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FeaturesNewsThe Commonwealth in troubling times and the controversy surrounding Sri Lanka

The Commonwealth in troubling times and the controversy surrounding Sri Lanka

Sir Ronald Sanders KCMG AM
is a Senior Research Fellow at the
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
and a former Caribbean diplomat

”If the Summit in Sri Lanka is to be meaningful, Heads of Government must set up machinery to address this issue urgently and credibly. It will call for careful diplomatic stage-managing by the Secretary-General, and transparent and open chairmanship by the Sri Lankan President. Whether this can be achieved is left to be seen. But, if this matter is not tackled with urgency and credibility, the Commonwealth may well go over the cliff to disintegration on which it is now dangerously perched.”
By Sir Ronald Sanders KCMG AM

I congratulate the Bristol Commonwealth Society as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of its Charter.
The Society has maintained belief in the Commonwealth from its early status as a grouping of Britain and its dominions through its re-birth as the modern Commonwealth of Nations in 1949 to the present.
The Society deserves the admiration and respect of all the Commonwealth’s people for remaining so steadfast and unswerving a believer in the merit and importance of the Commonwealth association even at times of doubt.
Over the last 64 years much has changed about the Commonwealth.
While the association has been of immense benefit to its member countries and a valuable influence in international relations, more recently its relevance has been questioned by many non-governmental organisations, academics and commentators in the media.
Troubling issues
As we gather this evening, the inter-governmental Commonwealth is enduring troubling times. Evidence of this is the following:
  •    It is being tugged in different directions by the preferences of its member governments. This motion should not be mistaken for progress. 
  •    Approximately 70 per cent of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Budget is funded by only three of its member governments – Britain, Canada and Australia. For financial year 2012/2013, the Budget was a meagre £16.1 million. For the current financial year, there has been no real increase in the Budget which was settled for the current year only after unprecedented manoeuverings and disagreements amongst government representatives.
  •   The other 49 members are reluctant to increase their contributions, and more than 30 of the member states are in arrears of their contributions. This suggests that the Commonwealth does not now rank high among the instruments for pursuing their foreign policy goals.
  •   The Secretariat needs at least another £3 million per annum to carry out effectively the mandates it now has.
  •   Good staff members are leaving the Secretariat, and its uncompetitive salaries and conditions make it difficult to attract better personnel.      
  • There is a general lack of knowledge about the Commonwealth in its member-states and the majority of its governments are doing little or nothing to explain and promote it.
  •  The media consider it to be of such little relevance that it gets coverage only in the case 
  • of some dramatic event such as the unheralded announcement by the President of The Gambia that as of October 3rd 2013 he has withdrawn the country from the
  • Commonwealth because it has suddenly and inexplicably become “a neo-colonialist” organisation.
  •  A kind of North-South divide has developed centred on the importance of upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law as fundamental requirements for Commonwealth membership; and
  •         There is controversy over the government of Sri Lanka’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in a few weeks.
The controversy surrounding Sri Lanka
Because of its topicality, I will digress from the main thrust of this presentation to make a few observations about the controversy that surrounds the Commonwealth summit being held in Sri Lanka.
As is well known Sri Lanka has been the focus of attention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for several years.
At the end of August 2013, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, expressed her “deep concern” that the government of Sri Lanka “is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction”.i This statement came in the wake of an allegation by an Expert Panel set up by the UN Secretary-General that war crimes had been committed in Sri Lanka, and recommendations that there should be an independent international investigation.
The Sri Lankan government resisted such an investigation.
In the ensuing period several organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative have accused the Sri Lanka government of “restrictions on civil liberties, intolerance for dissent, intimidation of the media, and inaction in the face of extremist attacks against minorities”. They have all called on Commonwealth governments to change the venue of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The impeachment of the country’s Chief Justice, by a process held to be illegal both by Sri Lanka’s own Supreme Court and international experts, strengthened calls for the change of venue.

