Institute of Commonwealth Studies launches Commonwealth oral history website

Wednesday 13 November 2013

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies – a member institute of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study – is launching a brand new world-class resource for students, researchers, historians and policy makers: Commonwealth Oral Histories - a website packed with unique information.

The ambitious project features a series of extended interviews with leading politicians, diplomats and journalists involved in the recent history of the Commonwealth from 1965. These discussions are part of a larger initiative, ‘An Oral History of the Commonwealth’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Commonwealth’s third secretary-general, and two former British foreign secretaries – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Lord Douglas Hurd – are included in the first eleven interviews. By 2015, more than 60 will be available on the dedicated website, hosted by the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The digital research resource focuses on the key Commonwealth diplomatic themes: leadership; mediation; bilateral and collaborative international pressure for racial justice; developmental issues; democratisation; the Commonwealth’s contribution to the evolution of international norms and legal frameworks (debt forgiveness, the law of the sea, election monitoring, nuclear non-proliferation).

‘The interviews also include comment from those governments who were on the receiving end of Commonwealth strictures, as well as observations from the wider Commonwealth “family”’ says Dr Sue Onslow, senior research fellow at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies.

‘It will provide an essential research tool for anyone investigating the history of the Commonwealth and will serve to promote interest in and understanding of the organisation.’

The official launch of Commonwealth Oral Histories is on November 14, the eve of the 23rd Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka.