Lord Rosebury (later British Prime Minister) calls the Empire a 'Commonwealth of Nations' whilst visiting Australia.
The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire, when countries around the world were ruled by Britain.
The early Commonwealth
Over time different countries of the British Empire gained different levels of freedom from Britain. Semi-independent countries were called Dominions. Leaders of the Dominions attended conferences with Britain from 1887.
The 1926 Imperial Conference was attended by the leaders of Australia, Canada, India, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa.
At the 1926 conference Britain and the Dominions agreed that they were all equal members of a community within the British Empire. They all owed allegiance to the British king or queen, but the United Kingdom did not rule over them. This community was called the British Commonwealth of Nations or just the Commonwealth.
Birth of the modern Commonwealth
The Dominions and other territories of the British Empire gradually became fully independent of the United Kingdom.
India became independent in 1947. India wanted to become a republic which didn't owe allegiance to the British king or queen, but it also wanted to stay a member of the Commonwealth.
At a Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1949, the London Declaration said that republics and other countries could be part of the Commonwealth. The modern Commonwealth of Nations was born.
King George VI was the first Head of the Commonwealth, and Queen Elizabeth II became Head when he died. But the British king or queen is not automatically Head of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth member countries choose who becomes Head of the Commonwealth.
The modern Commonwealth
Since 1949 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 2 countries to join the Commonwealth - Rwanda and Mozambique - have no historical ties to the British Empire.
The Commonwealth Secretariat was created in 1965 as a central intergovernmental organisation to manage the Commonwealth's work.
Empire described as a 'Commonwealth of Nations'
First Colonial Conference
First Colonial Conference for consultation between Britain and its colonies.
Prime Ministers meetings
The British Prime Minister and leaders of the Dominions met to discuss constitutional issues, foreign affairs, defence and trade.
The UK and its dominions agree they are "equal in status"
First Commonwealth Games
First British Empire Games, later to become the Commonwealth Games, held in Hamilton, Canada.
Statute of Westminster
Statute of Westminster gives legal status to the independence of Australia, Canada, Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa join the Commonwealth
Having become self-governing states under the Statute of Westminster, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa join the United Kingdom as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Pakistan joins the Commonwealth
15 August 1947 Pakistan becomes the 7th country to join the Commonwealth.
India joins the Commonwealth
Sri Lanka joins the Commonwealth
4 February 1948 Sri Lanka becomes the 8th country to join the Commonwealth.
Beginning of the modern Commonwealth
Leaders agree that Commonwealth members are “free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress”
First meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers
London, United Kingdom, 21 July 1949. Ministers reviewed the economic position of the sterling area, in light of the recent fall in the level of gold and dollar reserves.
HM Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation
Prime Ministers and leading citizens from The Commonwealth attend the coronation at Westminster Abbey in London.
Ghana joins the Commonwealth
6 March 1957 Ghana becomes the 9th country to join the Commonwealth.
Malaysia joins the Commonwealth
31 August 1957 Malaysia becomes the 10th country to join the Commonwealth.
First Commonwealth Education Conference
15 - 28 July 1959, Oxford, United Kingdom. The meeting of Education ministers was convened in recognition of " the great importance of education and training as an indispensable condition of development. It is an objective of Commonwealth countries that their people should be able to share as widely as possible in the advantages of education of all kinds and at all levels".
Marlborough House becomes Commonwealth centre
Nigeria joins the Commonwealth
1 October 1960 Nigeria becomes the 11th country to join the Commonwealth.
South Africa withdraws from The Commonwealth
South Africa withdraws from The Commonwealth, after pressure from member states against its apartheid policies
Republic of Cyprus joins the Commonwealth
Sierra Leone joins the Commonwealth
Tanzania joins the Commonwealth
9 December 1961 United Republic of Tanzania becomes the 14th country to join the Commonwealth.
Jamaica joins the Commonwealth
Trinidad and Tobago joins the Commonwealth
Uganda joins the Commonwealth
Kenya joins the Commonwealth
Malawi joins the Commonwealth
Malta joins the Commonwealth
Zambia joins the Commonwealth
Arnold Smith becomes the first Commonwealth Secretary-General
The Gambia joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Secretariat is established
Housed in Marlborough House in London, UK, the Commonwealth Secretariat was set up to be at the service of all Commonwealth Governments and as a visible symbol of the spirit of co-operation which animates the Commonwealth.