 Those who called for the change in venue argued that “allowing Sri Lanka to host CHOGM (the
Heads of Government Meeting) might be seen as condoning the violations of its (the
Commonwealth’s) values”.
For his part, the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, rejects any notion of serious and persistent human rights violations by his government. Instead, he and other members of his government have characterised efforts to criticize his government’s record as unjustified and interfering.
In a statement to the UN General Assembly on 24th September 2013 said three things: First: “It is disturbing to observe the growing trend in the international arena of interference by some in the internal matters of developing countries in the guise of security and guardians of human rights”. Second, “This turmoil results from attempts to impose a type of democracy upon countries with significantly different cultures, values and history. The world needs no policing by a few states”. And, third: “I am proud that Sri Lanka has eradicated separatist terrorism spanning three decades and is in the process of addressing the issues of development and reconciliation”.
While concerns have been expressed about the situation in Sri Lanka by some Commonwealth governments notably the governments of the United Kingdom and India, it is the government of Canada that has most robustly expressed its disquiet. For almost two years the Canadian
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Foreign Minister John Baird have stated that: “The absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war is unacceptable”.ii
This stand by the Canadian government is entirely consistent with its record on upholding Commonwealth values. In 1961, it was Canada that first declared the racist policies of the government of South Africa to be incompatible with Commonwealth values and prompted it to withdraw from the Commonwealth; it was also Canada in the 1980s that stood alone of all the OECD countries in imposing sanctions on South Africa to help force the release of Nelson Mandela from prison; Canada also took a lead role alongside African, Asian and Caribbean States in the 1980s and 1990s to bring an end to the minority Ian Smith regime in Southern Rhodesia and later in the struggle to end Apartheid in South Africa.
On 7th October 2013, Prime Minister Harper announced that neither he nor any Minister of the Canadian government would be attending the Summit in Sri Lanka. Instead, Canada’s representative would be Parliamentary Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, Deepak Obhrai, whose presence, according to Mr Baird, would be “to enable Canada to partake in some events surrounding the summit which will allow us to shed light on the true tragedy in Sri Lanka”.iii

Mr Harper gave as his reason for non-ministerial representation at the meeting in Sri Lanka that: “Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundation upon which the Commonwealth was built. It is clear that the Sri Lankan government has failed to uphold the Commonwealth’s core values, which are cherished by Canadians”.iv
And therein lies the rub.
Upholding values or a sinister purpose
President Rajapaksa’s statement at the UN General Assembly and the reasons given by Prime Minister Harper for Canada’s non-ministerial representation at the Summit in Sri Lanka go to the core of serious dissension within the Commonwealth. It is a dissension which is also reflected in the decision by President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia to withdraw his country from the Commonwealth effective 3 October 2013.
There is now a resiling by some governments from the values that all Commonwealth governments have declared they support, and an accusation that those governments that seek to uphold those values – and the credibility of the Commonwealth – have a sinister purpose.
This is an issue that requires urgent attention by all Commonwealth governments if the association is to remain cohesive and effective. The problem will not go away, nor can it be papered over by mere expressions of concern. It requires vigorous and serious attention by governments at the highest levels.
Before I leave the Sri Lanka matter, I would make two observations about the venue for Summit meetings and the Chairmanship of the Commonwealth.
First, deciding two years in advance (or even longer) on the venue for the Heads of Government Meeting should be discouraged. It is a practice that did not occur before 1993. Two years is too long a time, and much could happen to change the attractiveness of a venue. The process gives hostages to fortune. While countries could indicate their desire to host a Summit, it would be both practical and desirable for the decision on the venue to be taken only within a year before the meeting by a process of the Secretary-General taking soundings from governments about the countries that have offered themselves.
Second, with regard to the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office – a position that was established in 1999 – the Eminent Persons Group (the EPG) of which I was a member had recommended to the last Summit in 2011 that both the position of the two-year Chair-in-Office and the Troika of past, present and future Chairs of Commonwealth meetings be abolished. We made the pointthat “the Commonwealth has not benefitted from the current arrangements”.v This recommendation was rejected. But, had it been accepted, the Commonwealth would not now be subjected to the criticism of the President of Sri Lanka being Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth while he and his government defend themselves in the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
I return now to the main thrust of this presentation.

Unmanaged diversity a threat to the Commonwealth
Over the years, there has been an assumption that the Commonwealth comprises States that naturally cling together, sharing common interests and aspirations. Despite their diversity in ethnicity, religion, geography, size and culture, it has been assumed that they could remain cohesive under the Commonwealth banner because of their historical links to Britain and the legal and administrative systems that resulted from those But, in reality – and especially over the last two decades – more diversity and less commonality have evolved in Commonwealth membership, and diversity has produced division.
Commonwealth member States have forged alliances with other countries and with other groups of countries on vital matters such as trade and investment, and defence and security. These alliances now loom large in their concerns in practical ways and have, to some extent, dwarfed their links to the Commonwealth.

