The Commonwealth in the World

The Commonwealth in the World

The Commonwealth in the World

The Commonwealth in the World

Excerpt

This book is about the Commonwealth of Nations in the world of sovereign states. It is concerned with the nature and status of the Commonwealth as an international entity, and with the policies of its members towards one another and towards countries outside the Commonwealth. Since the members are treated in their capacity as sovereign states, there is little or no reference to their internal constitutional development, although there is some discussion of how they came to exercise the rights of sovereign states in the field of foreign policy.

Treatment such as this is appropriate to the present stage of Commonwealth development, but it may seem strange to those people in Britain and in other parts of the Commonwealth who do not separate the "sovereign" from the "colonial" elements in Commonwealth affairs. Because all the other Commonwealth members used to be British dependencies, and because Britain still has a number of dependencies to be granted self-government, it is natural that many British people should not recognise the profound difference in status between the sovereign states which, with Britain, make up the Commonwealth, and the colonies which are still Britain's responsibility. An Australian and a West Indian, a Canadian and a Rhodesian, are often treated without distinction: they all come from "the Commonwealth". Of course, there is something to be said for this treatment. The dependencies of Commonwealth members are included in the circle of the Commonwealth by virtue of their metropolitan country's membership; this applies to Papua and Samoa, which are Australian and New Zealand dependencies, as much as to the British colonies. But in political terms the difference between the relationship in which Australia and New Zealand stand to Britain, and that in which colonial territories stand, is very great. Britain's fellow-members in the Commonwealth have wills of their own and the opportunity to exert those wills; they have foreign policies which Britain must take into account. A colony, on the other hand, cannot have a foreign policy; no matter how rich or populous it may be, and no matter how much discretion is delegated to its administrators, it is . . .

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