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Ghana: Britain and the Commonwealth
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > Britain and the Commonwealth

BRITAIN AND THE COMMONWEALTH


By historical tradition and choice, Ghana's political future has been bound up with that of Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, Nkrumah led the way for independent African states that were former British colonies to join the Commonwealth.

The close bond between Ghana and Britain was evident in 1959 when Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, visited Ghana and received a most friendly reception. At the 1964 Commonwealth Conference, Nkrumah proposed the establishment of a permanent Commonwealth secretariat, in order, as Nkrumah put it, "to make the Commonwealth move in tune with the common aspirations of its members." According to one observer, Nkrumah believed the Commonwealth was an example of how a free association of independent states should work. The Commonwealth provided a vehicle for the transfer of technology and for economic and cultural cooperation. It also served as a place for developing the most effective methods for ending colonialism without revolution or violence and under conditions in which a former colonial territory could retain a close association with the former imperial power.

Nkrumah again took the lead in forcing South Africa out of the Commonwealth in 1961. In 1965 Ghana was forced to break diplomatic relations with Britain in order to support the OAU resolution over Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence and imposition of a white minority government. Relations were restored the next year, however, following the overthrown of Nkrumah.

Following the 31st December 1981 Revolution, Ghana lost its membership in the Commonwealth Parliament Association, which promotes interchange and understanding among parliamentarians of member states. Ghana was readmitted to the Association in September 1993, the same year it was also readmitted to the InterParliamentary Union, another Commonwealth institution. With its readmission to these two bodies, Ghana became an major player in Commonwealth affairs. In May 1994, Ghana hosted a Commonwealth conference on local government that attracted participants from several West African countries. At the end of the year, Ghana remained the only West African Commonwealth country with an elected government, the other three members -- Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia -- all being under military rule. As a contribution towards Ghanaian democracy, the Commonwealth, along with the OAU and the Carter Center in the United States, provided international observer teams to monitor Ghana's presidential election in November 1992.

Ghana's relations with Britain continued to be generally good under the PNDC. British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, paid a successful official visit to Ghana in early 1987 which resulted in enhanced British aid for Ghana' economic reforms. Since the ERP began in 1983, Britain has given Ghana more than £69 million as balance of payments support. Ghana has reportedly garnered more aid from Britain than any African country except Zimbabwe. Britain, along with other Western countries and international development agencies, also provided much needed technical, logistical, and financial support for the implementation of Ghana's governmental decentralization effort, for the first District Assembly elections in 1988-89, as well as for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992.

Data as of November 1994




Last Updated: November 1994


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Ghana was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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