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Miss Mensah goes to vote in National Elections, Accra, Ghana [Gold Coast], 1951 (Crown copyright: COI ref. K12401) RCS Y3011R / 29

The modern commonwealth

The 'modern' Commonwealth was formed in the late 1940s, when the 'white club' of nations that had existed before 1947 was transformed by the creation of the newly independent India and Pakistan, and by the London Declaration (1949) which allowed Commonwealth nations to remain within the association whilst becoming republics. After 1947, the association moved from a British one to a multiracial Commonwealth dominated by African and Asian countries by the early 1970s. Commonwealth discourse in 1950s and 1960s focused on friendship, international connection and multiracialism and in this period the association moved towards being a moral and cultural rather than a legal or economic unit. The Singapore Declaration of 1971 put into words moral principles around issues of equality between races and people and freedom from violence and poverty that had become central in Commonwealth communiqués over the preceding years. Images in the Royal Commonwealth Society Collection reflect positive narratives of independence, optimism, modernity and multiracialism. 

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