The Commonwealth and Malaysia

Topics: Commonwealth of Nations, British Empire, Head of the Commonwealth Pages: 11 (3213 words) Published: March 12, 2012
The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of independent sovereign states, most of which were once governed by the United Kingdom and are its former colonies. It was formerly known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth is an organisation where countries with diverse economic backgrounds have an opportunity for close and equal interaction. The primary activities of the Commonwealth are to create an atmosphere of economic cooperation between member nations, as well as the promotion of democracy and good governance in them. There are two terms that a country must fulfil for the country to become a part of the Commonwealth. The first term is that the country must have already achieved its independence. The second term is that the country has been part of Britain or a part of its colony. If any country fulfils these two requirements they can automatically be a part of the Commonwealth ( 2011). The main objective of Commonwealth is to provide facilities and benefit to member countries and to have diplomatic relations between members and non member countries

Origins of Commonwealth
The idea of the Commonwealth took root in the 19th century. In 1867 Canada became the first colony to be transformed into self -governing ‘Dominion’ and others followed. In 1884, the politician Lord Rosebery became the first to call this changing British Empire as the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’. In 1931, the United Kingdom parliament adopted the statue of Westminster, forming the legal foundation of what was to become of the Commonwealth. Under the Statute, the Dominions of Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Irish Free State became autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations (Commonwealth Secretariat 2011) In 1930 the first Empire Games later to be known as the Commonwealth Games was held for the first time. Modern Commonwealth

The modern Commonwealth that we recognize it today really began with the independence of India and Pakistan from Britain in 1947. In 1949, India’s desire to become a republic and to cut constitutional ties with the British monarchy while remaining within the Commonwealth, forced leaders to rethink the principals of the Commonwealth membership. The London Declaration of the same year dropped the word ‘British’ from the association’s title. Removing the requirement that member countries have the British monarch as their Head of State, the same declaration recognised King George IV as the symbol of their free association and as such the Head of the Commonwealth. India was thus welcomed as the first republican member in a modern and voluntary association. Committed to racial equality and national sovereignty, the Commonwealth became the natural association of choice of many new nations emerging out of decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s. From this point on the Commonwealth expanded rapidly with new members from Africa, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. (The Commonwealth Conversation 2011)

Commonwealth Countries
-Antigua and Barbuda
-Australian Antarctic Territory
-British Antarctic Territory
-British Indian Ocean Territory
-British Virgin Islands
-Cayman Islands
-Channel Islands
-Cook Islands
-New Zealand
-Norfolk Island
-Papua New Guinea
-Pitcairn Islands
-Ross Dependency
-Sierra Leone
-Solomon Islands
-South Africa
-Sri Lanka
-St Christopher-Nevis
-St Helena
-St Lucia
-St Vincent and the Grenadines
-Trinidad and Tobago -Falkland Islands -Falkland Islands Dependencies
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