Commonwealth of Nations

Lesson Date : 2018-05-14
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The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) began on April 19. It lasted for two days. The meeting, or summit, was held at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Both historic buildings are the homes of Queen Elizabeth the Second. As well as Britain’s ruling monarch and head of state, she is also the leader of the Commonwealth.

The organization’s official name is the Commonwealth of Nations. Currently it has 53 members. The majority of these countries’ leaders attended the summit. Senior politicians or officials represented those that didn’t. A 53-gun salute marked the meeting’s formal opening.

The CHOGM takes place every two years. This one was late. It should have been at the end of last year. That meeting was due to be held in Vanuatu, a Pacific Ocean island nation. This was not possible. Before the meeting, Vanuatu was struck by a cyclone, or very powerful storm. Called Cyclone Pam, it destroyed or damaged much of Vanuatu’s infrastructure and many buildings. A decision was made to “move” the meeting to London.

To be a Commonwealth member, a country must have a political system that allows free speech, democracy, equality of races, free trade and a desire for world peace. Members that do now follow these rules can be expelled or suspended. In the past, Commonwealth members such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Fiji, and Zimbabwe have all been suspended.

Nearly all Commonwealth member countries used to be part of the British Empire. Yet, some previous British colonies chose not to join. These include Egypt and Iraq. In recent years, three African countries that were not former British colonies have joined the Commonwealth. These are Rwanda, Cameroon and Mozambique. Several non-British and previous British colonies have recently applied to join. It's thought that these include South Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen.



In total, the Commonwealth members encompass about 20% of the Earth’s landmasses. By area, Canada is the biggest. With 18, the African continent has the greatest number of members. All together, the 53 countries are home to 2.4 billion people. This is roughly one-third of the world’s population. About 60% of these people are under 30 years old. With 1.3 billion, India is the member with the largest population. Nauru is the smallest. About 10,000 people live on this Pacific island nation. The Commonwealth includes predominantly Hindu, Islamic and Christian nations.

Queen Elizabeth is also the head of state of 16 Commonwealth member countries. Known as Commonwealth realms, these nations include: Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Queen Elizabeth is known to take a great interest in the Commonwealth. Her 92nd birthday was on April 21, or a few days after the Heads of Government Meeting. Elizabeth became queen in 1952. This was after her father, George the Sixth, died. So far, Elizabeth has reigned for 66 years. She is the longest-reigning and longest-lived British king or queen. She is also the world's longest-reigning monarch.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh attended the 2015 summit in Malta. Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall accompanied them. During the latest summit, the member countries confirmed that Charles would succeed as the Commonwealth's head when his mother dies. Due to Queen Elizabeth’s age, Charles will now take over more of her Commonwealth duties.

Britain joined the European Union (EU) in 1973. Then, it was a trading organization. Today, the EU is both a trading and political union. Before it became a EU member, much of Britain's trade was with Commonwealth countries. Its EU membership caused economic difficulties in many Commonwealth countries.

Two years ago, a referendum on EU membership took place in Britain. The majority of people voted to leave it. Britain's membership will end in about 12 months' time. It will continue to trade with other EU members. Yet, this trade is likely to become more difficult and costly.

British politicians are now planning to increase the country's trade with the Commonwealth. It is a smaller consumer market than the EU. However, over time, this may change. Today, the Commonwealth accounts for about 17% of the world's total economy. India is a Commonwealth member. It's currently the fastest growing economy in the world. Many of the discussions at the Heads of Government Meeting were about future trade and how members can work more closely together.

DEBATE

ISSUES : Will the Commonwealth be more powerful than the EU?

Period : 2018-05-14 ~ 2018-06-15
100%
Manager's Pro Opinion
Yes, the Commonwealth will be more powerful than the EU. Currently, the Commonwealth has 53 member countries. Its total population is much bigger than the EU. Therefore, it has a strong potential to be an economically strong group of nations. Many Commonwealth members have growing economies. On the other hand, the EU is about to lose one of its biggest member countries: Britain. The Commonwealth of Nations will continue to grow and work together to become an even stronger and more important organization.
Manager's Con Opinion
No, the Commonwealth will not be more powerful than the EU. It may have more members yet many of them are poor nations and not economically successfully. Commonwealth member countries are far more divided than EU member nations. Even though, the Commonwealth member countries trade with each other, it is not a trading block like the EU. It is just a collection of nations that were former British colonies. These nations cooperate to promote world peace, democracy, free trade, equality, and free speech.
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