This week with Brexit high on the agenda, as I type we are awaiting the latest from Mrs May or more specifically Geoffrey Cox, it is odd that one group of nations should catch my eye. The Commonwealth. A group of some 54 nations all accepting HM The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth but not sovereign over their nation states it is unusual in this day and age that a group of countries clearly have a bond but not political machinations. The formation of the Commonwealth of Nations is dated back to the Statute of Westminster, an Act of the British Parliament passed on 11 December 1931.
Gibraltar our little peninsula home is an “associate” member of the commonwealth by dint of us being part of the United Kingdom. However not being a sovereign state under the guidelines we are not in essence a full member…. yet. Two other countries are linked in a similar way Mozambique and Rwanda have never had historical links with the UK but have a link with other member states so the rules were changed to allow this to happen.
I remember the furore when the UK joined the EU in the mid 70’s especially from Commonwealth nations that suffered as a consequence especially in terms of trading.
This wasn’t the only benefit to being a member:
- Employment opportunity. Many qualified citizens of member countries have found employment with the Commonwealth of Nations after scaling through the required qualification process. This has put food on their tables and some of the monies earned have been repatriated to their countries of origin.
- Promotes education. Some member states have consistently offered scholarships to citizens of other members states to pursue courses in higher learning. Some of these countries include Canada, Britain, Australia and now India. Citizens of member countries have benefited greatly from these gestures. This has helped citizens of the Commonwealth to horn their skills in various field of learning.
- Promotion of Democracy. The Commonwealth of Nations has been consistent in sending election observer teams to member states to monitor their elections. This, among other things, is to ensure free and fair elections thereby promoting democracy in member countries. The Commonwealth also gives financial support to the Electoral Commission of member countries to conduct credible elections.
- Military Assistance. The wealthy member states of the Commonwealth sometimes provide military hardware to the less developed member states to boost the equipment level of the armies of those countries. They also help in the training and re-training of officers and men from other member states. Officers of member states have attended some of the best military training institutions in Britain and Canada.
- Assistance to war-torn member countriesMember state of the Commonwealth of Nations also benefit from assistance given in reconstruction after war has ravaged the state. After the civil war in Sierra Leone, most of their infrastructures were destroyed. The Commonwealth has been assisting Sierra Leone to rebuild her damaged infrastructure.
Finally the benefit everyone knows. That of the Commonwealth Games, staged every four years which gives many smaller nations the chance to build their experience and achieve the dream using it as a springboard to the world stage in their sport toward Olympic and World glory.
Now what was that about Brexit?