Even in its birthplace the UK, the Commonwealth of Nations is not well appreciated. A 2012 British Government report found that, out of 100 senior influencers from media, parliament, the law and the civil service, only 25 correctly identified the Commonwealth when asked the question below. Have a read and see if you’d have picked it:
“If there was a single non-political, non-sovereign organisation, which represented almost a third of the world’s population with the stated aim of promoting democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace would you expect Britain to belong to it? Are you aware of any body that does this? – can you name one?”
How could we raise appreciation of the Commonwealth and better spread its values? In my last blog post, I discussed one way to do this, share policy experiences between societies within it. I propose creating a charity to do just that: to promote in Britain exchanges with citizens of other Commonwealth nations that involve experience sharing. The Commonwealth has already agreed a group of values important to it, the 16 items like democracy and human rights on the Commonwealth Charter. My charity will share experiences of policies that affect these values.
However, the Charter is like motherhood and apple pie: anyone might say a policy affects the values on it. To improve the quality of experience sharing, my charity will likely need to partner with think tanks and other British organisations, as it holds exchanges. It could also focus on sharing that’s credible because it involves governments changing their policies. Finally, to keep my charity focused on sharing between societies, rather than between governments, I hope to make it independent of formal Commonwealth organisations.
But wait, you say, the Commonwealth is not a neoliberal organisation. How could my charity help spread neoliberalism within it? Well, one of the values on the Commonwealth Charter is Good Governance, a term in the development industry that has its own Wikipedia page. Neoliberal's should have faith that the policies they prefer are generally the better way to run things. Very regularly, it will be neoliberal policies that involve good governance.
I can summarise my idea for a charity: Via an event partnered with say the Adam Smith Institute, would Britain and the Commonwealth benefit from people hearing about New Zealand’s efforts that almost created a ground-breaking system for recreational drugs to get official approval and be sold legally? Via an event partnered with a British legal organisation, would Britain and the Commonwealth benefit from people hearing about Sri Lankan lawyers’ attempts to safeguard the rule of law from government actions that undermine it?
If you agree with me about the potential benefits of such a charity, please get in touch. I welcome any contact, especially that you support what I’m looking to do or even that you’re keen to assist. At this early stage, you could make all the difference. Email me now!