A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

14
Globalisation, Small States and
Regionalism

Although the Commonwealth encompasses a quarter of the world’s peoples, it is not a large player as an international entity. This was vividly illustrated by three meetings which preceded the final Chogm of the twentieth century in 1999. They each highlighted the limitations to the association’s role in world affairs.

First, the second Commonwealth Business Forum met in Johannesburg from 9 to 11 November 1999, to discuss the theme ‘Making Globalisation Work’. The Forum’s report to Heads of Government outlined conditions necessary for the private sector to help achieve what it called ‘globalisation with equity’. Second, the Ministerial Group on Small States held its fourth meeting in Durban on 11 November 1999 on the eve of the Chogm. Like the Business Forum, it too tackled the question of globalisation. It pointed, in particular, to the ‘transitional costs of integrating small states into a more globalised economy’. Third, on the same day, came the C-Mag meeting. As well as dealing with the straightforward cases of Nigeria’s return and Pakistan’s partial suspension, it reported on the tragic situation in Sierra Leone, where the restoration of civilian rule in 1996 had been twice subverted by dissident military groups. Here, Commonwealth endeavours had largely failed. Peace initiatives in the civil war had been the work of neighbouring countries through a regional agency, ECOMOG (the Economic Community of West African States’ Monitoring Group), largely comprising Nigerian army units. These three themes – globalisation, the vulnerability of small states and the importance of regional organisations – mark the main features of the international environment in which the Commonwealth has to find its niche.

‘Globalisation’ is a word as yet absent from many dictionaries. Chambers gets as far as ‘globalism’ – the position which puts world

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