Peace-building on Commonwealth Day

I grew up vaguely aware of The Commonwealth, probably because Uncle Harry had emigrated to Australia, and as a kid, I received books from them as Christmas presents.

Books about a strange place with odd marsupials.

Later, I learned it was a hangover from the days when the sun never set.

And later still, I questioned what imperialists did in the name of Queen and country.

These days The Commonwealth is, well, I don’t know, some feel-good organisation of 52 countries. Looking at the list, it doesn’t include British Overseas Territories (BOTs). Hmmm. Need to change that on your website. Especially as it’s a bank hol in Gib. The combined population of The Commonwealth is 2.4 billion people.

Compare this with the 28 countries of the EU and a population of 508 million.

And, here’s a link to the work of The Commonwealth.

Amazingly Rwanda and Mozambique, who have no historic ties with the old British Empire, have also joined The Commonwealth. It seems it is not an exclusive club.

The Gambia also wants to return after pulling out a few years ago (2013).

Interestingly, The Commonwealth has an egalitarian set-up, with all member states, regardless of size, population, money, having an equal say. So for a small country like The Gambia, it is A Good Thing.

This years theme is peace-building. For March, domestic violence will be the focus, ‘peace in the home’. Not sure what happens for the other eleven months of the year.

“While women are disproportionately affected as victims of domestic abuse, this stubborn stain on our communities is no respecter of gender, location or social or economic status. When we understand that 38 per cent of women murdered globally were killed by an intimate partner, this should shock us all into action. This is why I will remain steadfast in my commitment to address this issue,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.

Patricia Scotland

The current secretary general is the first woman: the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC. She is the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General. Born in Dominica, she is the second one from the Caribbean and has a pretty impressive CV.

It seems The Commonwealth is living in a parallel world to the rest of us. Peace-building? If 52 countries can agree on that, why can’t more of us? NB Britain. We are part of The Commonwealth. Can we possibly set an example and not go bombing the shit out of everywhere this year?

All photos taken from the Commonwealth website which permits reproduction for non-commercial use. Further details on their image library.

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64 comments on “Peace-building on Commonwealth Day

  1. The more I read about the commonwealth as an organisation the more I like it and the less scared I feel about Brexit. And yes, it would be lovely if, instead of being the bully’s mate who leans out from behind America and goes ‘nyahhhh’ while it’s throwing its weight about, we could be the other Britain. The commonwealth one.

    Another vote for not bombing the shit out of everywhere from the Bury St Edmunds jury!

    Cheers

    MTM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apart from being a wee kiddy, lamb coming from Australia or NZ, it has passed me by, as I guess it does a lot of people. Since moving to Gib and it actually being a bank hol (they are still called that here), I’ve been interested to read up about it, and what it currently does. I see it hopefully as some sort of reparation for some of our colonialism. If that’s possible.

      Pulling together 52 countries, plus us BOTs, representing a couple of billion people in total from very different cultures is no mean achievement. That’s why I thought the EU comparison was interesting.

      You will maybe hate this next bit! Something came up on FB from a UKIP minister wishing people a happy Commonwealth Day. And, there were a lot of comments saying the UK shouldn’t have dropped the ball on Commonwealth countries in favour of the EEC/Common Market (as was). People were saying we should support Commonwealth countries and build stronger alliances. These are (obviously) Brexit voters. Sure some Brexit (and EU) voters are racist, but not everyone is.

      The FB post also had a link to something about Heath and Wilson knowing the original Common Market deal would lead to loss of sovereignty. Not checked it out for truth yet. Although it has done, which is my major gripe.

