Commonwealth

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The Commonwealth - in full, Commonwealth of Nations - is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 independent member states. Most of them were formerly parts of the British Empire. They co-operate within a framework of common values and goals, as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.[ These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace.

The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status. Its activities are carried out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General; biennial Meetings between Commonwealth Heads of Government; and the Commonwealth Foundation, which facilitates activities of non-governmental organisations in the so-called 'Commonwealth Family'. The symbol of this free association is the Head of the Commonwealth, which is a ceremonial position currently held by Queen Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth II is also the monarch, separately, of 16 members of the Commonwealth, informally called the Commonwealth realms. As each realm is an independent kingdom, Elizabeth II, as monarch, holds a distinct title for each, though, by a Prime Ministers' Conference in 1952, all include the style Head of the Commonwealth at the end; for example: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. Beyond the realms, the majority of the members of the Commonwealth have separate heads of state: 32 members are republics, and five members have distinct monarchs: the Sultan of Brunei; the King of Lesotho; the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (or King) of Malaysia; the King of Swaziland; and the King of Tonga.

Note that Fiji is currently a suspended member.

For more details see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_of_Nations


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