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Guide to government

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent states, nearly all of which were once British territories. There are 54 members.

The Commonwealth represents a combined population of 1.7 billion people

The organisation promotes democracy, the rule of law, good governance and human rights, as well as economic and social development. Comprising nearly one-third of the world's countries, it represents a combined population of 1.7 billion people.

The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth and is Head of State in the UK and 15 other member countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat, based in London, is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth. It helps host governments to organise Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), which take place every two years.

It also helps organise ministerial meetings and other conferences. It administers assistance programmes agreed at these meetings, including those of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, which provides expertise, advisory services and training to Commonwealth developing countries.


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