Of particular importance in this regard is the emergence of China as the second largest economy in the world and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves (US$3.2 trillion), a bigger provider of concessionary loans to many developing Commonwealth countries than the World Bank, and the biggest trading partner of many of them. It is well known that China places no priority on democracy as we know it or on respect for human rights as an international standard. China does not make democracy and human rights conditions of its economic relationship with Commonwealth developing countries. Hence, even though it may be unintended, China’s policies undermine the Commonwealth’s core political values of respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.vii
We should recall that the Commonwealth is a voluntary not a treaty organisation; it is not a defence and security organisation; it is not a trade organisation; it is not a health and education organisation; and despite the modest (though important) resources of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, it is not an aid organisation. It does provide technical assistance, advice and advocacy in all the areas just listed, but while these contributions are important to developing Commonwealth countries, other agencies and other alliances with far greater resources fulfill bigger needs and, therefore, command greater allegiance.

The Commonwealth: Better a small values-based association
This begs the question: what is the Commonwealth? Essentially, the Commonwealth is a Club
– a Club with rules. Membership is voluntary and governments can choose to withdraw at any time. To get into it and to remain a part of it, members are expected to conduct themselves according to the rules which are embodied in the many declarations that Commonwealth governments have made over the years setting out the values and principles for which their countries stand.
Last year, all Commonwealth Heads of Government – including the President of The Gambia and the President of Sri Lanka – established a Charter of the Commonwealth that re-committed all member states to the values of the Commonwealth as set out in all eleven of its declarations from 1971 to 2011. Under the Charter, governments declared their commitment to “equality and respect for protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, for all without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies”. They noted “that these rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and cannot be implemented selectively”.
When governments sign-up for membership of the Commonwealth, they sign up to all these values – not only the ones that suit them from time to time. It is these values – taken collectively – that define the Commonwealth; it is adherence and commitment to these values – all of them – that distinguishes the Commonwealth; it is pursuit of these values that give the Commonwealth relevance within its own member countries and influence in the international community.
In this connection, when the Apartheid regime withdrew South Africa from the Commonwealth in 1961 to pursue its racist policies, the association was stronger not weaker for it; when the Mugabe regime withdrew Zimbabwe in 2003 after the Commonwealth suspended it for seriously flawed elections and organised violence against non-Mugabe supporters, the association was stronger not weaker for it; now that President Yahya Jammeh has withdrawn The Gambia because of his wish to victimize homosexuals including by, as he says, “beheading them”viii, the Commonwealth is stronger not weaker for it.
The Commonwealth would be far more relevant to its people and more credible to the international community if it comprised States that are genuinely committed to expanding human understanding and development within their own countries and among all nations, than if it simply sought to maintain and expand its membership despite the violations of its values and principles by its member governments.