      I’d certainly like to see stronger CW alliances, why not? It’s a different way of looking at trade, development, society, culture. Perhaps we can achieve some sort of equality. OK. Nice aspiration, not grounded in reality. But still …

      Neo-colonialism or a better way of working?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Nope, I agree that the Commonwealth has a lot to offer and we are daft to turn our backs on it. And I can see why people wanted to leave Europe and still do want to leave. Obviously, having the cake and eating it, EU trade and CW trade would be nice but the CW might turn out to be a better bet than the EU. Who knows … I sort of see the Commonwealth as, people being sensible about other countries and concentrating on those living there, as other humans more than the political standpoint which is about strategic importance, stuff etc. It would be nice if it was … but I’m quite cynical, too.

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        • I agree about concentrating on people and improving their lives. The issue about EU trade is, at what cost? Financial, legislative, employment, to be part of a superstate, run primarily by Germany with France as deputy. No. I think not. The Commonwealth does not pretend to be a superstate. Sure they set down conditions for joining (ie a democracy to start with) and kick out those who overthrow said democracy. Pakistan has been in and out like a yoyo. Fiji too. I was surprised to see Nepal wasn’t in, but it’s monarchic I guess.

          Aren’t we all cynical? But there have to be better ways of doing things and for me, current political systems are not working. All you have to do is look at America …

          Liked by 2 people

          • I have a theory that it’s advertising. Apparently, in Denmark, they have an 80% average turn out for their elections and advertising spend is very limited. As a result the discussions on TV tend to stick to the issues rather than mud slinging. Personally, I think one of the reasons we are cynical about politics is because we are cynical about advertising. Political parties advertise at you and immediately you chalk up what they’re saying as lies, because we all know that advertising is spin and puff. I reckoned if they took the money out of politics and made it about the actual issues the population would be a lot more engaged, and maybe more ‘normal’ people would go into politics.

            Also somewhere like America, because politics, there, is basically a question of the person who buys the most balloons winning, the people who are high up in the parties and control everything have no interest in changing the status quo because they’re the ones with the most to gain from widening the gap between rich and poor and having more money pour into the pockets of the super rich, a.k.a. them.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I take it you’re not looking for an argument? :D but yeah, the advertising point is well made. Some of us ignore it all anyway, but I accept it influences others. I read manifestos, take them with a bucket of salt, and weigh up the pros and cons. The classic floating voter. Also, I have better things to do than read/listen to bombastic rhetoric.

            Liked by 1 person

          • On most, I would say. Just not one in particular … But at least you haven’t suggested stringing the idiots who voted for it from lamp posts as the former school pal did. Or if you have, I don’t know about it :D

            Liked by 1 person

          • That sort of talk is just crazy. Some leaver’s did crow horribly (not you). Some remainers whinged – but it is now time they stopped.

            Personally, I didn’t want to leave Europe because I was worried about stepping out from under its wing when the US was run by Trump. I had trouble working it out, indeed for a while I was havering either way because, to be honest both campaigns were so full of bullshit it was impossible to determine the issues.

            And then Farrage and the Frintonites. The man is a lizard. So it was mostly about racism for me, or at least the way the racists hijacked the campaign. In that respect I voted with my gut rather than my head! Bad.

            However, the compelling reasons for staying in, to me, were about science grants, free movement of university staff, pooling of knowledge etc, all that kind of stuff, which is better if Britain is in Europe – McOther works with a lot of science start ups and university spin outs and they get lots of EU funding which will stop, possibly hampering Britain’s ability to be really, really good at inventing things. Which it is. And causing many science start ups based here to move overseas. And, of course the security forces working together, which may be a two edged sword.

            Many young folks wanted to take advantage of the non borders thing and work in other countries. And from the point of view of our young people, that is sad. I’d have liked that for McMini. However, to be honest, if they wanted to keep that privilege, the silly buggers should have used their votes. Few who were of voting age did so they can’t complain really.

            As should the people who didn’t like the BS so much they refused to vote. They were gumbies, too.

            However, the way I see it now is that the vote has been cast. And unless everyone is prepared to do it again with a pair of proper campaigns with actual facts that concentrate on the real issues, while Boris and Nigel Farage are locked in a dungeon somewhere, I just have to put up with it.

