Disband the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Nations must be disbanded immediately. It is nothing but a pathetic attempt to console Britain for the loss of its empire, which oppressed hundreds of millions of people around the world. It had no business existing at the time of its founding, and it certainly has no business existing now. 

The most populous country in the Commonwealth, India, has a larger economy than the United Kingdom, and India’s lead over Britain will only grow larger in the coming decades. It is absurd that Britain still chairs an organization with India when India’s economy will be more than double that of Britain’s in the near future. 

The King’s English

A brief look at the official webpage for the Commonwealth makes clear the inherent flaws of the organization. One of the criteria for joining is “an applicant country should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions, such as the use of the English language as the medium of inter-Commonwealth relations, and acknowledge His Majesty King Charles III as the Head of the Commonwealth.”

Linguistic imperialism is abundantly clear in this declaration. Despite the wide diversity of languages among the countries in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth makes English (the language that was imposed on most of these countries during colonialism) the requisite language of communication.

The Commonwealth and the Crown

Further, the inequitable nature of the Commonwealth is clearly highlighted by the Head. Technically the Head of the Commonwealth is not a hereditary role, but all three Commonwealth Heads so far have been members of the British Royal Family. 

The British Royal Family is a clear symbol of Britain’s bloody imperial past. Forcing Commonwealth members to accept the head of the British Royal Family as the head of the Commonwealth perpetuates a hierarchical system with a structure similar to colonialism.  

Thus, the Commonwealth does not operate like legitimate international organizations do, where the head of the organization rotates from one country to another. 

A questionable human rights record

While the Commonwealth claims to support democracy, government, and the rule of law, it has actually provided a platform for leaders with questionable human rights records. In 2013, then-PM of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa became Commonwealth Chair-in-Office while being accused of war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War. The current Chair-in-Office for the Commonwealth is Rwandan President Paul Kagame, whose presidency has been widely regarded as authoritarian by independent observers. 

It also claims to promote peace, but mutual membership of the Commonwealth did not stop the wars between India and Pakistan nor did it stop the Uganda-Tanzania War. 

Insignificant trade benefits

Another argument that is frequently brought up to defend the Commonwealth is the trade between member nations and its ability to foster development. However, there is little evidence of any significant economic benefits that come from Commonwealth membership. There are much larger and legitimate organizations that are designed to foster economic development, such as the G77.

A particular emphasis is also placed on the Commonwealth’s alleged amplification of small nations. However, there is already an organization that addresses this. AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), formed in 1990, advocates for reductions in global emissions and provides a voice for small island nations, which tend to be particularly affected by climate change. 

Why does the Commonwealth really exist?

Thus, I must conclude that the real reason for the Commonwealth is not to support democracy, promote peace, or foster economic development. Rather, its purpose is to project British influence over other countries that became independent several decades ago. Almost all of the countries in the Commonwealth were British colonies at one point in time, and Britain conceived the idea of the Commonwealth in order to continue to project influence after the end of the British Empire. 

This is why it is imperative for Indian PM Narendra Modi to withdraw India from the Commonwealth. He has talked a great game about ridding India of the colonial mindset, stating that “When we see even the smallest thing related to colonialism in us or around us, we have to be rid of it.”

He must find a way to follow through on his statement. 

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Rakesh Peddibhotla is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is majoring in Political Science. His interests include music, exercise, and social issues.