head of the Organization is the Queen / King of England who directs the activities of the Organization and invited to officiate the Commonwealth meeting and games.
It is based in London and headed by the secretary General. The organ deals with day to day activities of an Organization .It also organize meetings for the head of states and prime Minister of the member states.
The summit of the foreign affairs Ministers. Foreign affairs Minister from the member countries meets to discuss matters affecting their countries.
High Commissioners. They work as an ambassador to countries they are posted.
The role of the Commonwealth in maintaining world peace and understanding
Like the UN and European Union the Commonwealth plays a great role in maintaining world peace and understanding as follows:-
1. Coordinates the Commonwealth games which call upon all members of Common wealth to participate in that games commonwealth competition.
2. Provide humanitarian aid to the countries with catastrophes, these aid include food, finance, medicine and rescue team.
3. Impose sanctions to countries which abuses human rights, undemocratic countries and so forth.
4. Oppose all forms of colonial domination and racial discrimination and is committed to the principles of human dignity and equality.
5. Engagement in the process of reconciliation, arbitration and negotiation in several parts of the world .This has been done in several parts of the world to restore peace and order.
6. Provision of scholarship and international trade opportunities for the developing countries.
However, the commonwealth is inflicted with these problems shortage of fund, Ideological differences, civil wars, absence of an enforcement machinery and border disputes .This means the dreams of maintaining world peace and understanding is still unattainable.