            There are many advantages to being in Europe but also many disadvantages. There are many advantages to leaving Europe, but also many disadvantages.

            How it pans out for us is probably going to be a matter of positive thinking and national confidence more than anything. What’s done is done. We’ll get a shit deal. Europe has made that very clear. So we just have to accept it, look to new markets and trading partners, and move on.

            We could get in on the ground floor partnering with African countries whoa re beginning to see some economic growth. That might be a start.

            Cheers

            MTM

            Like

          • I went to an all-girls snotty/snooty school. Nuff said. Although the one who came out with it had a father who was a car salesman (she says, with full snottiness of said school).

            I was so surprised at the result, I couldn’t have said anything. Let alone crowed. A long time since I sat up watching election results but when Sunderland came in, I was captivated. Gib was an obvious IN, 98% I think. It’s complex here though.

            The US wasn’t run by Trump at the time though, was it? And Clinton was the favoured candidate. So, being protected by the EU from Trump wasn’t an issue in June. And when, seriously, when, has the EU ever covered Britain’s back?

            Did you see the Farage/Le Pen pic? I didn’t look any further. But, we need to disentangle racism from sovereignty and I don’t think that is being done.

            We both look at it from our partner’s pov. Yours gets added value. Mine loses out. I had a number of reasons. Basically, the EU has done stuff all for most of the UK since we went into the Common Market in 1973.

            There are no workers’ rights. This is one of my big issues. The EU Working Hours Directive is the biggest crock of shit under the sun.

            How many science grants and pooling of university staff affect the working classes? A bit like, the poor financial sector will be worse off. Well tough shit. I do agree with invention, science, engineering. But, why do we need EU funding? If we pay more in, than we get out, as we always have, and it would have been worse if not for the Iron Woman, why not fund our own enterprise?

            Security forces can work internationally. Allegedly. Partner was held up for resembling a Basque terrorist!

            I don’t know anyone from my generation who has worked in Europe. Maybe you do. What people want and what they do are different. And without shit hot language I wouldn’t recommend it. Digo yo.

            Oh no. Not another flipping campaign. That sounds like Sturgeon.

            And those of us who voted out have to accept the deal that isn’t what we wanted.

            I know exactly what I wanted, and it is very hard Brexit. Won’t happen. So like you, I have to put up with that. Basically, there will be little difference except prices will go up. What a surprise.

            Like

          • I knew trump was the next potus from the moment he appeared. So I was taking it as a done deal from then.

            Local companies employ a lot of workers here and train them. I worked in one that had over 300 employees which started with just 24. There was a huge mix of social backgrounds and levels of education among the staff. A fair few had left school at 16. It was started by two blokes in a shed. Or at least a wind tunnel. These are the kinds of people and companies I’m talking about. Things that start at the university or with bright ex students who’ve just left and get spun out. With the help of the uni our with uni expertise and grants but turn into something big. This area may be a bit odd though.

            Here’s hoping good comes of it anyway. :-)

            Like

    • Doubt it, don’t think the Commonwealth does that. Leave that to governments.

      What’s with ‘they’? Last time I looked it included you. In fact Africa is by far the biggest member of the CW. Which is probably why most of the pix I used are from there.

      Thank you, and good arvo to you too. (Arvo: a term used by a CW country, Australia, short for afternoon.)

      Like

      • War everywhere. Statecraft includes war and either it is across borders or internal strife sometimes as a protest against govt or as a struggle for control of resources.
        Many African countries are former British colonies and I think that could explain why they are members of the Commonwealth.

        Like

  2. I like our Commonwealth. I was a republican as a kid, thinking who needed the Queen, but now i’m quite fond of the arrangement in its current form. Non-interfering grandmother, always there, weilding the biggest stick, but never using it on politicians whose powers are curtailed. Perfect? No. But a workable/working system? Sure.

