The Commonwealth is one of the world's oldest political association of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain's monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations. In 1949 the association we know today - The Commonwealth - came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined The Commonwealth.
Membership today is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation and there are currently 53 independent countries. The last two countries to join The Commonwealth - Rwanda and Mozambique - have no historical ties to the British Empire.
The Commonwealth includes some of the world's largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, spanning five regions. Thirty-one of its members are small states, many of them island nations. It is home to 2.2 billion citizens and over 60% of these are under the age of 30. Member states have no legal obligation to one another. Instead, they are united by language, history, culture, and their shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The Commonwealth's guiding principles are in its Charter: www.thecommonwealth.org/our-charter.
The Commonwealth's policies are shaped by its member countries, who have an equal say on decisions affecting them. The Commonwealth organisations put these decisions and plans into action.
The Commonwealth organisations are involved in diverse activities, from helping countries with trade negotiations to encouraging women's leadership, building the small business sector, supporting youth participation at all levels of society and providing experts to write laws.
You will find more information about The Commonwealth at www.thecommonwealth.org.
About The Commonwealth iLibrary
The Commonwealth Secretariat's publications are a key part of the organisation's mission to work as a trusted partner for all Commonwealth people as a force for peace, democracy, equality and good governance; a catalyst for global consensus-building; and a source of assistance for sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Every year, The Commonwealth publishes around 30 new titles on a range of topics in which it has particular insight and expertise, especially concerning small states, including;
- globalisation and multilateral trade issues
- export and enterprise development
- public service management and reform
- law and human rights
For the first time, these publications are now available online in a single research repository, The Commonwealth iLibrary at www.thecommonwealth-ilibrary.org.
Titles are organised by series, year and alphabetically, and search and discovery of complete publications or even their components - articles and chapters - is a click away. The content is accessible in different formats, PDF and READ, to meet users' needs, the latter optimised for reading on mobile devices and sharing via social networks.
The Commonwealth iLibrary Content
At launch in September 2014, the catalogue contains more than 2 200 items including 177 books, 1 948 chapters and 125 working papers.
The back catalogue of 700 titles will be digitised and added to the collection in the coming months, some of which will also be available at the chapter level.
The Commonwealth publishes around 30 new books per year on different topics such as:
- Agriculture and Food
- Finance and Investment
- Industry and Services
- Social Issues/Migration/Health
The Commonwealth iLibrary: Who is it for?
The Commonwealth iLibrary offers a wide range of content for all types of users.
It is primarily designed for:
- Universities and Research Organisations
- Governments and Parliaments
- Non-governmental Organisations