Modern Commonwealth celebrates 75 years 

26 April 2024
Press release
Commonwealth Leaders Event family photo

"When Commonwealth countries take collective decisions, it can move the whole world," - Commonwealth Secretary-General 

Today marks 75 years since the signing of the London Declaration - and the founding of the modern Commonwealth.  

Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said it was a testament to the Commonwealth’s resilience that it remains a flourishing multilateral institution, still relevant to its members.

“The Commonwealth’s growth and evolution has been remarkable. From a group of eight nations, brought together in the shadow of war to bring ‘a touch of healing’ to relationships which were changing, the Commonwealth today brings together 56 nations and 2.5 billion people. 

“We are a family, joined by common values, shared interests and common action; and the bonds of friendship and experience which have sustained us for 75 years are stronger than ever.

“The ingenuity and imagination of a third of the world’s population, and our extraordinary diversity, makes the Commonwealth more relevant and important than ever, as a vital resource for peace, values and collective action on the pressing issues of our time.” 

On 26 April 1949, Commonwealth leaders from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom met in London to discuss the constitutional issues arising from India’s wish to become a sovereign republic, while also remaining a member of the Commonwealth. They adopted the London Declaration which paved the way for the formation of the Modern Commonwealth. 

Leaders of eight countries who signed the London Declaration in 1949
In 1949, leaders of eight countries set down the terms of their voluntary association as “free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress.”

The Declaration marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of the Commonwealth by recognising equality among member states, regardless of their size, wealth or background.   

Secretary-General Scotland emphasised the significance of equal status for countries often under-represented in global forums.

“In October this year, leaders will gather in the small island nation of Samoa for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The meeting will shine a light on the issues facing countries such as Samoa and exemplify the mutual support that holds our diverse family together. When Commonwealth countries take collective decisions, it can move the whole world,” she said. 

The Commonwealth’s work flows from the mandates of Heads of Government and is rooted in the shared values of peace and justice, tolerance, respect, and solidarity. 

Building on their mandate, the Secretary-General said the Commonwealth’s programme of action, support and assistance is more comprehensive today than ever before, highlighting a wide array of initiatives ranging from: 

The Commonwealth at 75


Media contact

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