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Commonwealth of Nations, Member Countries, Head, Structure

Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations is a grouping of 54 independent sovereign nations, the majority of which were once British colonies. The Commonwealth continues to be led by the British Monarch. The organisation was founded in 1931 with the signing of the Statute of Westminster, which awarded Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland independence. The Commonwealth has since expanded to include countries from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific.

The International Relations section of the General Studies Paper-2 in the UPSC Syllabus places a lot of emphasis on international organisations and groupings. The section of international relations is quite dynamic and is important for many of the papers in the Prelims and Mains. The subject must be thoroughly read by aspirants preparing for  UPSC 2023 and other Government Examinations.

Commonwealth of Nations Head

The title “Head of the Commonwealth” refers to the symbolic position of leader of the Commonwealth of Nations. There is no established tenure for this job, nor is it inherited. The Commonwealth’s member nations choose the Head of the Commonwealth, who represents the organisation symbolically.

Charles III of the United Kingdom is the Commonwealth’s current head of state. To make the selection of the President of the Commonwealth more democratic and transparent, there have even been suggestions about modifying the procedure.

The Commonwealth is led by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who is selected by member countries for a four-year tenure. Patricia Scotland is the current Secretary-General, having taken office in 2016. The headquarters of the organisation is in London, UK.

During the year, the Commonwealth hosts a variety of events and activities, including the Commonwealth Games, a multi-sport event held every four years. Every year on the second Monday in March, the Commonwealth celebrates Commonwealth Day, a day to honour the organization’s values and the accomplishments of its member countries.

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Structure of Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth primarily serves as a forum for close, equitable interaction among nations with various economic standings. The Commonwealth’s main initiatives are intended to foster economic cooperation among its members as well as the advancement of democracy and sound governance within each of them.

The Commonwealth does not permit the United Kingdom to have any influence on the affairs of the other states and is not in any way a political union. The majority of Commonwealth countries do not recognise the British Queen/King as their head of state, although some of these so-called Commonwealth Realms do (and theoretically still maintain some minimal political ties to London).

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List of Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth includes 54 countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. Commonwealth countries are diverse; they include some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest, and poorest nations. Small states account for 32 of the members. Tiny states are more sensitive to factors such as climate change and developmental issues.
Every two years, member countries gather for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to discuss issues affecting the Commonwealth and the rest of the globe. Regardless of size or money, all members have an equal voice. This ensures that even the most remote countries have a say in shaping the Commonwealth.

Here is a list of the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, organized by region:

Region Country
Africa Botswana
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
The Gambia
Sierra Leone
South Africa
Asia Bangladesh
Brunei Darussalam
Sri Lanka
Caribbean and Americas Antigua and Barbuda
The Bahamas
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Europe Cyprus
United Kingdom
Pacific Australia
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands

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Commonwealth of Nations UPSC

The Maldives has re-joined the Commonwealth, more than three years after leaving due to rising criticism of its human rights record. The Maldives left the Commonwealth in 2016. The Maldives has been re-instated as the Commonwealth’s 54th member state.
India is a key contributor to the Commonwealth network of institutions, serving as a source of funding, specialists, and training. It also accounts for a significant portion of trade among member countries. In the fiscal year 2015-2016, India was the Commonwealth’s fourth-largest contributor to its budget and the third-largest funder of its joint office at the United Nations in New York.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a topic that is relevant for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam, particularly for the international relations and current affairs sections.

Students can go to the official StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching website for additional information about the UPSC Exam. By completing UPSC Mock Test weekly, aspirants can enhance their question-solving abilities. Simulated exams support high exam performance. To strengthen their preparations for their upcoming exams, students can take a UPSC Mock Test.

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Commonwealth of Nations FAQs

What does it mean to be in the Commonwealth of Nations?

A voluntary organisation of autonomous states and dependent territories united by historical ties (as colonies of the old British Empire) and collaborating on mutual concerns, particularly economy and trade.

Does India belong to the Commonwealth of Nations?

India is the Commonwealth's largest member state, accounting for roughly 60% of the organization's overall population. It is the Commonwealth's fourth largest contributor to budgets and programmes.

What is the benefit of Commonwealth countries?

Commonwealth member countries gain from belonging to a mutually supporting community of independent and sovereign states, which is supported by over 80 Commonwealth organisations. The Commonwealth Secretariat, founded in 1965, assists Commonwealth member countries in their efforts to achieve development, democracy, and peace.

Why China is not part of the Commonwealth Games?

Because China was never a part of the British colonisation, it is not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Why America is not part of Commonwealth?

They have chosen not to submit a membership application. You select to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Several former British Empire members, including the United States and the Republic of Ireland, have declined to join.

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