Fifty-three countries, including Guyana, will today, Monday, March 12, 2018 celebrate Commonwealth Day under the theme ‘Towards a common Future’. In recognition of this observance, we decided to share with you an explanation of what the Commonwealth is and its relevance.
Characteristics of the Commonwealth
The most striking characteristic of the Commonwealth is its diversity. The total population of the Commonwealth countries is over 2.3 billion. Sixteen Commonwealth countries recognise Her Majesty the Queen of England as their Head of State. Five members of the Commonwealth have Heads of State who are Monarchs. Thirty three are republics and each has its own Head of State who is usually a President.
The Commonwealth is not a political union or an economic union, but a union built on a shared history and shared values. Membership is voluntary and comprises of Countries large and small, rich and poor, all of which have equal voices in the Commonwealth. All decisions are taken by consensus. Most Commonwealth Countries were formerly part of the British Empire, but two countries without such links, Mozambique and Rwanda, have joined the Commonwealth and several others are actively pursuing membership.
Values of the Commonwealth
The values of the Commonwealth have evolved from its history, the period of decolonisation, the experience of dictatorship and military rule in a number of Commonwealth countries in the 1960s and 1970s, the Commonwealth’s many wars and ethnic conflicts, and the fight against governments based on racial discrimination.
The Commonwealth Family
Supporting the work of the governments of the Commonwealth is the “Commonwealth Family”, over one hundred international associations that bring together individuals from Commonwealth countries to promote exchanges of experience, knowledge and ideas. One such association is the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which was founded in 1911. It is an association of Commonwealth Parliamentarians who, irrespective of race, religion or culture, are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and human rights and freedoms, and the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy. Each Country has its own branch of this Association in which the Speaker of the particular Legislative body is Chairman, and the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition both serve as vice-chairmen.
The Guyana Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in recognition of
Commonwealth Day 2018 will join with the rest of the Commonwealth in celebrating by hosting an exhibition and a short programme on this year’s theme “Towards a Common Future” at the Umana Yana on Monday, 12th March, 2018, at 4.00 p.m. The Parliament Office, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the University of Guyana, has invited schools from the eleven education districts in Guyana and the University of Guyana to create and exhibit projects that will encourage citizens to protect the environment and to combat climate change. Some other activities will take place after Commonwealth Day 2018. There will be a distribution of Prizes for the Poster and Essay Competitions for Commonwealth Day 2017 which will be held on Tuesday, 13th March, 2018 and the Presentation of the Commonwealth Tree which was planted in observance of Commonwealth Day 2013 in the compound of the Public Buildings on Thursday, 15th March, 2018.
We wish all Guyana Happy Commonwealth Day 2018!