Commonwealth Values

Welcome to Module 6 Commonwealth Values. This module has two goals. The first is to introduce you to a set of values that have come to underpin the Commonwealth – human rights, equity, democracy, pluralism, citizenship, participation and empowerment.

You should already have a sense of what these terms mean in general. This module will help you to develop your understanding of the specific ideas that underpin these terms, as well as what they mean in the context of youth development work. These values are strongly reflected in the other modules of this Diploma programme.

The second goal is to introduce you to the Commonwealth as an international organisation: how it evolved, how it is structured, and what it is trying to achieve. You should be able to develop a sense not just of Commonwealth values, but also of the value of the Commonwealth itself. As a voluntary association of sovereign, independent states, it is unique in its ability to bring together such a diverse range of peoples committed to dialogue and consensus building, where developing and developed country governments sit as equals around the table.

The Commonwealth is a political and cultural organisation of great complexity and does its work guided by a philosophy based on certain key values and principles. These are designed to hold its complex and sometimes contradictory social systems together as a coherent whole. This module is designed to equip you with a knowledge and understanding of the key Commonwealth values and principles. They are the values that underpin this Diploma programme. The emphasis in the module is on the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth, as defined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991 – adherence to human rights and democratic principles. For this reason, two of the units will look at the principles of human rights and democracy at a universal level.

The module also explores the values that underpin the way that the Commonwealth actually works: through consultation, co-operation, and consensus-building. It will focus on the key concepts of citizenship, human rights, participation, democracy, empowerment, robust pluralism and equity. This module will describe the nature of the Commonwealth as an institution of diverse cultures and traditions, its decision-making structures and its key areas of work. Finally, it will look at how these values are related to youth development work and can be promoted through it.

Some of the units may seem rather abstract or theoretical to you, but please persevere: they provide information that will help you to understand and integrate Commonwealth values into your work. You will be given suggestions and opportunities for putting theory into practice at regular intervals throughout the module. In addition, examples and case studies have been included to help you relate the theory to the real world.

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Commonwealth Values