First Commonwealth Medical Conference
4 - 13 October 1965, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Ministers concluded that "adequate medical services are an essential foundation of social and economic progress in developing countries. The Conference therefore took as its purpose a thorough review of the existing co-operation between Commonwealth countries in the fields of medicine and health and an examination of how this co-operation can be strengthened and extended."
Singapore joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Foundation is established
Housed in Marlborough House in London, UK, the Commonwealth Foundation was set up to administer the interchanges between Commonwealth organisations in professional fields throughout the Commonwealth.
First Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting
26 April - 3 May 1966, London, United Kingdom. The meeting reviewed arrangements for the extradition of fugitive offenders within the Commonwealth and recommended the creation of a Legal Section within the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Guyana joins the Commonwealth
First meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers
13 - 16 June 1966, London, United Kingdom. "It was agreed that Commonwealth countries should act in concert wherever possible in wider international organisations concerned with international trade and trade policy."
Botswana joins the Commonwealth
Lesotho joins the Commonwealth
Barbados joins the Commonwealth
Mauritius joins the Commonwealth
Swaziland joins the Commonwealth
6 September 1968 Swaziland becomes the 29th country to join the Commonwealth.
Nauru joins the Commonwealth
Tonga joins the Commonwealth
Samoa joins the Commonwealth
Fiji joins the Commonwealth
10 October 1970 Fiji becomes the 33rd country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) set up
The Fund puts the skills of Commonwealth member countries at each other's disposal.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Singapore, Singapore
14 – 22 January 1971 First meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM).
Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles
Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth
Bangladesh joins The Commonwealth
18 April 1972 Bangladesh becomes the 34th country to join the Commonwealth.
First Commonwealth Senior Officials Meeting
16 - 19 October 1972, Ottawa, Canada. The meeting considered comparative techniques of government across the Commonwealth and tasked the Secretariat with establishing procedures for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings which would ensure 'flexibility, informality and the opportunity to engage in frank discussion of common problems, even from opposing standpoints.'
Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) fund established
First meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers
29 January 1973, Lusaka, Zambia. Ministers met to consider the creation of a Commonwealth Youth Programme.
The Bahamas joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Ottawa, Canada
2 – 10 August 1973 The second meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. The summit issued a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water.
Grenada joins the Commonwealth
7 February 1974 Grenada becomes the 36th country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kingston, Jamaica
29 April –6 May 1975
Sir Shridath Ramphal becomes second Commonwealth Secretary-General
Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal QC of Guyana served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1975 to 1990.
Papua New Guinea joins the Commonwealth
Seychelles joins the Commonwealth
28 Jun 1976 Seychelles becomes the 38th country to join the Commonwealth.
First simultaneously observed Commonwealth Day
Canada proposed that a “simultaneously observed Commonwealth Day would focus attention upon the association and its contribution to a harmonious global environment”.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, London, UK
8 –15 June 1977
Gleneagles Agreement starts apartheid South Africa's sporting isolation
Solomon Islands joins the Commonwealth
7 July 1978 Solomon Islands becomes the 39th country to join the Commonwealth.
Tuvalu joins the Commonwealth
1 October 1978 Tuvalu becomes the 40th country to join the Commonwealth.
Dominica joins the Commonwealth
St Lucia joins the Commonwealth
Kiribati joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Lusaka, Zambia
1 – 7 August 1979
Lusaka Declaration on Racism and Racial Prejudice
St Vincent and The Grenadines joins the Commonwealth
First election observation by Commonwealth
Zimbabwe joins the Commonwealth
18 April 1980 Zimbabwe becomes the 45th country to join the Commonwealth.
Vanuatu joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth establishes 'Small States Office' in New York
Commonwealth sets up a 'Small States Office' in New York, so that small states can take part in UN negotiations.
Belize joins the Commonwealth
21 September 1981 Belize becomes the 47th country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Melbourne, Australia
30 September – 7 October 1981
Antigua and Barbuda join the Commonwealth
First Commonwealth Employment / Labour Ministers Meeting
1 June 1982, Geneva, Switzerland. Meeting in Geneva in the wings of the International Labour Conference ministers discussed the effect of the world recession on employment, particularly its impact on young people and women who were disproportionately affected.
