Danny Sriskandarajah

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The Gambia has declared that it is withdrawing from the Commonwealth, a "neocolonial institution", according to the country's president, Yahya Jammeh. No further reasons were given, but the decision may well be related to the poor relationship between Jammeh and the UK. He's accused Britain of backing his political opposition, and this year the Foreign Office criticised the Gambia's human rights record.

Inevitably, the spotlight now shines on an association which grew out of empire and managed to re-invent itself as a values-based club that, according to Jawaharlal Nehru, brought a "touch of healing" to the world.

Since the modern Commonwealth was created in 1949, every former British colony – and some others like Mozambique and Rwanda – has decided to join.…  Seguir leyendo »

The allegations in Saturday's Guardian that the Commonwealth secretariat has abandoned its commitment to defend human rights could not have come at a worse time. Bad press around the Delhi games had already led to questions about what the Commonwealth is for these days, and this news potentially undermines the very thing that sets the association apart.

If the Commonwealth is to survive in the 21st century, it needs to show that it stands for something more than its ties to the old empire. The obvious choice, reaffirmed most recently when leaders met late last year, is a commitment to "fundamental values and principles" around human rights and democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »