The Commonwealth: What a legacy


More than a third of the world’s children, 862 million young people, currently live in Commonwealth countries. From Antigua and Barbuda, to Zambia, the Commonwealth has left a shameful legal legacy of discrimination and violence.

Laws legalising the corporal punishment of children, punitive criminal justice systems with low minimum ages of criminal responsibility and life imprisonment, blasphemy laws and the criminalisation of consensual same-sex acts in these countries have their roots in British colonial law.

While the legacy of the Commonwealth is usually touted as one of unity and mutual benefit, the truth is that those States grappling with Britain's colonial legacy 70 years after the London Declaration do not often have legal systems that uphold children’s human rights.

Rather than celebrating this legacy, the British government should apologise for it. But because we do not expect it to, we have written the kind of apology it ought to issue this Commonwealth Day. For the full apology and the data we have gathered on children’s rights in the Commonwealth, click the links below.


An apology to the Commonwealth