After the current loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II, her eldest son Charles grew to become not solely king of the UK but additionally the pinnacle of the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary affiliation made up of 56 member nations — most former British colonies — spanning Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific.
It consists of 15 realms, together with nations just like the UK, Canada and Australia, the place the British monarch stays head of state.
However membership to the membership was not contingent on recognizing the British monarch as the pinnacle of state.
So, of the remaining 41 member states of the Commonwealth, 36 are republics, together with nations similar to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The opposite 5 — Brunei Darussalam, Lesotho, Malaysia, Eswatini (previously often known as Swaziland) and Tonga — have their very own monarchs.
The grouping is house to over 2.5 billion folks — a couple of third of the world’s inhabitants — the majority of whom stay within the Indian subcontinent. It accommodates each superior economies and growing nations.
Regardless of its ties to the British Empire, any nation can be a part of the fashionable Commonwealth. The final two nations to hitch the grouping had been Gabon and Togo in 2022.
What’s the Commonwealth’s relevance in at the moment’s world?
Supporters of the group say holding this grouping collectively are shared traditions, establishments, and experiences, in addition to financial self-interest.
However critics argue the Commonwealth has misplaced its sense of function and there are questions hanging over its future.
The Commonwealth is made up of 56 member nations, spanning Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific
Amitabh Mattoo, a famend worldwide relations knowledgeable primarily based in Delhi, believes that though the Commonwealth could look like an “outdated antediluvian discussion board” after the loss of life of the queen, “it retains a distinct segment relevance which has sustained it over time even after the decolonization of the British Empire.”
“We live within the age of multilateral diplomacy, the place states desire a podium to precise their views, advance their pursuits and form international norms. With its numerous membership drawn from throughout continents, the Commonwealth supplies exactly such a discussion board,” Mattoo informed DW.
“It’s, in brief, a platform to precise views and form world opinion. The monarch is barely the symbolic head, the leaders of the free world make the Commonwealth work,” he added.
Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, a constitutional lawyer from Sri Lanka, maintains that for the bloc to stay related, it should advocate democratic values and rights of residents over and above realpolitik that usually dominates conversations between states.
“That should be evidenced in a way that goes past mere pontification from London. In any other case, this grouping turns into a chat store. That has sadly been the case usually in recent times,” she stated.
The lawyer believes the Commonwealth will keep its relevance provided that it turns into an energetic accomplice in fostering the rule of legislation.
The leaders of the group’s member states meet as soon as each two years for a summit, hosted by completely different member nations on a rotating foundation.
Since 1971, a complete of 25 conferences have been held, with the latest being in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2022.
The Commonwealth Secretariat relies in London and is a central intergovernmental group to handle the group’s work.
All through her reign, the queen performed a key function in championing the discussion board and its relevance. And now it is as much as King Charles III to deal with the troublesome job of stewarding the group, and its member states, which have disparate political, social and financial pursuits.
Asif Islam, a media commentator and affiliate editor of Bangladesh’s Dhaka Tribune newspaper, says the Commonwealth will probably stay vital to Bangladesh for a similar causes that it has traditionally been vital. He famous that the rules the Commonwealth has championed are aligned with Bangladesh’s personal values.
“If Elizabeth II’s age was about democracy, the rule of legislation and good governance, responding to local weather change will outline King Charles’ period. The Commonwealth’s significance to Bangladesh shouldn’t be so evident in greenback phrases however is invaluable by way of political and ethical capital,” Islam informed DW.
“Bangladesh and an amazing many Commonwealth states can have good motive to make use of the platform to affect the way forward for the rising world financial system,” he added.
One among King Charles’ greatest challenges?
Nonetheless, some say that the group has achieved nothing substantial and it is time for London to simply accept the fact and shut the group down.
“Britain should settle for actuality and never attempt to cling onto one thing which has misplaced its worth and take the initiative and dispense the Commonwealth with dignity,” Ranjeet Baral, a health care provider primarily based in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, informed DW.
Lee Boon Chye, a Malaysian politician belonging to the Individuals’s Justice Occasion, stated Malaysians ought to rethink their nation’s membership of the membership, mentioning its colonial legacy.
He pressured that the historical past of colonization was a historical past of exploitation and brutal subjugation of indigenous peoples.
“The Commonwealth is shaped by the British empire and former colonies with the British monarch as the pinnacle. Its very existence is legitimizing colonization. We, as a sovereign nation, ought to deal with our worldwide relationships in different platforms such because the UN, ASEAN and different our bodies,” stated Lee.
Given the divided views on the aim and way forward for the Commonwealth, main the membership is probably one of many greatest challenges King Charles will face throughout his reign.
Edited by: Srinivas Mazumdaru