The modern Commonwealth was established in 1949 as an association of free and equal sovereign states which had been part of the British Empire but were now independent and, in the case of India and Pakistan, on the verge of becoming Republics. There are now 53 member states, with a combined population of 2.2 billion (approximately 30% of world population). Rwanda, the newest member joined in 2009, despite having no direct link to Britain.
The Commonwealth is an association of governments and peoples, built around shared language, institutions, challenges, aspirations and values. Unlike most other international associations, the Commonwealth works on a consensus model and membership is voluntary, predicated primarily on a country’s commitment to upholding shared values and principles, including the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
List of Commonwealth countries
Download the 2014 version of the Commonwealth Charter.
To learn more about the inter-governmental Commonwealth, please visit www.thecommonwealth.org.