Maldives joins the Commonwealth
St Kitts and Nevis joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Action Group on Cyprus
Commonwealth Action Group on Cyprus set up to assist UN Security Council efforts to resolve hostilities in Cyprus.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, New Delhi, India
23-29 November 1983
Brunei Darussalam joins the Commonwealth
First Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting
13 July 1985, Nairobi, Kenya. Ministers considered means to empower national machineries and the bodies responsible for ensuring government policies and programmes addressed the needs of women.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Nassau, Bahamas
16-22 October 1985
Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group visits Nelson Mandela
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Mini Summit, London
3-5 August, 1986 The leaders of seven Commonwealth member countries gathered to consider the report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, Mission to South Africa. They concluded that there had not been adequate progress and agreed a programme of economic sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Vancouver, Canada
13-17 October 1987
Fiji's membership of The Commonwealth lapses
Fiji's membership of the Commonwealth lapses after it declares itself a republic following a military coup.
Commonwealth of Learning established
Pakistan rejoins the Commonwealth
Pakistan rejoins the Commonwealth after an absence of 17 years.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
18-24 October 1989
Emeka Anyaoku becomes the third Commonwealth Secretary-General
Namibia joins the Commonwealth
21 March 1990
Namibia becomes the 52nd country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Harare, Zimbabwe
16 - 21 October 1991
Harare Commonwealth Declaration
Regular meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers begin
Male, Maldives, 10 -12 May 1992. The discussions explored ways in which Ministries of Youth could be strengthened and the effectiveness of youth literacy and community service schemes improved.
First Commonwealth Consultative Group of the Environment meeting
New York, Unites States of America, 22 June 1993. The Secretary-General convened the meeting of Environmental officials at Ministerial level to strengthen Commonwealth dialogue and cooperation on sustainable development.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Limassol, Cyprus
21-25 October 1993
The Victoria Falls Declaration
The Victoria Falls Declaration of Principles for the Promotion of the Human Rights of Women.
South Africa rejoins the Commonwealth
South Africa rejoins The Commonwealth following the end of apartheid. “The Commonwealth was proud to have been so closely associated with the cause of ending apartheid, for which Nelson Mandela sacrificed so many years of his life in prison," - Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma in a speech that marked the 20 year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from incarceration.
Cameroon joins the Commonwealth
1 November 1995. Cameroon becomes the 53rd country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Auckland, New Zealand
10-13 November 1995
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) established
Nigeria suspended from the Commonwealth
Millbrook Commonwealth Action Plan on the Harare Declaration
12 November 1995. Heads of Government issued the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Plan on the Harare Declaration in New Zealand.
Mozambique joins the Commonwealth
13 November 1995. Mozambique becomes the 54th country to join the Commonwealth.
Fiji rejoins the Commonwealth
"The Commonwealth responded warmly to the wish of the people of Fiji that their country resume its membership of the Commonwealth now that a new constitution has been approved which enjoys national consensus and which conforms with the Commonwealth's Harare principles." - Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Edinburgh, UK
24-27 October, 1997
New criteria for Commonwealth membership
At their Edinburgh meeting Heads of Government received and endorsed a report from the Intergovernmental Group on Criteria for Commonwealth Membership.
Chair-in-Office position created
Created at the 1999 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in South Africa, the Chairperson-in-Office plays a representational role in intergovernmental organisations, during periods between Heads of Government meetings. In 2002, the role was extended to include Good Offices of the Secretary-General.
Commonwealth celebrates 50 years
26 April 1999 marked the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of London where leaders agreed that Commonwealth members are “free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress”.
Nigeria's suspension from the Commonwealth lifted
"The Commonwealth rejoices with the Nigerian people as they enter this new era. This fresh start is a victory for democracy, a victory for Nigeria - and a victory for a fundamental principle of the Commonwealth." - Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
Pakistan suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth
CMAG unanimously condemn the unconstitutional overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Pakistan as a serious violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political principles.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Durban, South Africa
11-20 November, 1999. Theme: Globalisation & People-Centred Development
Don McKinnon becomes fourth Commonwealth Secretary-General
Sir Don McKinnon of New Zealand served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 2000 to 2008.
Fiji suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth 1
Following the overthrow of the elected government, Fiji Islands suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law.
Fiji suspension lifted
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon warmly welcomed the completion of the parliamentary elections held in Fiji Islands from 25 August to 5 September 2001.