    Liked by 3 people

    • First met my partner in Sydney. For some reason he whinged on about Prince Charles. Not my issue. No interest either way. These days I do think the queen is good, PC, is uh, not good. The Commonwealth also seems good to me. What’s to dislike? It’s not colonial that I see, and it’s not run by British Sec-Gens. Seems to try to do good.

      When I was working in the health service and setting up committees, I didn’t chair them. Same principle. Let someone else run it. She should curtail the politicians though!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have always thought that the Commonwealth is a bit like the Freemasons – A self help club. I see Sturgeon has launched Indy2, I wonder if Scotland will be allowed to stay if she is successful? Probably – that is the raison d’etre of the club. RULE BRITTANIA!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Think it’s a bit less exclusive. Rwanda?

      I see Sturgy is on her latest roll.

      There is a FB page. Hate NS or something. I had to laugh though. Wanted a replay of the England/Scotland match because Scottish people didn’t like the result! Ha!

      Great result mind. Just, wow. Anyway, rugby distraction over.

      I don’t mind Sturgeon’s assertiveness, just I’m not sure how astute it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Do not mention the rugby! Just when I thought Scotland were coming out of the doldrums….

    I thought that ditching Commonwealth trade ties in order to join the (as was ) Common Market was insanity as well as being disloyal to those whose countries were dragged into Britain’s wars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rugby? Good hey? Cracking result :)
      Actually stunning. Didn’t see it, no TV, but still read about rugby. Even though I’m from league country we still had union so I do both, unlike welsh people.

      Agree. No more to say. Politics at its worse and oozing disrespect.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds egalitarian which is, I guess one of the principal aims, that and aiming to improve public welfare (a rather shocking revolutionary concept there).
      Impressive that 52 countries can work together. Maybe there’s not enough politics in it so it actually functions.
      Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the fact that even Countries not raped and pillaged by the all conquering Brits in the 19th Century are applying to join the Commonwealth. The diversity of our little club shows different nations and different colours can work together in a way perhaps the EU doesn’t work.I believe Britain is better in the Commonwealth and long may it survive.
    Huge Hugs xxx

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    • Isn’t the diversity just what is so good? And can you imagine co-ordinating meetings between 52 countries? Perhaps the reason it seems to work as it does is because it’s not about power and greed and MEP jollies, but about improving the lives of ordinary people, whether women selling clothes in Lesotho, or giving youngsters in Kitts and Nevis a start in life. It gets on with the job without fanfare. There’s a lesson in there.

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  6. It cannot be ignored that the British and the colonialists brought backward or primitive nations into the modern world, and ‘reparation’ for injustices during that period remain quite adequately as the legacy they have now inherited.

    The League of Nations had our Jan Smuts as one of the founders, and it and the United Nations it became were remarkably effective in maintaining stability; admittedly less so since 1945. The Commonwealth has been described, with justification, as the power behind the UN. They exert enormous influence there, directly and indirectly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Only you Col!

      I have a lot of gripes about colonisation. Killing the people who lived there for sport because they weren’t white is a good start. Promoting Christianity is another.

      Maybe some good was done in terms of organisation. Although when I went to India they had bureaucracy off to a T. But, so does everywhere else now.

      I was browsing the CW page and noticed they went to visit Mandela when he was in gaol. When he was there for terrorism, yet visited by CW leaders?

      Dynamics of politics are hard to determine, but the CW wanted to end apartheid as far as I can see.

      Maybe behind the scenes is better?

      Like

      • Of course there are gripes about colonisation, but that idea of killing for sport is grossly unfair, at least as it applies to South Africa. There was a minimum of that, other than with the first nations, were the blacks were doing it quite as eagerly as the colonialists.
        Had the Colonialists steered clear of all these countries they would still be as civilised as some upper Amazon tribes are. Maybe they’d be happier that way, of course.
        As for Christianity, it is an aspect of colonialism still held in high favour here.
        With Mandela, even then there was this odd distinction whereby a murderous terrorist was seen as a brave freedom fighter, depending on who was doing the looking

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        • There is pretty hard evidence of Brits killing aboriginals in Australia, specifically Tasmania, and in India.

