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Timeline: The Commonwealth


Timeline: The Commonwealth
A chronology of key events:

1926 - Imperial Conference: UK and its dominions agree they are “equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Commonwealth leaders

Commonwealth dropped allegiance to the crown from its statute

1930 – First Commonwealth Games held in Hamilton, Canada.

1931 – British parliament enacts the Statute of Westminster, which proclaims the Commonwealth a free association of self-governing dominions united by a common allegiance to the British Crown.

1949 – Commonwealth prime ministers issue the London Declaration, which changes membership from one based on common allegiance to the British Crown to one in which members agree to recognise the British monarch as head of the Commonwealth, rather than as their head of state.

1961 – South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth after it is criticised by many members for its apartheid policies.

1965 – Commonwealth Secretariat set up in London.

1971 – Singapore Declaration of shared principles is adopted; it includes commitments to individual liberty, freedom from racism, peace, economic and social development, and international cooperation.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth in 2003

1977 – Adoption of Gleneagles Agreement discouraging sporting contacts with South Africa because of its apartheid policies.

1979 – Lusaka Declaration on Racism and Racial Prejudice issued.

1987 – Fiji suspended from Commonwealth following the overthrow of its government.

1991 – Harare Declaration adds democracy, good government and human rights to the Commonwealth’s shared principles.

1994 – South Africa rejoins the Commonwealth following the end of apartheid.

1995 – Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) set up to deal with persistent and serious violators of the Commonwealth’s shared principles; Nigeria suspended from the Commonwealth after it sentenced to death the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and a group of fellow activists.

1997 – Fiji reinstated after it adopts new constitution more in line with Commonwealth’s shared principles.

1999 May – Nigeria reinstated after its return to civilian rule.

1999 October – Pakistan suspended because of military take-over.

2000 – Fiji suspended again after a coup by rebel leader George Speight. It is readmitted in December 2001.

2001 October – Commonwealth ministers visiting Zimbabwe say they think the government has done little to honour commitments to end a crisis over seizures of white-owned land.

Former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan was suspended after 1999 coup, readmitted in 2004, suspended again in 2007 and readmitted in 2008

2002 March – Zimbabwe is suspended for a year over President Robert Mugabe’s controversial re-election. A Commonwealth observer group had strongly condemned the conduct of the poll, though observers from other African countries endorsed the elections as “transparent, free and fair”.

2003 March – Zimbabwe’s suspension extended to December 2003.

2003 December – Zimbabwe’s suspension extended indefinitely. Zimbabwean government responds by announcing country is pulling out of Commonwealth for good.

2004 May – Pakistan readmitted.

2006 December – Fiji’s membership is suspended over a military coup.

2007 November – Pakistan is suspended for a second time after President Musharraf declares a state of emergency and sacks top judges.

2008 May – Pakistan’s suspension is lifted; Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group says the government has taken positive steps to fulfil its obligations.

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