Above: Map of European Neocolonial Organizations
While the glory days of Europe’s great colonial empires is long past, the influence of post-colonial unions or associations of former colonies remains a significant yet under-appreciated. While given relatively little attention, these organizations form significant trade networks, philanthropic channels, language blocs, and zones of cultural diffusion. First of all, here is an as-of-yet incomplete map of these organizations. Not show here is the Dutch Language Union, whose sole purpose and mission is preservation of the Dutch language.
The Commonwealth of Nations, an association of Great Britain’s former colonies created in 1931, is comprised of 53 member countries spanning 6 different continents and Oceania that account for roughly 1/3 of the world’s population, 1/5 of its trade, and 1/4 of its land area. Status as a member of the Commonwealth is not simply an honorific title; member countries interact through the various commonwealth organizations such as the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), and Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat). The organizational structure resembles that of the U.N, minus the security council. There is no formal trading bloc formed by the Commonwealth, but research suggests that trade between commonwealth countries is significantly greater than that between a commonwealth and a non-commonwealth neighbor. The Commonwealth has promoted a number of now-ubiquitous traditions across its member states: the Queen of England is the official head of state for most Commonwealth members; the multi-sport Commonwealth Games are held every four years; and every 2nd Monday of March Commonwealth Day officially commemorates the organization.
The Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC), founded in 1996, consists of 9 full members, 2 associate observer states, and a plethora of interested nations. The CPLC nations cover roughly 4.15 million sq mi and are home to upwards of 240 million people. The core branches of the CPLC are the The Conference of Heads of State and Government, The Council of Ministers, The Standing Committee for Consultation, and The Executive Secretariat. The primary aims of the CPLC are mostly diplomatic, linguistic, and research-oriented. Other organizations include the Association for Portuguese Language Universities, Community of Portuguese Language Medicine, and The Union of Portuguese Language Lawyers.
The Francophonie, founded in 1970, is currently composed of 57 member states with various membership statuses. The Francophonie represents roughly 890 million people, 19% of world trade, and 11 million sq mi on 5 continents and Oceania. The Francophonie relies on five core agencies to carry out its operations. These agencies include Association of Francophone Universities (AUF), TV5Monde, Senghor University of Alexandria, and International Association of French-Speaking Mayors. The Francophonie has been behind numerous conflict resolutions, economic development campaigns, philanthropic pursuits, and cultural preservation projects.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a union of 11 former Soviet Republics, including 9 full member states and 2 participant states. The CIS is primarily focused on promoting free trade and political stability in the region. As of late, there have been serious efforts to promote the standardization of the Russian language among member states. The organization also developed and implemented a regional free trade agreement, CISFTA, forming a new trading block and common market. Additionally, the organization is responsible for the development of a NATO-like treaty among member states, CSTO. Both CISFTA and CSTO face tenuous futures. Like the other neocolonial organizations discussed earlier, the CIS is heavily involved in election monitoring in member countries.
I have not gone into specific instances of these organizations at work, but I promise to do so in a future post. Membership in one of these organizations does not necessarily preclude a nation from joining other neocolonial, supranational organizations. Again, I will go into specific case studies at a later date. This post is meant to lay the groundwork for future discussion of this topic.