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.
8 March 2010 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "In the Commonwealth, we place great emphasis on ensuring that progress embraces all. We build and maintain partnerships and networks, so that people can come together to learn from and share with each other, and profit from this collectively. It is well recognised that science and technology are integral to our future as a global community, and that future possibilities are beyond our present imagining. Science and Technology only fulfil their promise when they serve Society."
14 March 2011 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "Women are the barometers of society: they are an indication of its internal pressure levels, and their fortunes can be the clearest forecasts of good or bad things to come. Where women prosper, societies prosper; and where women suffer, so too do the societies in which they live. By investing in women and girls, we have seen that we can accelerate social, economic and political progress."
12 March 2012 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that " 'Connecting Cultures’ is about appreciating and celebrating these ways in which others live their lives and express themselves. And it is about much more than that too. It is about exploring how we can bring cultures together, how we can connect them in order to learn, to deepen the appreciation we have of one another. ‘Connecting Cultures’ encourages us to explore how we can use culture to build bridges of exchange and understanding."
11 March 2013 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "The Commonwealth is a unique enterprise. As a family of 54 independent nations, we unite around shared values and principles. We work together to open up new prospects for individuals and communities, and through national, regional, and international endeavour."
10 March 2014 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "the essence of a team is that – like the Commonwealth – its members know the advantage of working together and the strength of mutual support. The essence of a team also is that – like the Commonwealth – it has shared aspirations and a sense of common purpose, and relies on the range of contributions and different strengths of each of its members. The essence of a successful team – such as the Commonwealth – is that together it achieves more than the sum of its parts."
9 March 2015 In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma stated, "Our theme for this Commonwealth Day and the year ahead is ‘A Young Commonwealth’. This reminds us that youth, and progress through innovation are at the heart of the Commonwealth. New approaches and fresh thinking help us to realise our potential, and continually to replenish the collective wisdom that is our shared Commonwealth inheritance, and a rich resource adding global value."
12 March 2018 In her Commonwealth Day message for 2018 Secretary-General Patricia Scotland highlighted the work being done on developing the Commonwealth Blue Charter. “By agreeing to protect the health of oceans and marine life, and to use the precious resources they yield in responsible and sustainable ways, we will be sharing more fairly the benefits they bestow, and preserving these for future generations.”
Theme: Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience
Declarations and Statements
15 October 1965
Singapore becomes the 23rd country to join the Commonwealth.