  The Gambian President and the Commonwealth scapegoat
But, it should be recalled that it is not the Commonwealth by any of its mechanisms that suspended or expelled The Gambia despite the poor record of its government in violating the rules of the Commonwealth Club; it was the Gambian President who withdrew the country. He said he did so because, according to a public statement by his Information Minister, he no longer wishes to “associate with Great Britain” and “will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism”.ix The contradiction in his position is that he has withdrawn his country from the Commonwealth because of Britain, but yet he continues to maintain direct diplomatic and other relations with Britain. In this connection, it is clear that the Commonwealth was merely a scapegoat for the President’s unhappiness with the British government positions in relation to his government’s human rights record, although, curiously The Gambia is not among the 27 countries about which the British government expressed concern in the most recent Foreign and Commonwealth Offices report on Human Rights.x
Of course, the Commonwealth itself is no longer British. That ceased in 1949 with the creation of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. And, if it was not obvious before that the
Commonwealth had ceased to be a “British” organisation, it was certainly obvious when, in the 1980s and 1990s, Commonwealth governments stood up against the British government over the independence of Southern Rhodesia under majority rule and when Britain was isolated by the Commonwealth over the imposition of sanctions on apartheid South Africa.
Human Rights: “Western import” or universal birthright
To return to the rules of the Commonwealth Club. One of the most important rules of the Club authorises the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – a group of eight rotating foreign ministers – to assess and deal with such violations. Between 2002 and now CMAG has addressed only three countries – Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Pakistan –and only on the issue of unconstitutional overthrows of governments. Yet there have been credible reports of violation of the Commonwealth’s core values in those and other countries that should have warranted attention.
The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) that produced the report on reform of the Commonwealth for the 2011 Heads of Government meeting in Perth had recognised that a Committee of Foreign Ministers of member countries would be hard-pressed to adjudicate violations of Commonwealth values by other Commonwealth governments with which they are engaged regularly in a variety of affairs. This is why the report stated that there is need for full-time attention to be paid to determining when serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values occur in Commonwealth countries, and also for exploration and analysis to advise both the Secretary-General and CMAG when such violations persist despite any ‘good offices’ workby the Secretary-General. The EPG specifically recommended the appointment of a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights – a body that would undertake objective analysis and give dispassionate advice.
With the exception of a few, Commonwealth governments rejected the idea of the
Commissioner. It wasn’t the first time that such a recommendation had been rejected.
Ironically, in 1977, the then government of The Gambia had also recommended the creation of a Commonwealth Commission on Human Rights. As a matter of interest, among the governments that rejected the Gambian proposal for a Commission on Human Rights in 1977 was the government of the United Kingdom.
In any event, tension has now developed between Commonwealth governments with governments from some developing states claiming that human rights concerns are “Western exports”, incompatible with more urgent development issues and cultural differences. That claim was explicit in the Sri Lankan President’s statement to the UN General Assembly to which I referred earlier.
But, it was to secure their human rights that slaves revolted in the Caribbean against their exploiters and abusers; it was to secure human rights that Mahatma Gandhi encouraged passive resistance in India; it was to secure human rights that freedom fighting organisations were created in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. These were not “Western imports”; they were manifestation of people yearning for their freedom and their rights. Human rights are not a Western concept; they are ancient quests of all mankind. And, as US President Barack Obama recently pointed out to the General Assembly of the United Nations, “they are the birthright of every person”.
Commonwealth cohesion requires constant vigilance
Nonetheless, different perceptions about the comparative importance of democracy and development now dominate the unspoken agenda of the Commonwealth. These different perceptions, arising out of the diversity of Commonwealth membership, dominated discussions by the Secretariat’s Board of Governors of the recently adopted Strategic Plan for the Secretariat. The sometimes acrimonious discussions were prolonged, causing agreement on the Secretariat’s Budget to be delayed halting programmes, putting jobs in jeopardy and draining staff morale.
At the heart of the Commonwealth’s present difficulties is the very diversity that the Commonwealth has touted as a strength. We should not discount that the Commonwealth is now an association of 53 nations. It is no longer the eight countries that fashioned the modern Commonwealth in 1949 or even the twenty that agreed to establish a Secretariat in 1965. It is a very diverse grouping.

 Diversity is a variety of differences, not of sameness. Diversity is only a strength if it is harnessed and harmonised; if room is made to accommodate dissimilarities. Otherwise, diversity is a weakness. Diversity means that small countries see survival differently to large ones; and developed countries have priorities and perspectives dissimilar to developing ones.
This is why the governments of the Commonwealth and the Secretariat of the Commonwealth have to work continuously and diligently to build trust, confidence and understanding among themselves and in the Commonwealth as an association. But, such trust, such confidence, such understanding and belief will not emerge by themselves, nor should they be presumed to exist. They require constant vigilance, promotion and advocacy by those who are charged with the
Commonwealth’s fulltime stewardship.
That task begins with the Commonwealth Secretariat. Its leadership should be concerned with keeping the worth and relevance of the Commonwealth alive and vibrant, even if that task runs the risk of leaders, such as the President of The Gambia, withdrawing from the association because the Commonwealth’s declared values restrain policies of discrimination and victimization.
In this context, it is incumbent on the Secretariat to work with governments at the highest levels constantly, to warn them of potential conflicts and tensions, to build bridges, to advise corrective action that should be taken by any of them that violate Commonwealth values, and to recommend CMAG action should corrective action not be taken. The criteria for the
Secretariat’s work should be the Charter of the Commonwealth and all the values and principles that it embraces. There can be no other.
Those Commonwealth values, enshrined in the Charter, include sustainable development and social transformation to build economic resilience and promote social equality – importantly
“to meet the basic needs of the vast majority of the people of the world”. Despite its extremely limited resources, the Commonwealth has performed well in this area over the years, and even though its Budget has been reduced in real terms, the Commonwealth Secretariat has delivered in the areas of its competence and capacity.
Commonwealth co-operation in development
The Commonwealth does not have the resources of the UN agencies – what it can do is respond to urgent needs of its members especially the 34 small sates in a variety of areas in which they lack capacity and which are crucial to their economic and social well-being.
The Commonwealth – acting in the name of all of its member states – can also be a powerful advocate for the development-related issues that confront developing states. The record speaks for itself. It was the Commonwealth that conceived and promoted the idea of relief for

