How relevant is the Commonwealth of Nations


The Commonwealth should be seen as a grouping of state which had a common past as they were all
ruled by the British crown. Most of the countries broke from the direct rule of Britain to become independent in the hope for a better day. But some got independent only to break in part like India which split into three states, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Others fall into internal conflicts paving the way for military dictatorship as it was the case in Nigeria. Many failed to become prosperous. The Commonwealth groups countries of more than 2 billion people,
making only second to the UN in terms of size. Very few still have close ties with UK. Only Australia, Canada and New Zealand are still the major countries still a part of the British monarchy, in addition to other territories, like the Falkland and Gibraltar, which seem to have no option but to remain British dominions as independence will make them vulnerable in a world where alliances are of paramount importance.

Maybe the Commonwealth has significance only for leaders as it gives them the opportunity to meet annually and to share views. But many are looking elsewhere. US superpower has drawn some to it like Pakistan, which has become one of the biggest allies of the US in Asia. Others have pull out like Zimbabwe. As economic ties between them aren’t as strong as they should be, although UK remain a big trading partner for some of them, there must be the sport events which have more popular appeal as they draw sportsmen from all the 53 countries, creating a period of excitement.

Perhaps the success story of the Commonwealth is that it includes many democratic countries like India the biggest democracy in the world and Nigeria the biggest democracy in Africa. It also stood up to countries like Zimbabwe which showed disregard to democratic rules as it suspended Pakistan membership for five years because of the military coup in 2002.

As it seems the economic divide is still apparent among these countries. Some are indulging in affluence while others are still considered among the poorest, especially those in Africa. The question that remains to ask is how to keep the Commonwealth relevant for countries who share the same colonial past under UK, but they are currently looking for ties outside its sphere. What economic and cultural ties should be effective to make them a motor for development for its poorest member countries to concretize the real meaning of Commonwealth?

Listen to the answer of Don McKinnon, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Nations to my question on BBC WHYS show:
What can the Commonwealth of Nations do to diffuse tension in troubled countries like Sri Lanka?


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