NOTE: This article is based off a draft I made at a Canadian border office (enjoying the hospitality of the Canadian Border Security Agency) while waiting for my turn at Passport Control:
Today is Commonwealth Day, which is a Canadian invention and is celebrated typically by recalling the things that hold us together as a Commonwealth. These are typically our values including human rights, democracy, free elections, opposition to tyranny, while still remaining an open and free society. It is unfortunate though, that our emphasis is primarily historical, as the future of the Commonwealth is a subject we may not always be interested in or a nettle we wish to grasp, especially following its politicisation following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Sometimes we may look at the human rights issues across our countries, and the issues we all face, pretend we will do something about it; proclaim that the Commonwealth is important in the 21st Century and then promptly forget about it.
But what else can we look forward to?
Can we dream of a better future?
Is this truly all we can do?
Do we have dream that we can turn into reality? They need not be big steps, but the first step we need to realise that the Commonwealth is not something locked in a long-lost past. It is our birthright and something we can build going forward.
The first article published on the Daily Globe was that the world needed the UK. More than ever it needs the Commonwealth – or rather what the Commonwealth can be: To stand up for the smaller, weaker nations in the face of a changing American foriegn policy, and the rise and expanding of undemocratic, threatening and illiberal powers who seek to undermine all that we have fought for and built.
If there ever was a time for a group of nations to robustly stand up to international bullies and expansionist empire building, it is now. Separately, there is little we can do, but united we are stronger: domestically, economically, defensively, and in relation to human rights and development. There is a pair of examples that come close to home for most of our readers that spring to mind:
1. Economically, we can all be treated unfairly by the EU. Tariffs, quotas, non-tariff barriers to trade, restrictions to trading with the Common Market is something all 53 nations know all too well.
2. Threatening actions by a local power: It is not just the UK were citizens have been assassinated on our streets by foreign powers, though fortunately to the best of my knowledge, no other has faced both nuclear and chemical attacks by a foreign state in the past 12 years. Yet many nations are threatened in other methods and fashions and their citizens are concerned.
In both these cases, we are stronger, richer and better off working together for the Common good, without the need for bureaucratic empire builders trying to usurp power. And this year’s Heads of Government Meeting in London in April is an opportunity not to be missed.
Where shall we go, friends? What is our goal or dream for this Commonwealth Day? We at the Commonwealth, Realms & CANZUK Campaign and our affiliated organisations will continue to push for the goals we have outlined, but what are your goals?
Please make suggestions and comment below what you would like to see in the Commonwealth of Nations, and somewhat closer to home, here at the CRCC.
Let us go forwards Together!
All of us at the CRCC wish you a Happy Commonwealth Day.