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Commonwealth of Nations

Literature[edit]

The shared history of British presence has produced a substantial body of writing in many languages, known as Commonwealth literature. The Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, with nine chapters worldwide and an international conference is held every three years.

In 1987, the Commonwealth Foundation established the annual Commonwealth Writers' Prize "to encourage and reward the upsurge of new Commonwealth fiction and ensure that works of merit reach a wider audience outside their country of origin". Prizes are awarded for the best book and best first book in the Commonwealth, as well as regional prizes for the best book and best first book from each of four regions. Although not officially affiliated with the Commonwealth, the prestigious Man Booker Prize is awarded annually to an author from a Commonwealth country or the three former members, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and the Gambia. This honour is one of the highest in literature.

Political system[edit]

Due to their shared constitutional histories, most countries in the Commonwealth have similar legal and political systems. The Commonwealth requires its members to be functioning democracies that respect human rights and the rule of law. Half of Commonwealth countries have the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association facilitates cooperation between legislatures across the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum promotes good governance amongst local government officials. Most Commonwealth members use common law, modelled on English law. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the supreme court of 14 Commonwealth members.

Symbols[edit]

The Commonwealth has adopted a number of symbols that represent the association of its members. The English language is recognised as a symbol of the members' heritage; as well as being considered a symbol of the Commonwealth, recognition of it as "the means of Commonwealth communication" is a prerequisite for Commonwealth membership.

The flag of the Commonwealth consists of the symbol of the Commonwealth Secretariat, a gold globe surrounded by emanating "rays", on a dark blue field; it was designed for the second CHOGM in 1973, and officially adopted on 26 March 1976. 1976 also saw the organisation agree to a common date on which to commemorate Commonwealth Day, the second Monday in March, having developed separately on different dates from Empire Day celebrations.

Recognition[edit]

A poll in the fifty three member nations showed that seven of the states on the occasion of 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth in 2009 commissioned by the Royal Commonwealth Society found that in the seven countries a majority were largely ignorant of the Commonwealth's functions and indifferent towards its future. In Canada one third of respondents said they would not care if Canada left the Commonwealth, half could not describe what it does, and Canadians were four times more likely to support closer ties to the United States. Support was also weak in other of the seven wealthier Commonwealth realms but much stronger in the many poorer Commonwealth nations where human rights abuse and poverty was an on-going concern, these citizens look to the Commonwealth for support and protection. Nearly one fifth of Australian respondents said they would be "delighted" or "pleased" if their country left the Commonwealth while at the same time six other nations were applying for membership due to the Commonwealth's guarantee of human rights, closer trade and cultural ties.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1. ^ The Commonwealth of Nations is sometimes called the "British Commonwealth" to differentiate it from the Commonwealth of Independent States, also called the "Russian Commonwealth". However, the title "British Commonwealth", along with "British Empire", is historic and should not be used to describe the modern Commonwealth of Nations.

References[edit]

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