A Commonwealth of Diversity

Equality and respect for protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all – without discrimination on any grounds – ... are foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies.

~ Commonwealth Secretariat

This course is designed on the basis of the core values and principles of a remarkable organisation—the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent sovereign states, bound together not only by shared history and tradition but also by an ethos of respect for all states and peoples, of shared values and principles, and of concern for the vulnerable.

Commonwealth of Nations map

The Commonwealth was once an empire run by a colonial power. As the British colonies, or dependencies of these colonies, emerged from colonialism, they developed a unique model of how the world’s peoples can live together after conflict and exploitation.

The Commonwealth has slowly put together a supporting framework of social and humanitarian principles that have enabled very different nations to live co-operatively. Your fellow students taking this course could be from any of the Commonwealth member countries. Their homes could be in developed or developing countries, large or small in size and population, landlocked or island states, and located in Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Caribbean, Europe, North America or the South Pacific.

While all your fellow students will be able to read and speak English, it is probably not their first language. Almost two billion people live in the Commonwealth, making up nearly one-third of the world’s population. They represent many different religions, races, languages and cultures. You might ask: ‘What brings us together? What values do we share as countries or as individuals?’

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh thinks that “the strength of our Commonwealth lies in its unity of vision of pluralism, liberalism, democracy and political institutions amid the diversity in race, ethnicity and religion."