The Commonwealth and Democracy: Hazards of Harare

Commonwealth leaders are once again gathering with one of their number caught in damaging disputes over democracy and the rule of law. In 1995 it was Nigeria in trouble, this year it is Zimbabwe

The World Today
3 minute READ

James Mayall

It was Nigeria that hosted talks to try to settle the current dispute. The resulting agreement could be a diplomatic triumph for the organisation, or it might turn out to be no more than temporary face-saving. What chance then for an agenda that promises continuity and renewal in an organisation often poorly understood?

Between heads of government meetings every two years, the activities of the Commonwealth are rarely reported, and its role in international relations is frequently either ignored or misunderstood. For Commonwealth states, however, membership represents good value for money. Even those that have had their membership suspended – Gambia, Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone – have rejoined at the first opportunity.

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