Highly Indebted Poor Countries with the World Bank and other financial institutions. It was in the Commonwealth that the concept of small states’ vulnerability was identified with all its harmful implications not only for trade and investment, but also for their resilience in the face of natural disasters and even drug trafficking. These have had real impact on poverty reduction and the improvement of life in developing countries.
Beyond this – every day, in every developing region of the Commonwealth – the Commonwealth works without a sign board and without neon lights to help developing states to improve their circumstances. This work includes lodging submissions with the UN for their Extended Continental Shelf; helping to settle maritime boundaries that had been unresolved for decades; strengthening public administration; negotiating bail-out packages for countries that urgently needed to reschedule their debts, and supporting developing countries in global and multinational trade negotiations so that they could benefit from outcomes that they could not achieve on their own.
What is remarkable about this unsung and often unrecognised work is that it is the result of genuine Commonwealth co-operation. The majority of the bill has been paid by three countries
– Britain, Canada and Australia – while all developing countries have benefitted. In this regard, the argument that the Commonwealth is being forced to allocate the majority of its resources to democracy and human rights and a smaller portion to development issues is simply false.
In the last financial year 2012/2013, of the combined budgets of the Secretariat and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), £16.3 million was spent on development and £2.7 on democracy. Throughout the years of the Commonwealth’s existence from 1965 when the Secretariat was established, an important hallmark of the Commonwealth has been the co-operation of its major financial contributors in the development goals of its less well-off members – it has been an enviable example of North-South co-operation.
The Commonwealth under-resourced
What is true now, however, is the meagreness of the contributions by all governments but particularly so by the largest economy of them all – the United Kingdom. CFTC now gets only
0.07 per cent of the total budget of Britain’s Department for International Development. Yet British Ministers expound the value of the Commonwealth and the opportunities it provides to Britain to expand its trade and attract investment.
Last year, the total budget for the Secretariat and CFTC was £45.8 million of which the Secretariat’s was £16.1 million and CFTC’s was £29.7. The total Budget was reduced by £2 million from the previous year, and this year not only is there zero growth in the Secretariat Budget, but the British government has decided to reduce its voluntary contributions to CFTC.

 This problem is worsened by the decision of the Canadian Prime Minister “to review Canada’s financial contributions to Commonwealth programmes and the Commonwealth Secretariat”.
All this has arisen because of a loss of confidence and trust between governments themselves and between governments and the Secretariat. This is why Commonwealth governments at the highest levels must now give urgent attention to the disharmony that has developed in the association over adherence to the values for which the Commonwealth says it stands.
Sri Lanka CHOGM: Commonwealth’s fate or future?
If the Summit in Sri Lanka is to be meaningful, Heads of Government must set up machinery to address this issue urgently and credibly. It will call for careful diplomatic stage-managing by the Secretary-General, and transparent and open chairmanship by the Sri Lankan President. Whether this can be achieved is left to be seen. But, if this matter is not tackled with urgency and credibility, the Commonwealth may well go over the cliff to disintegration on which it is now dangerously perched.
Should the Commonwealth disintegrate and die, would it matter? Several scholars on the Commonwealth feel it wouldn’t. As one of them, Stephen Chan, puts it: “If the Commonwealth did not exist, there would not be an international compulsion to invent or re-invent it”.xi But, there is also an admission that “it could be worthwhile if its principles distinguish its actions” with the proviso that “all images of the Commonwealth are tentative ones until that is done”.xii
As a practical matter, no other association of countries brings together governments and non-governmental organisations from every continent in the world that have a voice in almost every regional and multilateral grouping in the world including the G7, the G20, NATO and a host of multilateral organisations such as the Organisation for Co-operation in Economic Development, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, the Organisation of American States, the African Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations. The potential of a collective Commonwealth outreach into these and other international groups remain of enormous value.

