14 August 2000
Tuvalu will become a full member of the Commonwealth on 1 September 2000 after having been a 'special' member of the association for nearly 31 years. Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon made the announcement after consulting member governments which had unanimously agreed to the change.
"The Commonwealth responded warmly to the wish of the people of Tuvalu that their country assume full membership of the Commonwealth," the Secretary-General said. "Their decision to seek full membership reflects the commitment of the Government of Tuvalu to participate more fully in international affairs and to renew its commitment to the Commonwealth's core principles of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and sustainable economic development. I look forward to welcoming the Prime Minister of Tuvalu at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane, Australia, next year."
Note to Editors:
Tuvalu has held special membership of the Commonwealth following its independence on 1 October 1978, and was the sole remaining Commonwealth Special Member. A decision to accord special membership to Tuvalu at that time was taken by Commonwealth Heads of Government at the request of the then Chief Minister T Lauti. The category of special membership was devised to take account of Tuvalu's size (Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, consists of a group of atolls with a total land area of 26 square kilometres) and limited involvement in international affairs. As a Special Member, Tuvalu was not required to contribute financially to the running of the Commonwealth Secretariat and other Commonwealth intergovernmental bodies. It was, however, invited to and participated in Commonwealth activities, developmental and other programmes, and initiatives at ministerial and other levels, but did not participate in Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.
The number of Commonwealth member countries remains at 54.