Commonwealth of Nations

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The Commonwealth of Nations, usually known as the Commonwealth, is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, most of which are former British colonies, or dependencies of these colonies (the exceptions being the United Kingdom itself and Mozambique).

No single government in the Commonwealth, British or otherwise, exercises power over the others, as in a political union. Rather, the relationship is one of an international organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status, and co-operate within a framework of common values and goals, as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.[1] These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace,[2] and are carried out through multilateral projects and meetings, as well as the quadrennial Commonwealth Games. The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II, known for this purpose as Head of the Commonwealth. This position, however, does not imbue her with any political or executive power over any Commonwealth member states; the position is purely symbolic, and it is the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is the chief executive of the organization.

Elizabeth II is also the monarch, separately, of sixteen members of the Commonwealth, collectively called the Commonwealth realms. As each realm is an independent kingdom, Elizabeth II, as monarch, holds a distinct title for each, though, by a Prime Ministers' Conference in 1952, all include the style Head of the Commonwealth at the end; for example: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. Beyond the realms, the majority of the members of the Commonwealth have their own, separate heads of state: thirty-two members are republics, and five members have distinct monarchs: the Sultan of Brunei; the King of Lesotho; the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia; the King of Swaziland; and the King of Tonga.

See also


  1. FAQs. Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved on 2007-07-25.
  2. Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles 1971. Commonwealth Secretariat (22 January 1971). Retrieved on 2007-07-25.
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