– The Commonwealth is a group of countries that support each other. They have common views on democracy and often work together to obtain these shared goals.
– Most members of the Commonwealth were once members of the British Empire, although a few outside countries have joined. Membership is voluntary. The Commonwealth has no power over its members, although it can suspend membership.
– The Queen is the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth is based on three core values:
- Good Government
- The Rule of Law
– Members of the Commonwealth are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Brunei Darussalam
- Fiji (currently suspended)
- The Gambia
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
The European Union
– The European Union (EU) was originally called the European Economic Community (EEC).
– It was founded on 25 March, 1957 by six western European countries that signed the Treaty of Rome:
- The Netherlands
– The UK originally decided not to join this group but became a member in 1973.
– EU law is binding in the UK and all other EU member states. EU laws are called directives, regulations or framework decisions.
– There are now 27 member states in the EU. Croatia will become a member in 2013.
- Czech Republic
Other International Groups
– The Council of Europe
- The Council of Europe is separate from the EU
- It is primarily responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights in its member countries
- It has no power to make laws. Instead it creates conventions and charters. The most well-known of these is the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, usually called the European Convention on Human Rights.
– The United Nations
- The UN is an international organization with over 190 members, 150 of which are on the UN Security Council.
- It was set up after World War II. Its goals are to prevent war and promote international peace.
- The UK is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
– The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- NATO is a group of European and North American countries that have agreed to aid each other if one of them should come under attack.
- It also aims to promote peace between its members.