Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth,[3] is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire.[4] The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations amongst member states.[5]

Commonwealth of Nations
HeadquartersMarlborough House
London, SW1Y 5HX
United Kingdom
Working languageEnglish
TypeVoluntary association[1]
Member states
Queen Elizabeth II
The Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Boris Johnson
19 November 1926
11 December 1931[2]
28 April 1949
29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi)
 2016 estimate
75/km2 (194.2/sq mi)

The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nations[6] through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalised by the United Kingdom through the Statute of Westminster in 1931. The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernised the community and established the member states as "free and equal".[7]

The head of the Commonwealth is currently Queen Elizabeth II; the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting appointed Charles, Prince of Wales to be her designated successor, although the position is not hereditary. Elizabeth II is the head of state of 16 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 33 other members are republics and 5 others have different monarchs.[8]

Member states have no legal obligations to one another, but are connected through their use of the English language and historical ties. Their stated shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter[9] and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.