Commonwealth

House of Lords written question – answered on 10th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all states are eligible under the criteria of the Edinburgh Declaration of 1997 to become members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

The criteria for membership of the Commonwealth of Nations were most recently clarified at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala in 2007, following a review by the Committee on Commonwealth Membership. Heads agreed on the following criteria:

an applicant country should, as a general rule, have had a historic constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member, save in exceptional circumstances;in exceptional circumstances, applications should be considered on a case-by-case basis;an applicant country should accept and comply with Commonwealth fundamental values, principles, and priorities as set out in the 1971 Declaration of Commonwealth Principles and contained in other subsequent declarations;an applicant country must demonstrate commitment to: democracy and democratic processes, including free and fair elections and representative legislatures; the rule of law and independence of the judiciary; good governance, including a well-trained public service and transparent public accounts; and protection of human rights, freedom of expression, and ;quality of opportunity;an applicant country should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions, such as the use of the English language as the medium of inter-Commonwealth relations, and acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth; andnew members should be encouraged to join the Commonwealth Foundation, and to promote vigorous civil society and business organisations within their countries, and to foster participatory democracy through regular civil society consultations.

Further information on the criteria for Commonwealth membership and application process is available publicly on the Commonwealth Secretariat website: www.the commonwealth.org.

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