Zimbabwe suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth
Zimbabwe is suspended from Commonwealth councils following the presidential election, which was marred by a high level of politically motivated violence and during which the conditions did not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the electors.
Commonwealth Chairpersons' Committee on Zimbabwe set up
Commonwealth Chairpersons' Committee on Zimbabwe set up by CHOGM "to determine appropriate Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe" after a highly adverse report on the Presidential elections by Commonwealth observers.
First Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting
24 July 2002, Manchester, United Kingdom. Government ministers responsible for sport in the Commonwealth met on 24 July 2002 in Manchester on the eve of the XVIIth Commonwealth Games. Participants affirmed their commitment to the development of sport and sporting co-operation in three key areas: Anti-doping, social cohesion and women in sport.
First Commonwealth Foreign Ministers Meeting
14 September 2002, New York, United States of America. Secretary-General Don McKinnon stated that "with more than half of the Commonwealth's membership made up of small states, there was concern among foreign ministers about the increasing vulnerabilities of these countries and their ability to compete in the globalised world."
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Coolum, Australia
6-9 October, 2002. Theme: The Commonwealth in the 21st Century: Continuity & Renewal
Zimbabwe withdraws from the Commonwealth
Following the CHOGM Statement on Zimbabwe, the Government of Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Abuja, Nigeria
5-8 December, 2003. Theme: Development & Democracy: Partnership for Peace & Prosperity
Latimer House Principles
The Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles govern issues such as the harmonious balancing of power and the interaction between parliament, the executive and the judiciary in democratic societies. They set out in detail the consensus arrived at by representatives of the three branches of government in the Commonwealth on how each of their national institutions should interrelate in the exercise of their institutional responsibility.
Pakistan suspension lifted
Pakistan's suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth in 1999 is lifted.
Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation
"Genuine democratic elections are an expression of sovereignty, which belongs to the people of a country, the free expression of whose will provides the basis for the authority and legitimacy of government."
Declaration on International Humanitarian Law
21 July 2005. Declaration of the Nairobi Meeting of Commonwealth National Committees on International Humanitarian Law.
Revised Agreed Memorandum
The Revised Agreed Memorandum on the establishment and functions of the Commonwealth Secretariat was first published at the conclusion of the 1965 meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. Later amended by member governments following the 2002 meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Australia, it was most recently revised following the enactment of the International Organisations Bill in the United Kingdom.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Valletta, Malta
25-27 November, 2005. Theme: Networking the Commonwealth for Development
Fiji suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth
Fiji Islands suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law after the military takeover of Fiji's democratically elected government.
Commonwealth Ministers' Forum on Public Sector Development
26 - 27 October 2006, Sydney, Australia. The aim of the Forum was to advance public sector development in the Commonwealth, modernise governance for integrated service delivery, renew human resources for leadership development and bridge the digital divide for networked government.
'Civil Paths to Peace' launched
‘Civil Paths to Peace’ is the result of a mandate from Commonwealth leaders to look into the causes of conflict, violence and extremism in Commonwealth countries.
Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth
Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth, following a decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), 22 November 2007 in Kampala, Uganda. The decision follows CMAG’s statement of 12 November to suspend Pakistan if it failed to fulfil its obligations in accordance with Commonwealth principles.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kampala, Uganda
23-25 November 2007. Theme: Transforming Societies to Achieve Political, Economic and Human Development
Criteria for Commonwealth membership revised
Heads of Government reviewed the recommendations of the Committee on Commonwealth Membership from 1997 and agreed on core criteria for Membership.
Commonwealth Day - Our Environment, Our Future.
10 March 2008. Secretary-General Don McKinnon said that "A far-reaching Commonwealth report in the 1980s led to the 1989 Langkawi Declaration on the environment, in which our Heads of Government said that ‘any delay in taking action to halt this progressive deterioration will result in permanent and irreversible damage’.
Kamalesh Sharma becomes fifth Commonwealth Secretary-General
1 April 2008. Kamalesh Sharma of India becomes the fifth Commonwealth Secretary-General.
Pakistan's suspension from councils of the Commonwealth lifted
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which addresses serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s values and principles, said on 12 May 2008 that it had lifted Pakistan’s suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth with immediate effect.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Mini Summit
Heads met in London from 9-10 June 2008, and then again In New York on 24 September 2008. They aimed to "identify underlying principles and the actions that should be taken, as a global priority, to achieve reform of international institutions and lead to new institutions where necessary."
