The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to 2.5 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty-one of its members are small states, many of which are island nations.The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, supports Commonwealth member countries to achieve development, democracy and peace. It helps to strengthen governance, build inclusive institutions and promote justice and human rights. Its work helps to grow economies and boost trade, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality. It also provides training and technical assistance and support decision-makers to draw up legislation and deliver policies.
The Commonwealth is often described as a 'family' of nations. At the heart of this family are three intergovernmental organizations:
- The Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to achieve the Commonwealth's aims. This website is run by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
- The Commonwealth Foundation supports people's participation in democracy and development.
- The Commonwealth of Learning promotes open learning and distance education.
The international headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation are located in Marlborough House on Pall Mall in London.
Commonwealth member countries are also supported by a network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil, cultural and professional organizations