Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Commonwealth of Nations
Mains level: Impact of regime change in Maldives on India
Maldives applies to rejoin
- The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September.
- Yameen earlier withdrew the Maldives from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent.
- The new president’s administration believed in the values of the bloc, which consists mainly of former territories and colonies of the British Empire.
Impact of regime change
- The Maldives’ interest in re-joining the Commonwealth stems from a deep conviction that the values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter are more vital than ever.
- The former accused the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat of interfering in the nation’s affairs.
- During Yameen’s reign, the US had repeatedly warned democracy was under serious threat in the strategically-located archipelago sitting on key international shipping lanes.
- After Solih’s election, political prisoners have been freed and opposition figures in exile have returned home.
- Solih has expressed “dire” economic crisis in the Maldives and asked regional power India for help. Yameen had drifted closer to China and the Maldives saw its foreign debt balloon under his leadership.
Commonwealth of Nations
- The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.
- The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonization of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.
- It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nation through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalized by the UK through the Statute of Westminster in 1931.
- The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernized the community, and established the member states as “free and equal”.
- The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Head of the Commonwealth.
- The Queen is head of state of 16 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 32 other members are republics and five others have different monarchs.
- The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.
- Member have no legal obligations to one another. Instead, they are united by language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.