imperial conferences

views updated May 11 2018

imperial conferences. The development of the white dominions from Canada onwards (1867) implied some structure for liaison and consultation within the empire. In 1884 the Imperial Federation League was set up to lobby for closer union, and the first conference met in 1887 when the leaders were in London for Victoria's Golden Jubilee, the main discussion being imperial defence. A second conference at Ottawa in 1894 discussed cable laying in the Pacific, and a third met in London in 1897 to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, when it was agreed to hold regular meetings. The autonomous character of the dominions was reaffirmed by the statute of Westminster in 1931. After the Second World War, the name was changed to Commonwealth conferences and the number of participants increased considerably. In 1949 the conference accepted that India could be a republic yet remain in the Commonwealth and in 1961 the conference insisted on a declaration against apartheid, which drove out South Africa. After 1969 it was agreed that London would not necessarily be the venue and that conferences should be held every other year. In 1996 there were 51 countries entitled to send their heads of government to the meetings.

J. A. Cannon