A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

13
Rediscovery and the Generation
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The creation of the C-Mag to give the Commonwealth some teeth, the suspension of Nigeria and the partial suspension of Sierra Leone, Pakistan and Fiji came after a period of appraisal and reawakening. This suggests that the 1990s was a period of renaissance for the Commonwealth. This prompted interest in some quite surprising quarters. The rediscovery was spearheaded in Britain by the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. After 18 months’ study, its report on The Future of the Commonwealth (FAC Report) was published in March 1996. 1 Elsewhere there were further reports and seminars which made similar examinations into the relevance of the Commonwealth and came up with very similar conclusions about its strengths and weaknesses. If the early 1990s were the years of the H-lag and Secretariat restructuring, the later 1990s became a time for critical outside scrutiny of the Commonwealth’s overall utility and image.

The FAC Report was discussed by a somewhat critical seminar at the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICS) on 4–5 June 1997 and by a debate in the House of Commons on 27 June. A report of the ICS seminar, Reassessing the Commonwealth, was published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in 1997. 2 Meanwhile, two further enquiries were set in motion by the Secretary-General and gave rise to much quoted reports. In June 1995, Professor Tom Symons, former President of Trent University, Ontario, Canada, was commissioned to consider Commonwealth Studies at the tertiary level. The Symons Report, Learning From Each Other appeared in 1997. 3 The other enquiry was into the Secretariat’s information services with a view to sharpening the image of the Commonwealth. This had been called for initially by the Scosc in 1995 and was conducted by

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