If the Commonwealth can remain cohesive, rooted in the values that authenticates it within its member states and in the international community, by managing and harmonising the diversity of its membership, it can continue to play a vital role in the future as it did in the past by fighting racism in Southern Africa, by promoting North-South co-operation and by intellectual thinking on climate change, gender equality and social justice. As early as 1971, in their Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, Commonwealth countries stated that they were
“convinced that the Commonwealth is one of the most fruitful associations” for “international co-operation (that) is essential to remove the causes of war, promote tolerance, combat injustice and secure development among the peoples of the world”. That declaration remains valid today.
Neither Commonwealth countries nor the international community can afford to see the Commonwealth disintegrate and disappear.
You, the members of the Bristol Commonwealth Society, on this 100th anniversary of your
Charter, have contributed to the Commonwealth’s success by your belief in it, and your work for it. Your hundredth anniversary is a bright star that shines a light of faith and hope on what now looks like a gloomy Commonwealth prospect.
But, the Commonwealth has faced other obstacles in the past, and has overcome them. It has done so because people like you have never lost faith in it, and have urged your governments not to lose sight of the possibilities and opportunities that the Commonwealth presents; to remain steadfast in their support of it; and to be alert to the contribution to human improvement that it can make. I know that on this 100th anniversary, the Society will commit itself to remain committed for another hundred years.
i Report of a statement made in Colombo, Sri Lanks by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights on 31 August 2013, in Sir Lanka Brief, 3 September 2013, (accessed 30 September 2013)
ii Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, issued on 7 October 2013 by the PMO Press Office, Ottawa, (accessed 8 October 2013)
iiiJohn Baird, Canadian Foreign Minister, Why we’re boycotting the Sri Lanka summit, in Ipolitics, October 11 2013, on 11 October 1013)
iv Op.cit., note ii
v See, A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform, The Report of the Eminent Persons Group to Commonwealth Heads of Government, Perth 2011, p.117, Commonwealth Secretariat, London. The argument to abolish the position of Chair-in-Office and the Troika can be seen from p 117 to 120.
vi The exceptions to this are Mozambique, Cameroon and Rwanda whose membership of the Commonwealth is not based on traditional criteria.
viiFor a deeper discussion of this matter, see Ronald Sanders, The Commonwealth and China: Upholding values, containing the dragon?,The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, June 2013
viiiSee, Gambian president says gays a threat to human existence, by Michelle Nicholas at the United Nations for Reuters, 27 September 2013, idUSBRE98Q19K20130927(accessed on 30 September 2013); also, Gambia president threatens to behead gays, in Al Aarbiya News, Tuesday, 2 November 2010, (accessed 30 September 2013)
ix Trevor Grundy report on 8 October 2013 of an interview with Nana Grey-Johnson, Gambian Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure with the Zambia- based monthly magazine The Bulletin and Record (shared by email with the Commonwealth Journalists Association).
x See, Human Rights and Democracy; The 2012 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report,
xi Stephen Chan, The Commonwealth in World Politics: A Study of International Action 1965 to 1985, Lester Crook Academic Publishing, London 1988, p.72 and James Mayal,l Emeritus Fellow in International Relations at Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge, quoted in How exactly does the Commonwealth work anyway? by Jen Gerson, The National Post, Canada, 7 October 2013, does-the-commonwealth-work-anyway/(accessed 8 October 2013)
xiiStephen Chan, Ibid. 
The Inaugural Lecture marking
The 100th Anniversary of the Charter of the Bristol Commonwealth Society
At the Mansion House, Bristol
On Saturday 12 October 2013
In the presence of
Mrs Mary Prior MBE JP
Lord Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol
The Lord Mayor Councillor Faruk Choudhury

1 Sir Ronald Sanders is a former member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (2010-2011) that produced the report for the 2011 Heads of Government Meeting on urgent reform of the Commonwealth;); he has participated in several Meetings of Commonwealth Senior Officials and Heads of Government; he served a member of the Commonwealth Committee Southern Africa (1984-1987) and as an adviser to the Commonwealth Secretariat/World Bank on small states(2000); and is the author of several publications on the Commonwealth.
The author is grateful for statistical data provided by Dr Mohamed Razzaque and Tsung-Ping Chung of the Commonwealth Secretariat, but stresses that the analysis provided in the Lecture and its conclusions are entirely his responsibility
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