Commonwealth - Explained
What is a Commonwealth?
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What is a Commonwealth?
Founded in 1949, the Commonwealth refers to one of the oldest political associations of states. The roots of this union trade back to the native British Empire when some states were entirely ruled by Britain. Besides, some of these countries progressively became self-governed while they retained Britains monarch as the leader of nation. They created the British Commonwealth of Nations. Since its founding, the foundation has accepted various states and continents including Africa, Asia, Europe, as well as the Pacific Ocean. Membership is often based on equal as well as free voluntary cooperation. As such, the recent two states to join the Commonwealth are such as Rwanda and Mozambique. However, they don't have any historical ties with the British.
What are Some Commonwealths?
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa is a trading platform that has one member states stretching between Tunisia and Eswatini. Founded in 1994, the organization has since replaced the Preferential Trade Area which has been in existence since 1981. Over the years, nine member states established a trade free area. These states are such as Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and Sudan. Other countries would later join the organization in 2004. They include Comoros and Libya. COMESA is the backbone of economic growth in Africa. In 2008, the foundation agreed to form an expanded trade-free zonal area that included two trading blocs namely the Southern Africa Development as well as the Eastern African Community.
Australia The Commonwealth remains to be one of the universe's oldest political associations of states. It traces its roots back to the British Empire when Britain ruled most countries. Over the years, some of these states became self-governing. In 1891, the Commonwealth was incorporated with Australia as its co-founding member. As such, Commonwealth was generated from the Federation of six colonies from Australia. These states held a meeting in Sydney to discuss a way forward in regards to the adoption of the organization. The process was met by some republicanism thereby making it seem controversial. The idea was upheld in subsequent drafts of the same constitution.
The Bahamas The Commonwealth of the Bahamas refers to a coral archipelago that occurred across the 700 islands of the Bahamas as well as more than 2,000 rocks and cays found in the West Atlantic and South-East of the Coast of Florida.
Dominica The Commonwealth of Dominica refers to an island country situated in the West Indies. Its Capital, Roseau, is located in the western area of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands found in the archipelago of the Lesser Antilles. Dominica is one of the few republics in the Caribbean.
Certain U.S. States and Territories
The Commonwealth of Nations is associated with 53 sovereign states. Almost all of them are colonies. Being an international organization where countries have diverse social as well as economic backgrounds, the Commonwealth has outlined its goals in every portfolio. In the United States, four main countries have taken up special tags as commonwealths. They are: Virginia officially known as the Commonwealth of Virginia, this is a state situated in the Southeastern as well as the Mid-Atlantic regions of the US. Virginia was named the Old Dominion because of its economic status as the leading English colonial possession founded in North America. The capital of this city is Richmond which is a populous city. Kentucky- Officially called the Commonwealth of Kentucky, this state is situated in the east and south central region of the United States of America. Even though it is often referred to as the State of Kentucky when dealing with matters of law, this is one of the four prominent states of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts- From 1780, the words State of Massachusetts Bay was often used to refer to the top acts of conflict resolution. In 1780, the Massachusetts Constitution was affected. Therefore, Part Two of the entire Constitution was termed the Frame Government. It stated that the people from themselves by becoming a free sovereign as well as an independent body named The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pennsylvania- the Seal of Pennsylvania doesn't use the term. But, legal processes are in the Commonwealth, as a traditional official designation utilized to refer to the state. In 1776, the first state constitution of Pennsylvania related to it as a Commonwealth as well as State. The pattern usage was perpetuated in different laws such as the 1838 and 1958.
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - On July 4, President Harry S. Truman signed the Public Act 600, which paved the way for Puerto Ricans to write their own constitution thereby creating the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. As such, the US has conferred Commonwealth status on Puerto Rico thus upgrading Puerto Rico's political and economic status to the commonwealth. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - The Northern Mariana Islands is officially known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The area is an insular geographical location and commonwealth of the United States of America. It consists of 14 islands in the Pacific Ocean including a separate U.S. territory.
