Is the Commonwealth really 70?

The official Commonwealth has chosen to mark 2019 as its 70th birthday. This follows a common tendency to date the emergence of the modern Commonwealth from the 'London Declaration' of April 1949, which formed the basis for India remaining in the organisation as a republic. But on what grounds can the London conference of 1949 be regarded as having witnessed the Commonwealth invention (or even its re-invention)? Did those involved in the conference imagine that they were introducing a significant innovation, and did they characterise its outcome in terms of change or continuity. Is the insistence that the Commonwealth is only 70 years old a conscious attempt to distance it from the legacy of the British Empire? And are there other, more significant developments from which one might date the genesis of the Commonwealth? 

  • Lorna Lloyd (University of Keele)
  • Harshan Kumarasingham (University of Edinburgh)
  • Philip Murphy (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
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