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Qu'est-ce que le Commonwealth ? Quand a-t-il été créé ? Quels est son pouvoir aujourd'hui ? Réponses avec le professeur d'anglais Pascal.

Brève histoire de l’empire britannique

Queen Victoria (Reign : 1837-1901) : during her reign, Queen Victoria became the symbol of the expansion of British Empire.

 

During the 17th-19th centuries, the English monarchs had a strong desire to expand the power and the influence of the British crown. That’s what they did in North America, in the Caribbean, in Africa, in the India, in Pacific ocean and in Asia. The expansion was progressive but it was so massive. In 1921, it was the pic of the British Empire. The territories from all continents have been added to the British crown. For example : Canada, many islands in Caribbean like Jamaïca, Malta, Cyprus, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Fidji…

 

All these territories were not colonies :

- Hong Kong is a territory that was controlled by the British Government.

- Canada was not a colony. It was dominion. Dominion was a country that was part of the British Empire but had its own government.

- Nigeria was a colony but it was also a protectorate. Protectorate was a country that was controlled and defended by the British Crown. Dozens of territories around the globe were part of the British Empire.

 

Some historians even say that the British Empire is the largest empire in history.

La création du Commonwealth

During the XXth century, the face of British Empire change profoundly. There was majors changes in the statute of Westminster in 1931. The Britain and the Dominions (Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Eire) have agreed that they were equal memberies of the community inside the British Empire. The name of that community was the British Commonwealth of Nations.

 

The word « Commonwealth » : adjectif « common » means « joint » and « wealth » means « good ».

Definition of « Commonwealth » : Commonwealth is an association of countries that have joined together for their common good.

 

The two World Wars also contribute to questioning the power and the influence of the British Empire. Indeed, it became more and more difficult for the Crown to subpress the independance movements in its colonies and protectorates. For example, India gained its independance in 1947. So, India became a Republic but it also wanted to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. So, here comes the London Declaration in 1949 which may it possible to independant Republics to be members of the Commonwealth. The name of the organisation change from the British Commonwealth of Nations to just the Commonwealth of Nations.

 

Obviously, it was the way for Britain to maintain its links with formers territories. It was a soft acceptable transition from the British Empire to Commonwealth of Nations.

Le pouvoir et l’influence du Commonwealth aujourd’hui

In Commonwealth of Nations, there are 54 independant countries. That represent 2,4 billion people. The Commonwealth does have influence because countries are free to join or leave the Commonwealth.

 

Now, the Commonwealth is using « soft power ».

The definition of « sof power » : if a country (or organization) uses « sof power », it tries to persuade other countries to adopt its values and principles instead of trying to impose these values and principles on them.

 

The British Empire was already to use hard power (by military, by colonisation…). Now, the Commonwealth is using only soft power.

 

New countries can join the Commonwealth even if they have no historical ties with the old British Empire. The English language is the medium of inter-Commonwealth relations. Members acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth. After Brexit, Cyprus and Malta continue to provide a bridge between the Commonwealth and the European Union.

 

Réalisateur : Didier Fraisse

Producteur : France tv studio

Année de copyright : 2020

Année de production : 2020

Année de diffusion : 2020

Publié le 13/08/20

Modifié le 13/08/20

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