Editorials

Welcome to The Round Table Editorials. This page summarizes and displays the Editorial article from the latest issue of The Round Table.

The Round Table is the major source for coverage of the policy issues concerning the contemporary Commonwealth and its role in international affairs, with occasional articles on themes of historical interest.

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The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

The Round Table has for many years been a repository of informed scholarship, opinion, and judgement regarding both international relations in general, and the Commonwealth in particular, with authorship and readership drawn from the worlds of government, business, finance and academe.

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  • International Environmental Governance - Securing our Common Wealth
    Volume 101, Issue 419 April 2012, pages 101-105
    by Mark Collins

    Environmental challenges are some of the most pervasive, complex and persistent facing humanity today. Because their impact is often gradual or delayed, geographically uneven, or capable of being obscured by transfer of technology or perverse financial subsidies, they have not been easily addressed through global governance systems. As a result, for 20 years we have continued to pursue environmentally unsustainable development paths, leaving expensive and intractable challenges for future generations. Read More...

  • The Commonwealth: Club, Church or Beehive?
    Volume 101, Issue 418 February 2012, pages 1-4
    by Terry A. Barringer

    Rarely has a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting attracted such a range of contradictory assessments as at the 2011 Perth CHOGM. When The Round Table editorial board and other Commonwealth watchers met in January in Cambridge to ponder 'The Commonwealth after Perth', nearly every speaker felt the need to declare their position on the 'glass half empty/half full' spectrometer. Eventually someone asked whether we had the right sort of glass. This range of opinions justifies the appearance of the third editorial in succession addressing the expectations of and the outcomes of this summit. Read More...

  • The Commonwealth at its Turning Point: The EPG Report and CHOGM 2011
    Volume 100, Issue 417 December 2011, pages 475-479
    by Ronald Sanders

    The report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on urgent reform of the Commonwealth dominated the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth. It is now a seminal document in the Commonwealth's history, and will remain the focus of attention for much needed change in the Commonwealth over the next few months. The fact that some of the recommendations became matters of controversy between governments in no way diminishes the significance of the report; if anything, the controversy has served to heighten its importance. Read More...

  • Perth and the Commonwealth - Options for Reform
    Volume 100, Issue 416 October 2011, pages 475-479
    by Stuart Mole

    As Commonwealth leaders gather in Perth, Western Australia, for their biennial summit meeting, one of the challenges before them will be how to handle the report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. Two years before, when deciding to put in train a review process, Heads of Government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago had been careful to lower expectations and limit the scope of any review. In particular, governments wanted to shake up the Commonwealth Secretariat. Many felt that the Secretariat had failed to streamline its programmes or accelerate the internal reforms needed to bring the organisation in line with international standards and practices. Read More...

  • Australia and the Developing World
    Volume 100, Issue 415 August 2011, pages 359-360
    by Derek McDougall

    In introducing a special issue on the theme of 'Australia and the Developing World' it is appropriate to offer some broader reflections on the significance of this theme in Australian foreign policy. At the start it should be recognised that this particular theme is not explicitly emphasised in the organisation of Australian foreign policy. Although this special issue focuses on state-to-state relations, some discussions of the Global 'South' argue that the concept is also important in the context of civil society and can also manifest itself within states of the 'North' (the situation of the indigenous people within Australia being a good example). Read More...

  • Happy Commonwealthtide?
    Volume 100, Issue 414 June 2011, pages 229-231
    by Terry A. Barringer

    A warm glow could be discerned at gatherings of the Commonwealth faithful during the recent Commonwealth season—at the annual Westminster Abbey Observance, the other celebrations of 'Commonwealth Week' and this year's annual Commonwealth Lecture by Sonia Gandhi. Many Commonwealth aficionados were also to be met at two additional events of particular significance to The Round Table. The first was Philip Murphy's inaugural lecture as Director of the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the second the first Peter Lyon Memorial Lecture given by Lord Howell a few weeks later. We are pleased to be able to publish both these important lectures in this issue. Read More...

