The Commonwealth of Reconciliation
The Commonwealth is an organization that holds historical roots in the British Empire, and it is in that legacy that we find one of the most challenging subjects for the Commonwealth to face. Reconciling the origins of the Commonwealth with its modern principles and values is critical to ensure the Commonwealth continues to help the countries impacted by colonialism to write a new future for themselves.
The modern Commonwealth is a voluntary association of states that share common values. The principles of the Commonwealth Charter are vital in creating the dialogue and discussion that is necessary for reconciliation to take place. These conversations about governance and equality are taking place at the highest levels of international governance through the Commonwealth Summit (formerly known as Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings) and championed by civil societies like the RCS to become universally accessible for Commonwealth Citizens.
Today, the Commonwealth is an organization that centers on undoing this legacy and healing the wounds of colonialism not only through dialogue but also using shared resources and institutions. The Commonwealth helps vulnerable nations by advising them on trade policy, supporting their democratic and legal institutions through knowledge sharing and independent monitoring, and promoting the protection of constitutional rights for minorities and vulnerable populations.
It is crucial for the Commonwealth and organizations like the RCS to champion reconciliation as a front and centre priority for our organization. It is only in acknowledging injustice that we can heal it and prove that the Commonwealth is an organization worth believing in.
Former RCS Chair, Greg Munro on advancing reconciliation through RCS.
Why the Commonwealth?
- The RCS and other groups are well placed civil society organizations for facilitating sensitive government dialogue on reconciliation
- Shared legislature structures allow countries to provide support for legal reconciliation (Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute or Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)
- The Commonwealth Reconciliation Roundtable Report’s (2013) objective was to foster a stronger understanding of the core elements of effective and sustainable reconciliation, which include truth, justice, and accountability, and can guide future work
- The Commonwealth Games, the friendly games, provide an ideal channel in which to promote the principles and values of the Commonwealth. The 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games included a Reconciliation Action Plan
- The Commonwealth Peace and Reconciliation Network brings together an interdisciplinary collective of academics, researchers and professional staff from more than 40 universities across the Commonwealth, who work in the fields of peace, truth, justice, and reconciliation.