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The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 52 independent and equal sovereign states.

The Commonwealth is home to 2.4 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty of our members are small states, many of which are island nations.

Our shared values and principles are inscribed in the Commonwealth Charter.

Member countries are supported by a network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil society, cultural and professional organisations.

The last country to join the Commonwealth was Rwanda in 2009. Find out how countries can join the Commonwealth in our Frequently Asked Questions.

The Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, supports Commonwealth member countries to achieve development, democracy and peace. We are a voice for small and vulnerable states and a champion for young people.

We help to strengthen governance, build inclusive institutions and promote justice and human rights. Our work helps to grow economies and boost trade, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality.

We provide training and technical assistance and support decision-makers to draw up legislation and deliver policies. We deploy experts and observers who offer impartial advice and solutions to national problems. We also provide systems, software and research for managing resources.

At Commonwealth summits, we bring together government leaders whose decisions will have an enduring impact on all citizens. By uniting our member countries in this way, we help to amplify their voices and achieve collective action on global challenges.

Priority areas of work are agreed at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, which occur every two years. The next summit is in the United Kingdom in 2018.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s structure is split into three areas:

  • Governance and Peace
  • Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources
  • Economic, Social and Sustainable Development
Vision

To help create and sustain a Commonwealth that is mutually respectful, resilient, peaceful and prosperous and that cherishes equality, diversity and shared values.

Mission

We support member governments, and partner with the broader Commonwealth family and others, to improve the well-being of all Commonwealth citizens and to advance their shared interests globally.

 

Countries by region

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