Reference work entry
Part of the The Statesman's Yearbook book series (SYBK)

The Commonwealth is a free association of sovereign independent states. It numbered 53 members in Feb. 2018. With a membership of over 2bn. people, it represents around 30% of the world’s population. There is no charter, treaty or constitution; the association is expressed in co-operation, consultation and mutual assistance for which the Commonwealth Secretariat is the central co-ordinating body.

Origin.The Commonwealth was first defined by the Imperial Conference of 1926 as a group of ‘autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations’. The basis of the association changed from one owing allegiance to a common Crown, and the modern Commonwealth was born in 1949 when the member countries accepted India’s intention of becoming a republic at the same time as...

Further Reading

  1. The Cambridge History of the British Empire. 8 vols. 1929 ff.Google Scholar
  2. Judd, D. and Slinn, P., The Evolution of the Modern Commonwealth. 1982Google Scholar
  3. Madden, F. and Fieldhouse, D. (eds.) Selected Documents on the Constitutional History of the British Empire and Commonwealth. 1994Google Scholar
  4. Mayall, James, (ed.) The Contemporary Commonwealth. 2009Google Scholar
  5. McIntyre, W. D., The Significance of the Commonwealth, 1965–90. 1991Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019

Personalised recommendations