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Global 13

commonwealth network The Long View “The Commonwealth needs to find the areas where its unique characteristics can be most useful ” intErviEw Clyde Sanger, veteran journalist and former Director of Information, Commonwealth Secretariat As a reporter for the Manchester Guard- Obote (Uganda), they developed a proposal Nyerere broke off Tanzania’s relations with ian, Clyde Sanger covered the coming of for a Secretariat, and a Secretary-General, Britain, and Pearson saved the day at the independence to six Commonwealth Afri- focused mainly on economic development. 1966 Lagos summit by pressing for more can countries and the turbulent events sur- India and Canada were doubtful. Arnold effective sanctions. rounding the Rhodesian Unilateral Declara- Smith, as a senior Canadian official, per- tion of Independence (UDI) in 1965. Later, suaded his Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, Who were the great figures in the he became Director of Information in the to accept the scheme. Commonwealth at this stage? Commonwealth Secretariat under Smith’s Officials met for months, and Smith, who Besides Nkrumah, Williams and Obote, the successor, Sir Shridath Ramphal. Here, had been Canada’s ambassador in Cairo Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew made Sanger talks to Globalabout the formation and Moscow, was immersed in Common- his intellectual mark soon after his city- of a central Secretariat, and the African and wealth meetings. Before the 1965 meeting, state became a Commonwealth member. Caribbean leaders credited with its estab- seven candidates were nominated. Britain Pearson retired in 1968, and Pierre Tru- lishment as an independent organisation was against a vote, suggesting that a retired deau who succeeded Pearson as Canadian working on behalf of all member countries. colonial governor act as Secretary-Gener- Prime Minister surprisingly embraced al during a year of procedural talk. In the the association after treating it flippantly. Global: In the 1960s, how different were end, Smith triumphed overwhelmingly in a He enjoyed close relations with Nyerere, Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ meetings secret ballot. Michael Manley (Jamaica) and Malcolm from today’s Commonwealth summits? Fraser (Australia). And Arnold Smith had Clyde Sanger: The most obvious differ- Within months, Arnold Smith and his skilfully built the Secretariat’s political ence is size. In 1958, the meeting was small fledgling Secretariat were facing a wave of clout and achieved a limited executive role. enough to take place in No. 10 Downing crises – Rhodesian UDI, war between India Street. By 1964, there were still only 18 and Pakistan, and trouble in Cyprus. How By 1969, the Commonwealth seemed Heads of Government meeting at Marlbor- did they cope with those challenges? calmer, although Rhodesia remained an ough House in London. Britain was still Remarkably well. Arnold had come to issue and South Africa was a growing in the chair and the hub of discussion. The know top-notch officials from different preoccupation. Why was that? meeting was longer – more than a week – countries and put together a good team, There was general fatigue about the im- and the agenda wasn’t carefully prepared. with a Ghanaian, Amishadai Adu, heading passe over Rhodesia, after futile meetings political affairs. The UN Security Coun- with Ian Smith aboard destroyers. The fo- What led to the establishment of the cil faced warfare between India and Paki- cus in 1969 was on ending Nigeria’s dev- Commonwealth Secretariat and the stan, with 10,000 deaths and a tank battle astating civil war. Arnold Smith was deeply appointment of the first Commonwealth in Kashmir. Eventually, the Soviet leader, involved in peace talks with leaders on both Secretary-General, Arnold Smith? Alexei Kosygin, brought the combatants to sides. Wilson, nearing the end of his pre- A fascinating story, which really began at terms. Smith stayed clear, realising that the miership, was credited with defending the the 1964 summit. Sir Alec Douglas-Home Rhodesian situation was much more explo- sovereignty of Gibraltar. the then British Prime Minister was look- sive for the Commonwealth. ing for unquestioning support as he fore- Does the modern Commonwealth still have saw the Rhodesian rebellion. He claimed Why do you think the British government’s a relevance and a role? decolonisation was virtually complete and handling of the Rhodesian rebellion caused A difficult question. Despite an Indian in- suggested new ways in which Common- such dissension in the Commonwealth? cumbent at present, that great country seems wealth countries could cooperate – techni- Harold Wilson who replaced Douglas- nonchalant about the Commonwealth. cal assistance in agricultural projects, aid Home as British Prime Minister mishan- But Commonwealth supporters must not for higher education and a Commonwealth dled Rhodesia from the start, almost invit- lose heart: it has been of great importance Foundation to strengthen professional links. ing Ian Smith to rebel by foreswearing the many times, and needs to find the areas African and Caribbean leaders wanted use of force. Britain never hesitated to send where its unique characteristics can be most more organised cooperation, and more for- troops to Kenya during the Mau Mau upris- useful. mal machinery, to help smaller, isolated ing, or to Guyana later. An RAF squadron states. Between Eric Williams (Trinidad), in Zambia and a naval blockade off Mo- Interview by Stuart Mole Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) and Milton zambique were pathetic responses. Julius 86 lwww.global-briefing.org first quarter 2013global


Global 13
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