Thursday, 6 March 2014

Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations History

Commonwealth of Nations 

  An association of independent countries and their dependencies linked by a common acknowledgement of the British monarch as head of Commonwealth.
The term ''Commonwealth of nations in 1949. The designation British Empire was generally used from the 1600's to the early 1900's but gradually yielded to the less imperialistic sounding British Commonwealth of nations after world war I.
The number if independent nations holding membership in the Commonwealth has increased significantly particularly since world war II and most especially during the 1960's and 1970's alone 14 independent nations became members many of them small Caribbean of Pacific islands. All of them acknowledge the British monarch as head of the Commonwealth although some of them do not have allegiance to the British crown.
The name ''Commonwealth of Nations'' is often limited to these independent states but technically it denotes all of their dependent as well. The united Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the cornerstone of the Commonwealth and the British monarch is the symbol of its unity. But the Commonwealth nations are not obligated to follow Britain's lead in any act of war or peace. Each is the sole judge of the nature of its association with the other members.
The Commonwealth has no formal or written constitution. Its members are bound together by common ideals and interests that have their source in a shared historical background and political heritage. Member nations may consult one another on common problems and exchange view and information.
Area and Population
The Commonwealth has a total of about 11 million square miles (28 million sq km), roughly one fifth of the land surface of the earth. Its total population in the early 1980's was about 1,151,000,000, approximately one fourth of the human race. The peoples of the Commonwealth belong to all the major races of mankind, profess many religions and speak hundreds of different languages and dialects. Culturally they range from distinguished graduates of the world's greatest universities to primitive jungle aborigines. The peoples of the Commonwealth live on every continent and on islands in every ocean and experience every variety of climate from Arctic cold to equatorial heat. Their economic pursuits range from modern forms of industry and high finance to nomadic hunting and fishing. Their standards of living range from those of the highly industrialized welfare state to those of the village in the African bush.
The Sovereign States Government
The following independent Commonwealth countries give allegiance to the British monarch. Antigua and Barbed, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Mauritius, new Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom, Except in the United Kingdom the crown is represented by a governor general who occupies fundamentally the same position as the monarch in Britain. In some instances as in Canada the governor general is a national of the dominion.
The Commonwealth also includes among its sovereign states these republics. Bangladesh, Botswana, Cyprus, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It also includes these monarchies. Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga. These countries do not give allegiance to the British crown but acknowledge it as the symbol of the free association of the member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations and as such head of the Commonwealth.
Canada and Australia are federal states some what similar in this respect to the United States, New Zealand, like Britain, is a unitary state. Of the nations that achieved independence within the Commonwealth after World War II, India, Malaysia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda adopted the federal system.
Most Commonwealth nations have parliamentary governments patterned after Britain's. The laws of these nations are made by a freely elected parliament after full and public debate. The executive holds office by virtue of the support of a majority in parliament. If he loses the confidence of that majority the executive must either resign his office or appeal to the people in a general election. In accordance with the British system of cabinet government mistress are collectively responsible for the actions of the government.
With several exceptions the Commonwealth parliaments are two chamber bodies. The lower house is usually elected by secret ballot. For the upper house the method of selection varies. For example members of the Canadian Senate are appointed for life nominally by the governor general but actually by the prime minister. Members of the Australian Senate are elected for a 6 year term by universal adult suffrage each of the six states returning an equal number of senators. With the exception of money bills which must originate in the lower house, legislation may be initiated in either chamber. But in practice the lower house has much greater legislative authority and it alone can decide the fate of the government.
The rule of law prevails in most Commonwealth nations. Citizens have the right to a fair trial in an open court by an independent judge and an impartial jury and the writ of habeas corpus is upheld. In the republics judges are appointed by the president. In Malaysia, judge are appointed by he head of state on the recommendation of a judicial and legal service commission. In the sovereign states of the Commonwealth that owe allegiance to the crown, judges are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the government concerned, except Britain where they are appointed by the crown on the advice of the prime minister.
Dependencies are Commonwealth areas that do not have complete self government. They are administered by independent Commonwealth members. Most dependencies are developing toward self government.
A majority of the dependencies are areas the have been annexed to the British Crown. This means that persons living in them are British citizens. These dependencies were formerly called colonies or crown colonies. A governor appointed by the British governments the highest official in each such dependency. The governor holds all political power in some dependencies. Others have elected assemblies and in them the governor's power is limited. Some of the dependencies have become practically self governing. Most of these areas are ruled as though they were parts of Britain.
The term dependency may also refer to other kinds of political units. These political units include crown dependencies joint administrations self governing areas and territories.
Crown dependencies are self governing territories annexed by the British Crown. They are not bound by acts of the British Parliament unless the crown dependencies are named.
Joint administrations are controlled by two nations that have interests there. Each of the two nations has responsibility for its own property and personnel in the area.
Self governing areas control their own internal affairs. They have agreed to let a Commonwealth nations handle heir defense and foreign relations. However self governing areas have the right to declare full independence at any time.
Territories are dependencies of Australia or New Zealand. Each territory has an administrator chosen by the government of Australia or New Zealand. In some territories this official holds all political power. In other territories the administrator shares power with an elected assembly. Some territories have become nearly self governing. Australia and New Zealand control defense and foreign policy for their territories.
Intra Commonwealth Relations
Each Commonwealth nation is an independent state, exercising sovereignty both internal and external in the fullest sense of the term. Each decides its own form of government and its own domestic foreign policies. Each is free to secede from the Commonwealth at any time as did Burma becoming independent in 1947the Republic Ireland in 1949. South Africa in 1961 and Pakistan in 1972.
The independent status of the member nations was defined in the report of the Balfour Committee at the Imperial Conference of 1926. issued at a time when the term ''British Empire was still in use and when the major component of the empire were termed dominions, the report has been called the foundation stone of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. Its key passage asserts that the dominions are autonomous Communities within the British Empire equal status in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Every semi governing member of the Empire is now maser of its destiny. In fact if not always inform, it is subject to no compulsion whatever. The British Empire is not founded upon nations. It depends essentially if not formally a positive ideals. Free institutions are its life blood free cooperation is its instrument.
This definition of equal and independent status was enacted into law in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster often spoken of as the ''Magna Carat of the Commonwealth.''
The attainment of equal and independent status illustrates the Commonwealth's capacity for change because all of Britain's present Commonwealth partners were once her colonies or dependencies. The Commonwealth is in a continuing process of constitutional evolution, as evolution characterized not only by the growth of its members to independent nationhood but also by the great diversity of their forms of government unitary an federal monarchical and republican. So flexible is the structure of the Commonwealth that it could accommodate such an anomaly as the temporary suspension of parliamentary government by a benevolent military dictatorship in Pakistan during the late 1950's and early 1960's. It could also countenance the union of a Commonwealth nation with a non Commonwealth country as exemplified by the loose and short lived federation of Ghana and Guinea a former dependency of France formed in 1958.

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