The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal sovereign states encompassing many ethnicities and faiths. Each is committed to upholding shared values and principles to promote and protect Democracy, Human Rights, the Rule of Law and Equality for all citizens in accordance with the Commonwealth Charter.
The modern Commonwealth spans the six regions of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific. Thirty-one members are small states, many of which are island nations. The total population is assessed at 2.5 billion people, approximately one third of the world, of which 1.5 billion are under 30 years of age.
The relevance and strength of the modern Commonwealth lies in its network of diaspora, cultural and sporting links, the widespread use of a common language and a strong shared legal heritage. These values, characteristics, and interests have engendered a common interest and trust between the peoples and communities of this unique and widely diverse association of independent countries.
Outside of the core of inter-governmental agencies, the Commonwealth benefits from a number of civil society and professional bodies that represent the evolution of the modern Commonwealth and the many links between peoples, communities and interests upon which it is built. The Royal Commonwealth Society is a leading body within this group of independent organisations.