  • Small States in Multilateral Economic Negotiations
    Volume 100, Issue 413 April 2011, pages 135-139
    by Amrita Narlikar

    This journal has a long-standing reputation for publishing pioneering, state-of-the-art research on small states. So it seemed only appropriate that in the series of conferences and workshops that have been organised to commemorate The Round Table's centenary, the first was on Small States in International Economic Negotiations. The workshop was held in November 2009, sponsored by the journal and hosted by the University of Cambridge, and this special issue is a product of the debate that took place there. Its aim is to take stock of research on small states thus far, and focus and develop it further. The central puzzle driving this special issue is how some of the smallest players negotiate in the international political economy, or how the weak bargain with the strong in multilateral economic negotiations. Read More...

  • Beyond Political Correctness - The Commonwealth and Human Rights
    Volume 100, Issue 412 February 2011, pages 11-13
    by Venkat Iyer

    As this issue of The Round Table went to press, questions touching the purpose, direction and functioning of two of the Commonwealth's key institutions have surfaced in circumstances that threaten another prolonged spell of negative publicity for the organisation as a whole. The debate was sparked off by two reports in the British media, both based on leaked documents and unattributed briefings. The first, in effect, accused the Commonwealth Secretary-General of soft-pedalling on human rights, reportedly to the consternation of his own staff; the second pointed to an alleged culture of authoritarianism, bullying and racist behaviour in the Commonwealth Foundation. These reports were, unsurprisingly, followed by a flurry of denials, counter-accusations, calls for reflection, and demands for remedial measures. The issue of human rights has always been—and will continue to be—both contentious and intractable, as the record of the debate on this issue, within and outside the Commonwealth, has shown over the years. Read More...

  • A Very Big Birthday
    Volume 99, Issue 410 October 2010, pages 461-466
    by Terry A. Barringer

    In 2010 The Round Table celebrated its centenary with a round of events, publications and awards. This editorial summarises all these and indicates where their record can be found in print and on the web. It concludes by asking what lessons the journal has learned as it moves into its second century. History matters and RT's own history matters. It must continue to learn from the wisdom of the elders even as it engages with new and younger voices in the Commonwealth network of networks. RT must continue to make every attempt to use evolving information and communications technology but with an awareness of how ICT affects the nature, producers, recorders and consumers of information, knowledge and wisdom, supportive of Commonwealth values but always willing to ask awkward questions. Read More...

  • Commemorations and Conversations
    Volume 99, Issue 408 June 2010, pages 229-231
    by Terry A. Barringer

    Editorials not infrequently stray into the prophetic and the prophetic is risky territory. Nevertheless, I am going to make a prediction. By the middle of this century, there will be a cluster of PhD students preoccupied with the burgeoning of the anniversary culture in the 'noughties'. Kicked off by the debates on how to mark the new millennium, fuelled by the 'heritage' industry, accompanied by a growing academic interest in the contested politics of memory and the modes of memorialisation, this culture flowered in the UK around the commemoration in 2007 of the bicentenary of the British abolition of slavery. In Commonwealth circles, the 60th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth in 2009 attracted attention that was almost entirely lacking at its half-century. Yet it is sometimes hard to guess which anniversaries will attract the attention of the media and the general public. Read More...

  • The Round Table at 100, in a Changing Commonwealth Context
    Volume 99, Issue 406 February 2010, pages 1-5
    by Richard Bourne

    At some time in the mid-1960s I recall an item on the newslist for the next day's Guardian—'Whither the Commonwealth?' by Harold Jackson, a journalist who went on to make a reputation by covering the Six Day War in the Middle East. People in the newsroom joked that Harry was 'whithering' again. The existential question surrounding the Commonwealth, dismissed as a kind of a post-imperial hoax by Enoch Powell, was getting another going over in print. Now, at the conclusion of a century of reportage and analysis by The Round Table, it is clear that the Commonwealth is still in business, with a past and a future. The existential question has not disappeared, but it is less frequently asked: indeed more questions are asked about the United Nations, its agencies, and the Bretton Woods institutions. Read More...