          Civilised? Hmm. Who’s to determine civilisation? Western – Christian – civilisation? Upper Amazon tribes – might have some rain forest left.

          Not just Mandela, applies to all terrorists/freedom fighters, whether Irish, Israeli, South African, to name but three examples.

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          • The Australian record of ‘humanitarian’ colonialism is particularly bad, where the original inhabitants were hunted for sport. In Africa and India, it was more a case of warfare, with superior weaponry triumphing over superior numbers.
            Civilisation measured in art, knowledge, and abilities provides the most reasonable comparison.

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          • Technically it’s not an Australian record, it’s a British record in Australia. When I visited there back in the 80s, they were going through an anti-Brit phase replacing historical Brit town/street names with more indigenous ones.
            Can’t say about Africa, but hunting Indians for sport def happened. I think I’ve a blog post on it buried in the mists of time.
            But aren’t these values all in the eye of the beholder? One person’s view of Jackson Pollocks may be regarded as the obvious rhyming word. Knowledge? Of what? How to survive in the bush or how to cope with the world of high technology? Post apocalypse who would survive? Same with abilities. For me, one of the most impressive cultures was the medieval Moorish one. Brilliant art and architecture, outstanding mathematics, excellent affinity with the ground for agriculture. I’m biased because I see it all around me in the former Al-Andalus. Similarly the Greek and Roman ones. But I studied all these so I’m more aware of them. Who can deny the beauty of the Taj Mahal? Or the amazing complexity of the pyramids and Egyptian art? As I say, it’s very subjective.

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          • Would one argue that those civilisations were not superior to ones where the height of accomplishment was to construct basic huts and produce music based on little more than rhythm?
            Come to think of it, maybe that sort of music was more progressive than symphonies and things, to judge from the popularity it enjoys in the modern world.
            I don’t think it takes subjectivity to determine higher or lower scales. Simple observation and logic do the job.

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          • From a quick glance at history it seems that everyone kills everyone if they get the chance and think they’ll get away with it.

            And as always, history is written by the killer, not the killee.

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  7. France was rather miffed about Rwanda….in the aftermath of the civil war the new government decided to ditch its ties to France, start using English – and start to play cricket Another loss to the Francophonie, a gain for the Commonwealth. The murky designs of the French in fomenting the civil war could have had something to do with this…

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    • Fascinating. Had no idea. Bit like SA verging towards American rather than English although I am told English not Americanese is still the official way of speech. Same principle though. Chuck colonial chains, and seek others?

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  8. Well, why don’t we evaluate the Commonwealth in terms of outcomes relative to its stated objectives?
    Maybe Spreadsheet Phil could help us with that?

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    • We could do the same with the UK govt, local councils, EU, UN, etc. I think part of it is about getting 52 nations around a table every two years without them falling out. Sure, some leave when politics change. Or they get kicked out for overthrowing democracy. And get readmitted. Personally I wouldn’t want to analyse nearly seventy years of objectives!

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  9. Slightly surprised at the list. I certainly couldn’t have named more than half of them. Fond memories of standing on a chair in the schoolyard, waving flags. Why standing on chairs? Don’t ask me! :)

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    • I think we could all have gone with the obvious ones: Aus, Canada, India, NZ, then it’s remembering which ones in Africa were part of the empire, and adding all the Caribbean islands and the Australasian ones.

      Bet standing on chairs wouldn’t be allowed these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Commonwealths, TPPs, this pact and that pact, trade agreements and EUs and treaties and endless blasted political interferences … what’s wrong with simply letting the damned traders get on with it?

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    • Yes to that too. I think the WTO should be basis and if individual countries want to negotiate deals that’s up to them – rather than superpowers – but a level playing field would be a good start. Ha. Ha. Take the politics out of trade eh? And then what would politicians have left to do? Get on with doing their real job?

      Liked by 1 person

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