Commonwealth of Nations
As the British Empire started its process of decolonization as well as the creation of various independent states from British colonies, there arose the need for an organization of countries as part of the Empire. The Commonwealth of Nations was created in 1931, and later on, 53 independent states came together to form colonies. The foundation was established under the Statute of Westminster with five members initially. These were the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State, and Newfoundland.
What is the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)?
CIS, also referred to as Russian Commonwealth, is a regional organization comprising of 10 post-soviet republics in Eurasia. The organization was formed after the Soviet Union dissolved. The organization has an estimated area of 20,368,759 square kilometers with a population of 239,796,010. It was formed to encourage cooperation in economic, military and a political aspects and it possesses powers to coordinate trade, lawmaking, security and cross-border crime prevention.
What is the History of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)?
CIS has its roots in the Soviet Union (USSR) which was started in 1922 following the Treaty and Declaration of Creation USSR by Russian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR. In 1991, USSR started to fail and the founding republics signed the Belavezha Accord and declared the end of USSR and the inception of CIS as its replacement. A few days after signing the Belavezha Accord, the republics signed the Alma-Ata Protocol that saw the dissolution of USSR. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia (Baltic States) chose not to participate, Georgia withdrew its membership from 2008 and Ukraine ended its participation in 2018.
Eight CIS members participate in CIS Free Trade Area. CIS oversees the activities of three other organizations namely Collective Security Treaty, Eurasian Economic Union and Economic Space and the Union State.
The first two are economic and military alliances and the third is a supranational union with a common government, currency and flag. Mikhail Gorbachev tried to save the Soviet Union in 1991 by proposing a referendum to preserve the Union and refer to it as the Union of Sovereign States. However, the Communist Party attempted a coup in August 1991 and the Treaty was never signed.
The Inter-parliamentary Assembly started in 1992 in Kazakhstan. In 1995, CIS leaders came together and signed the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Convention of CIS member nations which was endorsed by nine parliaments. Under the convention, Inter-parliamentary Assembly was houses in Turide Palace in St. Petersburg and it plays the role of a consultative parliamentary wing of CIS. The Inter-parliamentary Assembly would discuss problems related to parliamentary cooperation and to review draft documents related to national legislatures in CIS for their use in lawmaking and law amendments. The assembly was also tasked with handling integration processes in CIS and to observe national elections.
The idea behind CIS was to create a platform where nations would discuss social and economic development. To do this, members agreed that they have to protect human rights. While initially the nations used to protect human rights through statements of good will, in 1995, CIS adopted a CIS Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedom. The CIS Human Rights Treaty of 1995, which started being enforced in 1998, mirrors the European Convention on Human Rights. Even after the signing of the Treaty, CIS members still have poor human rights records. A good example is the Andijan Massacre in 2005. When President Vladimir Putin consolidated power, there was a steady improvement in the human rights cases.
Through the CIS Charter, the Council of Ministers of Defense was established to coordinate military coordination of CIS member states. The council is tasked with developing conceptual approaches to military and defense policies of CIS member states. They are also mandated with giving expert opinion on treaties and agreements related to military developments. The council is also involved with approximating legal acts in defense and military development. The integration and cooperation of military powers in CIS member states saw military personnel grow two-fold along the western border and 1.5 times along the southern borders. The CIS Military Cooperation Coordination Headquarters was established after the abolishment of the CIS Armed Forces Headquarters in 1993.
The 1994, there were efforts CIS Free Trade Area but there was no agreement signed that year. In 2009, a new agreement was started, the CIS Free Trade Agreement, which was signed by all members. All members, except Azerbaijan, participate in Free Trade. The Free Trade Area eliminates import and export duties on different goods and it also contain a number of exemptions that might soon be phased out. There was also an agreement signed and based on currency regulations and control in CIS in 2011. Even with the Free Trade Area, Corruption and bureaucracy remain a problem in CIS member countries. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, suggested that member nations adopt digitization to modernize economies.