In this occasional feature, the National Post tells you everything you need to know about a complicated issue. Today, Jen Gerson explains the Commonwealth in the wake of Stephen Harper’s decision to boycott an upcoming leaders’ meeting in Sri Lanka because of the host country’s human rights abuses:
What is the Commonwealth exactly?
The Commonwealth is a voluntary coalition of 54 states representing a global population of 2.2 billion people that ostensibly share a set of common values and ideals. Gambia’s defection last week — its president called it a “neo-colonial institution” — will reduce it to 53 nations. Most members have an historic relationship with the British Empire. Originally a “British Commonwealth of Nations,” the Commonwealth is an acknowledgement of a shared history and traditional trade links between member states. The relationship is acknowledged every four years with the Commonwealth Games, and every two years with meetings of political leaders…
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