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 , in the light of the 2007 Kampala review of the Edinburgh Declaration of 1997, which states (a) have become a member of the Commonwealth of Nations but have no historical ties with the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries, or (b) have applied for, expressed interest in, or have made enquiries about membership of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1997, but have no historical ties with the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries.

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

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala in 2007 heads agreed that, as a general rule, applicant countries should have a historic constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member but, that in exceptional circumstances, applications from other countries could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Rwanda is the only state to have joined the Commonwealth since 1997, having joined in 2009. South Sudan has expressed an interest in Commonwealth membership. This was welcomed at the Heads of Government meeting in Perth in October 2011.

Previously, in 1997, the Palestinian Authority expressed an interest in Commonwealth membership, and Yemen made an application for membership. Heads agreed to keep Yemen's application under review in the context of the membership criteria they had endorsed.

The membership application process is a matter for the Commonwealth Secretariat. Decisions on membership are made by consensus of heads of all Commonwealth members, based on applicant countries meeting the criteria.

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