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Politics & press news – Embassy 46

A Commonwealth for a new era

On Commonwealth Day The Queen signed a historic new Charter to refocus the family of nations on its core values and maintain its relevance to member states as they face new challenges in the 21st Century.

Signing the document, in the presence of High Commissioners representing the 54 member states, The Queen said the Charter represented “a significant milestone as the Commonwealth continues its journey of development and renewal.”

Prominent in the anti-apartheid movement in the 20th century, the Commonwealth's new Charter reaffirms the commitment of member states to 16 ‘core beliefs’ including democracy and human rights and their opposition to all forms of discrimination.

With homosexual acts being illegal in some Commonwealth states, the Charter does not explicitly promote gay rights but does oppose discrimination “on all other grounds”.

For the small states that make up 32 of the 54 member states, the document represents a diplomatic triumph because it places special emphasis on vulnerable, small states. With its global reach, the Commonwealth provides a platform to raise the concerns of these states.

The Commonwealth will be meeting with Russia, which holds the Presidency of the G20, in the margins of the Spring IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington to ensure the concerns of small states are on the table when the leaders of the G20 nations meet.

This will be followed by a Very Small States Conference hosted by the Commonwealth at the end of April.

The Queen signs the Commonwealth Charter

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