A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

Preface

My intention in this book is to provide a fresh guide to the contemporary Commonwealth. The need for such a book has been a constant refrain in numerous reviews of Commonwealth activities over the past ten years. My main concern is to highlight critical questions of balance that emerged at the start of the new century as between the relative roles of governments and official agencies, voluntary associations and the private business sector.

The first part of the book briefly summarises the evolution of the Commonwealth for those unfamiliar with the background. The main body of the book looks at the association’s symbols; political consultations and values; shared inter-governmental agencies; the huge voluntary field of endeavour known as ‘the People’s Commonwealth’ including sport; and the rising expectations now laid on private business.

I started writing the book in Ottawa during 1998 while I held a T. H. B. Symons Fellowship in Commonwealth Studies tenable at Carleton University and I offer grateful thanks to the Association of Commonwealth Universities for this award. Special thanks are due to Anne and Norman Hillmer, who arranged accommodation and computer facilities, and David Farr, who organised introductions, and each of whom in so many ways made the time in Ottawa so pleasant and productive. Affectionate acknowledgements are offered to the ever-helpful staff at the Public Record Office, Kew, London; the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa; the New Zealand Archives, Wellington, and the University of Canterbury Library, Christchurch, New Zealand. The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth of Learning, and the former Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux (now CAB-International, a stand-alone international organisation) have all been extremely generous in granting interviews and supplying documentary material. The same is true for numberless voluntary organisations. My thanks to Ian Catanach and Ian Wards for perceptive criticisms of earlier drafts. For Marcia McIntyre my admiration and gratitude for mastering word processing skills to cope with my secretary-less state, for stylistic suggestions and much else cannot be adequately expressed.

-IX-

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