Suspension and Expulsion
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- What is the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, known as CMAG?
CMAG’s fundamental task is to assess the nature of any infringement of the Commonwealth’s political values and recommend measures for collective action from member countries.
In the 13 years since it was established CMAG has remained a unique body. Its authority to suspend or even recommend to Heads of Government that a member country be expelled is unparalleled by other international organisations.
CMAG deals with “serious or persistent violations” of the principles contained in the Harare Declaration. In this Declaration, Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to work “with renewed vigour” to protect and promote “the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth”.
Heads of Government decided to establish CMAG at their biennial meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1995. The Group is convened by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and made up of Foreign Ministers from nine countries. The Group is reconstituted at every CHOGM and Ministers generally serve two terms. More about CMAG...
- What happens if a country is suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth?
If a country is suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth, this excludes government representatives attending intergovernmental Commonwealth meetings or activities and prohibits any new technical assistance being provided. However, during this time a country may receive support directed to the restoration of democracy.
Although suspension does restrict the Commonwealth working with a member government, the action is not meant to punish the country’s citizens. That is why ongoing projects and activities in a member country can be completed.
A suspension also acts as a public declaration from the Commonwealth to the government in question and the international community, condemning the abuses of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.
There are currently no countries suspended only from the Councils of the Commonwealth.
- What happens if a country is fully suspended from the Commonwealth?
Following full suspension of a country, in addition to the above measures, all emblematic representation of the country at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth meetings and all other official Commonwealth events will cease. Commonwealth member states are encouraged to take appropriate bilateral measures, such as limiting government-to-government contacts in order to further reinforce the need for change. Fiji Islands is currently fully suspended from the Commonwealth. (The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has the authority to suspend a member state either from the Councils of the Commonwealth or fully.)
- Can a country be expelled from the Commonwealth?
Yes. Although this action has never been taken, continued breaches of the political values can lead to expulsion from the Commonwealth.
- Wasn’t Zimbabwe expelled from the Commonwealth?
No. Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002, and decided to withdraw from the Commonwealth in December 2003.
- Which countries are currently suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth?
There are no countries suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth.
- Which countries are currently suspended from the Commonwealth?
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