Home >About us >Our history

Our history

The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political association of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1949 the association we know today, the Commonwealth came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth.

Membership today is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation. The last two countries to join the Commonwealth - Rwanda and Mozambique - have no historical ties to the British Empire.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Vancouver, Canada. 13-17 October 1987 Image of Heads of Government at CHOGM in Vancouver, Canada, 1987

13 October 1987

Declarations and Statements

  • The Vancouver Declaration on World Trade
  • The Okanagan Statement and Programme of Action on Southern Africa
  • Statement on Fiji
  • Vancouver Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Nassau, Bahamas. 16-22 October 1985 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Nassau, The Bahamas, 1985

16 October 1985

Declarations and Statements

  • The Nassau Declaration on World Order
  • The Commonwealth Accord on Southern Africa
  • Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, New Delhi, India. 23-29 November 1983 Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in New Delhi, India, 1983

23 November 1983

Declarations and Statements

  • The Goa Declaration on International Security
  • The New Delhi Statement on Economic Action
  • Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Lusaka, Zambia. 1 – 7 August 1979 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Lusaka, Zambia, 1979

1 August 1979

Declarations and Statements

  • Lusaka Communiqué
  • Lusaka Declaration of the Commonwealth on Racism and Prejudice

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, London, United Kingdom. 8 –15 June 1977 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in London, UK, 1977

8 June 1977

Declarations and Statements

  • Communiqué
  • Gleneagles Agreement: Commonwealth Statement on Apartheid in Sport

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Ottawa, Canada. 2 – 10 August 1973 Image of Heads of Government at CHOGM in Ottawa, Canada, 1973

2 August 1973

Declarations and Statements

  • Ottawa Communique
  • Statement by the Commonwealth Heads of Government on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water.

Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles 1971 written in white on a blue background

22 January 1971

Commonwealth Heads of Government issued the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles at their summit in Singapore in 1971

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Singapore, Singapore. 14 – 22 January 1971 Opening ceremony of the 1971 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Singapore

14 January 1971

First meeting of the Commonweatlh Heads of Government (CHOGM).

Declarations and Statements

Pages