Commonwealth of Nations

Lesson Date : 2018-05-14
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The Commonwealth of Nations is an organization of 53 countries. Queen Elizabeth the Second is Britain's monarch or head of state. She is also the leader of the Commonwealth.

On April 19, a two-day meeting, or summit, called the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) began. The meeting was held at the Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. These historic buildings are Queen Elizabeth's homes. Most leaders of the Commonwealth countries attended the summit. Others sent senior politicians or officials.

The CHOGM takes place every two years. This year's summit was late. It should have taken place at the end of last year in Vanuatu, a Pacific Ocean island nation. Yet, before the meeting, Vanuatu was hit by a powerful cyclone. Much of the country's infrastructure and many buildings were destroyed. The meeting was moved to London.

Most Commonwealth member countries were previously British colonies. Yet, some former colonies chose not to join. Egypt and Iraq are examples. In recent years some countries have joined the Commonwealth that were not ruled by Britain. These include Rwanda, Cameroon and Mozambique. Several other non-British and previous British colonies have applied to join. To be a Commonwealth member, a country must have a democratic system of government. It should allow free speech, racial equality, believe in free trade and have a desire for world peace. Members that do not follow these rules can be expelled or suspended. In the past, Nigeria, Pakistan, Fiji, and Zimbabwe have all been suspended.


In total, the Commonwealth makes up about 20% of the Earth's landmasses. By area, Canada is the biggest. With 18, the African continent has the most member countries. In total, the 53-member nations are home to 2.4 billion people. This is roughly one-third of the world's population. About 60% of them are below 30 years old. India is the member with the largest population. With only about 10,000 people, Nauru is the smallest. The Commonwealth is made up of Hindu, Islamic and Christian nations.

Queen Elizabeth is the head of state of 16 Commonwealth nations. These countries are known as Commonwealth realms. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are all Commonwealth realms. Queen Elizabeth is the longest-reigning and longest-lived British king or queen. She is also the world's longest-reigning monarch. So far, her reign has lasted 66 years.

The 2015 meeting was in Malta. Queen Elizabeth and her husband attended it. Their son, Prince Charles, and his wife, accompanied them. During the latest London summit, the member countries confirmed that Prince Charles would take over as the Commonwealth's head when his mother dies. Now, due to Queen Elizabeth's age, Charles will take over more of her duties.

Britain joined the European Union (EU) in 1973. Then, it was a trading organization. Now, the EU is both a trading and political union. Before joining the EU, Britain mostly traded with Commonwealth countries. Two years ago, most British people voted to leave the EU. The country’s EU membership is due to end in about 12 months’ time. Yet, it will continue to trade with EU member countries. Now, British politicians are planning to increase trade more with Commonwealth nations.

At the Heads of Government Meeting, the leaders discussed future trade and how member countries can work more closely together.

DEBATE

ISSUES : Should the head of the Commonwealth be the British monarch?

Period : 2018-05-14 ~ 2018-06-08
40%
60%
Manager's Pro Opinion
Yes, the head of the Commonwealth should be the British monarch. The British monarch’s position is symbolic. The king or queen symbolizes the importance of the countries’ shared history as former British colonies. The British monarch helped to start the organization. Therefore, the British king or queen plays significant role in how it works. The Commonwealth promotes democracy. The British monarch does not make organization’s most important decisions. The members will still have this power.
Manager's Con Opinion
No, the head of the Commonwealth should not be the British monarch. Not all Commonwealth members are former British colonies. A British monarch may have started the organization, but this was long ago. Now, the Commonwealth is a much bigger organization that includes many more nations. It is a collection of independent states. Therefore, having the British monarch as the head is no longer important. If its monarch remains the head of the Commonwealth, Britain will have too much power and influence over other member countries.
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