About The Royal Commonwealth Society
The Royal Commonwealth Society is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world.
Founded in 1868, the Society is constituted by Royal Charter (amended 2013) and is registered as a charity. It is non-partisan, is independent of governments and is supported solely by public generosity.
The Society engages with its youth, civil society, business and governmental networks to address issues that matter to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Its primary focus is the promotion of young people throughout the Commonwealth. We champion human rights, democracy and sustainable development across the 53 member states which are intrinsically linked through their common history and shared values.
In partnership with other organisations, the RCS campaigns on behalf of Commonwealth citizens to promote human rights and sustainable development. The Society has recently campaigned to end early and forced marriage, to secure equal rights for marginalised groups and to highlight environmental issues in Commonwealth countries.
Recognising the demographic importance and potential of young people in the Commonwealth, the RCS promotes youth interchange and skill-sharing and encourages the voice and leadership of young people around the world. It creates opportunities for youth through projects such as the Commonwealth Essay Competition and Commonwealth youth leadership programmes.
The Society acts as the Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Commonwealth, and the Council of Commonwealth Societies (CCS). It acts as a focal point for the London-based diplomatic community to promote dialogue around Commonwealth values.
The RCS runs events and roundtables across the Commonwealth in support of policy development and advocacy campaigns. It organises the biggest celebration of the Commonwealth and its values, each year, in a week of engaging events, the foremost of which is the multi-faith Commonwealth Day Observance in Westminster Abbey.
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
The RCS regularly produces carefully researched and thought-provoking publications such as: The Commonwealth Conversation (2009); Trading Places, the ‘Commonwealth Effect’ Revisited (2010); Because You’re a Girl: Growing up in the Commonwealth (2011); Commonwealth Compared 2013: Setting the Scene (2013)
WORK Celebrating cultural differences
- Acting as a champion to identify areas for positive social, environmental and economic change and building on the shared values and aspirations that continue to unite citizens across the Commonwealth
- Operating at the forefront of Commonwealth affairs, the Society works to improve the lives and prospects of individuals by:
- Developing dialogue and building partnerships with organisations for the well-being and prosperity of individuals
- Empowering young people and providing a pan-Commonwealth framework for inspirational youth leadership programmes
Further information: www.thercs.org
The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political association of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations. In 1949 the association we know today – The Commonwealth – came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined The Commonwealth. Membership today is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation. The last two countries to join The Commonwealth – Rwanda and Mozambique – have no historical ties to the British Empire
The Commonwealth was founded in 1949 and currently has 53 member countries. They represent over 2 billion people; over 30% of the world’s population
Originally consisting of former colonies of the British Empire, the Commonwealth is now bound together by shared values such as democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The Commonwealth undertakes the bulk of its work in the promotion of these values and in local capacity building to support them in member countries. The Commonwealth’s members span Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas, Caribbean, and the Pacific.
Many Commonwealth members are small. Some are isolated island states, while others, such as India and Malaysia, are large industrialised countries. Many are impoverished and face significant economic and other developmental challenges
Activities include the Commonwealth Games, Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association, the Commonwealth Press Union and the Council for Education in the Commonwealth
The vulnerability and development level of many member nations has also seen the Commonwealth begin to emerge as a platform for the developing world on such critical topics as access to affluent markets for agricultural produce and in climate change
The work of the Commonwealth can include:
- Election observance and democracy building
- Journalism exchanges and support for a free press
- Gender rights programmes
- Promotion of human rights and support for health and education programmes, including the provision of technical experts from other nations