Commonwealth Heads of Government establish the Eminent Persons Group
The Eminent Persons Group was established by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their summit in November 2009. The group’s goals are to sharpen the impact, strengthen the networks, and raise the profile of the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Day - Commonwealth at 60
9 March 2009. 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 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."
Commonwealth celebrates 60th anniversary
Fiji suspended from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
27 - 29 November 2009. Theme: Partnering for a more Equitable and Sustainable Future
Rwanda joins the Commonwealth
29 November 2009. Rwanda becomes the 55th country to join the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Day - Science, Technology and Society
8 March 2010. Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "In the Commonwealth, we place great emphasis on ensuring that progress embraces all. 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."
Commonwealth Day - Women as Agents of Change
14 March 2011. 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."
Commonwealth sets up a 'Small States Office' in Geneva
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Perth, Australia
28 - 30 October 2011. Theme: Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience
Commonwealth Day - Connecting Cultures
12 March 2012. Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "'Connecting Cultures’ is about appreciating and celebrating these ways in which others live their lives and express themselves. 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."
Commonwealth Charter, signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Charter expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth. The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Day - Opportunity Through Enterprise
11 March 2013. Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "The Commonwealth is a unique enterprise. We work together to open up new prospects for individuals and communities, and through national, regional, and international endeavour."
The Gambia withdraws from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Colombo, Sri Lanka
15 - 17 November 2013. Theme: Growth with Equity; Inclusive Development
Commonwealth Day - Team Commonwealth
10 March 2014. 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 successful team – such as the Commonwealth – is that together it achieves more than the sum of its parts."
Fiji's suspension from membership of the Commonwealth lifted
Fiji was reinstated as a full member of the Commonwealth following a decision by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at their 44th meeting in New York.
Commonwealth Day - A Young Commonwealth
9 March 2015. Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma stated, "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."
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Malta
27-29 November 2015. Theme: Adding Global Value
Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform established
The Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR) supports Commonwealth countries in delivering access to justice and sustainable development through the creation of fair and effective national laws.
Commonwealth Day - An Inclusive Commonwealth
14 March 2016. In his Commonwealth Day message Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that "taking strength from its diversity, the Commonwealth succeeds in creating common ground on which to stand together in answering the challenges of our times."
Patricia Scotland becomes sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General
In a breakthrough for gender equality in the Commonwealth, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC of Dominica was selected new Secretary-General - the first woman to hold the post.
Commonwealth Hub launched
Launched by Her Majesty The Queen the Commonwealth Hub brings Commonwealth organisations together in the same location to create a collaborative, dynamic and innovative way of working.
Maldives withdraws from the Commonwealth
Countering violent extremism unit established
In line with the mandate given by leaders at their Malta summit, a dedicated unit was established within the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2017 to support national strategies to counter violent extremism (CVE).
Commonwealth Day - A Peace-building Commonwealth
13 March 2017. "Deep-rooted and resilient, Commonwealth solidarity bears us up individually and collectively. It helps us in troubled and troubling times to make the world a safer place." - Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
The Gambia rejoins the Commonwealth
8 February 2018. The Gambia today rejoined the Commonwealth, almost five years after leaving the organisation. The West Africa nation’s return was marked by a flag-raising ceremony at Marlborough House, the London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Commonwealth Day - Towards a Common Future
12 March 2018. Secretary-General Patricia Scotland stated, “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.”
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, London
16-20 April 2018. Theme: Towards a Common Future
Commonwealth Day - A Connected Commonwealth
11 March 2019. The Secretary-General Patricia Scotland recalled how “From its earliest beginnings, and through successive stages of expansion and development, the Commonwealth has been a pioneer of invention and innovation, with diversity and inclusiveness as watchwords.”
Commonwealth at 70
The modern Commonwealth came into being 70 years ago with the London Declaration, signed on 26 April, 1949. Across the Commonwealth, organisations are celebrating the 70th Anniversary with a series of events, conferences, competitions and workshops throughout the next year.
Maldives re-joins the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We are delighted to welcome the country and its people back to the Commonwealth. The reform process underway in Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path.”
Commonwealth Day - Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming
The theme for the 2020 Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and for the work of the Commonwealth more generally is 'Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming'.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kigali, Rwanda
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 will take place during the week of 20 June 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.
CHOGM was due to take place in June 2020 but was postponed twice due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more at TheCommonwealth.org/CHOGM