ORGANS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
The following are the organs of the Commonwealth of Nations and their functions.
Table of Contents
The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization comprised of 54 member countries, most of which are former territories of the British Empire. The organization does not have organs in the traditional sense like some other international bodies such as the United Nations. However, it operates through several key institutions and bodies. Here are the main organs or components of the Commonwealth of Nations:
1. Head of the Commonwealth: The Head of the Commonwealth is a symbolic position that is held by the British monarch. The current head is Queen Elizabeth II. This position is not hereditary, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government determine the successor to the throne.
2. Commonwealth Secretary-General: The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the chief executive and administrative head of the Commonwealth. The Secretary-General is appointed by Commonwealth heads of government for a term of four years and is responsible for coordinating the organization’s activities.
3. Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM): CHOGM is a biennial summit where leaders from Commonwealth countries gather to discuss various issues and set the organization’s agenda. It serves as the highest decision-making body of the Commonwealth.
4. Commonwealth Secretariat: The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main operational arm of the organization, headed by the Secretary-General. It provides support and advice to member countries, facilitates cooperation, and implements programs and initiatives endorsed by Commonwealth leaders.
5. Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG): CMAG is a group of ministers from member countries responsible for monitoring and addressing violations of the Commonwealth’s political values and principles. It can take action, including the suspension of a member country in serious cases of non-compliance.
6. Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF): The CGF is responsible for organizing the Commonwealth Games, a multi-sport event held every four years, bringing together athletes from member countries. The federation ensures the proper conduct and management of the games.
7. Commonwealth Foundation: The Commonwealth Foundation supports civil society organizations and promotes sustainable development, democracy, and cultural understanding across member countries. It provides grants and resources for projects and initiatives aligned with its goals.
These are some of the key components or bodies associated with the Commonwealth of Nations. While they may not be referred to as organs, they form the institutional framework through which the organization functions.
Functions of Common Wealth of Nations
- Approval of Budget: It is the sole responsibility of the Prime Minister’s of member-states to receive and approve the budget of the organization.
- Appointment of the Secretary-General: It is the body that appoints the Secretary-General of the organization.
- Discussion of Problems: The Prime ministers of member-states discuss issues, problems as they affect member states and give recommendations or solutions for such problems.
- Power of Sanction: The Prime minster of member-states has the power to sanction any member that does not adhere to the aims and objectives upon which the organization was established for example, Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth in 1995 for the violation of human right i.e the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and other 8 Ogoni citizen.
- Receives Reports: The organ receives reports and endorsed the report of the organization submitted to it by the secretariat.
- The Secretariat: The secretariat of the Commonwealth was established in 1965. The secretariat is headed by a Secretary General and is located in London. The first Secretary General of the Common wealth is Arnold Smith (1965-1975) and he is from Canada and was followed by Sir Shridath Ramphal (1975-1990) from Guyeana. He was succeeded by Chief Emeka Anyaoku from Nigeria (1990-2000).
Functions of the Secretariat
- It organizes conferences of heads of state and government of member states.
- It prepares the report of the organization.
- The secretariat performs administrative functions
- It prepares the annual report on the activities of the organization.
- It provides facilities for all the meetings of the organization.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
The Commonwealth of Nations has achieved several notable accomplishments since its establishment. Here are some of the key achievements of the Commonwealth:
1. Promoting Democracy and Good Governance: The Commonwealth has played a significant role in promoting democracy, good governance, and the rule of law. It has been actively involved in assisting member countries in strengthening their democratic institutions, supporting free and fair elections, and promoting human rights.
2. Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping: The Commonwealth has been involved in mediating conflicts and facilitating peace processes in different regions. For example, it played a crucial role in resolving conflicts in South Africa during the apartheid era and in facilitating the peaceful transition of power in Zimbabwe.
3. Advancing Gender Equality: The Commonwealth has been a champion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. It has advocated for women’s rights, increased women’s political participation, and supported initiatives to address gender-based violence and discrimination.
4. Development and Poverty Alleviation: The Commonwealth has focused on development issues, including poverty alleviation, sustainable economic growth, and access to quality education and healthcare. It has provided technical assistance, financial support, and expertise to member countries in these areas.
5. Climate Change and Environmental Conservation: The Commonwealth has been at the forefront of addressing climate change and promoting environmental conservation. It has led initiatives to promote sustainable development, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support vulnerable countries in adapting to environmental challenges.
6. Youth Empowerment and Education: The Commonwealth has prioritized youth empowerment and education. It has launched programs and initiatives to enhance access to education, skills training, and employment opportunities for young people. The Commonwealth Youth Programme supports youth-led development initiatives and promotes youth participation in decision-making processes.
7. Cultural Exchange and Collaboration: The Commonwealth has fostered cultural exchange and collaboration among member countries. It has promoted cultural diversity, heritage conservation, and intercultural dialogue, facilitating mutual understanding and appreciation among diverse nations.
8. Sports and Sporting Events: The Commonwealth has organized the Commonwealth Games, a major international sporting event that brings together athletes from member countries. The games promote sporting excellence, cultural exchange, and unity among nations.
These achievements demonstrate the Commonwealth’s commitment to promoting shared values, cooperation, and sustainable development among member countries. The organization continues to play a significant role in addressing global challenges and promoting a more inclusive and prosperous world.
PROBLEMS OF COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
- Foreign Policies: One of the problems facing Commonwealth is that its member-nations pursue different foreign policies.
- Problem of South Africa: South Africa’s apartheid policy is still a problem that is threatening to divide member-nations of the Commonwealth.
- No Common Currency: Member-nations no longer have a common currency, as it use to be tied to British pound sterling.
- Compliance with Decision: Another major problem facing Commonwealth is that it has no power to compel its member-nations to comply with its decision and implement its resolution.
- Restriction of Movement: Members of Commonwealth no longer have free movement to immigrants from Commonwealth countries. For example, Nigerians traveling to Britain should require a visa.
- Charter: Commonwealth has no charter like UNO and OAU. Therefore, there are no formal rules governing it.
- Political Instability: Most of the member-nations especially the developing ones are constantly faced with political instability e.g. Military intervention in the political system.
- The Issue of EEC: One of the problems facing Commonwealth is the fact that its member-nations belong to many different other organizations which make them to have divided interest and loyalty to commonwealth e.g. the OAU, ECOWAS, EEC etc.
- Secession: Another problem is that member states can easily secede or pull out of the body.
How can foreign policy constitute a problem to Commonwealth?
GENERAL EVALUATION/ REVISION QUESTIONS
- Explain the meaning and features of the French policy of assimilation.
- Discuss the factors that contributed to the failure of the policy of assimilation in the former French West African colonies
- Make a comparison of the British and French system of colonial administration in West Africa.
- The secretariat of the Commonwealth was established in____ (a) 1963 (b) 1965 (c)1957 (d) 1960
- The first Secretary General of Commonwealth is (a) Arnold Smith (b) Emeka Anyaoku (c) Sir Shridath Ramphal (d) Tony Blair
- The following are the functions of the Prime Minister’s Conference except (a) budget approval (b) appointment of secretary general (c) preparation of annual report (d) discussion of problems
- One of the following is a problem of Commonwealth (a) no charter (b) promotion of unity (c) Common language (d) political assistance.
- E.E.C stands for (a) European Economic Cooperation (b) European Economic Community (c) European Economic Composition (d) European Economic Corps.
- State the problems faced by the Commonwealth
- Explain what you know about the Secretariat of the Commonwealth.