A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

19
Professional Associations

In his final report as Secretary-General in 1999 Chief Anyaoku mentioned what he called the ‘people’s Commonwealth’. It was a dimension he had cherished throughout his term. His first review, in 1991, was not, he then said, ‘just of inter-governmental cooperation, but of the whole Commonwealth’. In 1993, his appointment of an NGO Liaison Officer recognised the significance of ‘the “people’s Commonwealth” of non-governmental organisations’. 1 The liaison officer was describing his role in 2000 as working with the voluntary organisations that ‘form an important part of what is called “the people’s Commonwealth” … an association of peoples linked by ties of friendship and mutual support’. 2

The concept – even the appellation – was not new. As far back as 1920, Duncan Hall, in his seminal book, The British Commonwealth of Nations, provided an appendix on inter-imperial voluntary associations. In 1963, a fellow Australian, Lord Casey, called for an ‘organised system of personal contacts’. In the following year the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) convened a seminar for nearly 40 organisations which sent a manifesto to Heads of Government reminding them that ‘Far too little is known about existing links uniting the governments, the professions, the universities, commerce and industry throughout the Commonwealth.’ 3

The creation of the Commonwealth Foundation in 1966 was the first serious attempt to foster these linkages. The American political scientist Margaret Ball, in her valuable book The ‘Open’ Commonwealth (1971) admitted she found the voluntary network so extensive ‘as to defy description’. Yet Professor Bruce Miller (another Australian) attempted in his 1974 ‘Chatham House Survey’ to do justice to the Commonwealth ‘as an assembly of peoples as well as an association

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