Topic

Other

Not all topics neatly fall into categories, so annotations that primarily relate to non-political or non-historical fields may fall in the Other category. These may include comments related to science, education, public policy, or any number of interesting topics.

This paragraph emphasizes the two “broad pillars” of the Commonwealth: Democracy and Development.  This paragraph, combined with the several introductory paragraphs that follow, give at least a nod to the Commonwealth’s eight declared programs: Good Offices for Peace, Democracy and Consensus-Building, Rule of Law, Human Rights, Public Sector Development, Economic Development, Environmentally Sustainable Development, and Human Development. The 16 values named later in this Charter either expand on or add to the original 8 programs.
Annotated by luzzell on September 05, 2013

One impetus for the call to write a Commonwealth Charter was the perceived need to address the laws against homosexuality that exist in a large majority of the member countries.  In some cases, these laws prohibiting homosexual acts are enforced with the harshest of punishments.  The wording of this paragraph, which concludes by announcing an implacable opposition to discrimination based on “other grounds” – avoiding the topic of gay rights altogether – demonstrates how difficult it was to reach a consensus of value among a group of countries as diverse as those in this alliance.

Annotated by luzzell on September 05, 2013

The Charter may recognize the “surge in popular demands for democracy” and the “inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes,” but the Commonwealth itself is not an exclusive club for democracies.  Currently, of the 54 member nations, 33 are republics, 5 are national monarchies, and the remaining 16 are either headed by Governors General who represent the sovereign power of Britain’s Queen or (in the case of Great Britain itself) is headed by the Queen in person.  The role of the Governors General is primarily ceremonial, but the 5 monarchies in the Commonwealth range between constitutional monarchies and almost autocratic rule.  Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan, for instance, is a hereditary monarch and consolidates considerable power in the hands of one person.  Queen Elizabeth II presides as the Head of the Commonwealth, but for most countries she serves only as a figurehead.  

Annotated by luzzell on September 05, 2013

According to Article II of the Constitution, the President is vested with executive power.  There has been a significant debate throughout our history as to the nature and extent of those executive powers.  Among the most problematic of these discussions is the appropriate relationship and interaction of the executive with both the legislative and judicial branches of government.

Annotated by kcbooz on September 05, 2013

Thomas Jefferson was in Paris during the Convention and was appalled by the news that it would be held in secret, believing the rule showed, "ignorance of the value of public discussion."

Annotated by claire.mcnabb1730 on September 05, 2013