Since 1910, The Round Table journal has been providing analysis of international affairs from Commonwealth perspectives. As such, its archive provides an invaluable historical resource for those wishing to learn more about contemporary attitudes to the major international questions over more than 100 years, from the eve of the First World War to the early twenty-first century, including the transition from empire to Commonwealth, and political developments in Commonwealth member-states, often written by leading experts or practitioners.
Thanks to an agreement with the journal’s publishers, Taylor & Francis, we will be highlighting and making freely available a new article every two weeks, chosen either for its relevance to a current issue, or going back 100, 75, 50 25 years, from this archive.
Until 1966 all articles in the journal were anonymous (as was the case with many other publications at the time). However, it has been possible to identify the authors in a large number of cases, from the papers of the editorial board. For a list, see appendix F here.
To visit the full archive of the journal, click here.
Issue 24, Volume 6, Year 1916 – ‘France’
Napoleon Bonaparte, who died 200 years ago, put his country back at the forefront of global affairs where it remains today. It has been said that France is governed as much through the legacies of its philosophers (from Descartes to Montaigne to Rousseau) as of its kings, emperors, and politicians. How French thought shaped the national culture is traced in this fascinating article written at the height of the First World War.
Issue 142, Volume 36, Year 1946 – ‘Five Speeches on World Government’ by Dermot Morrah
At a time when nationalism is in the ascendant and international organisations are under attack from many sides, it is worth reflecting on how contemporaries viewed world problems 75 years ago, as they emerged from the horror of the Second World War. In this article, the Round Table’s editor draws together several recent speeches in favour of a decisive move towards a limited and democratically-elected world government.
Issue 247, Volume 62, Year 1972 – ‘The Inside and Outside of Chinese History’ by Wang Gungwu
The rise of China is now a given as we prepare for what international relations experts call a bi-polar world. But it was not always so. Chinese historians, back to Confucius, described a country with an interior view, and indeed the West for centuries only saw ‘a weak’ China.
Issue 40, Volume 10, Year 1920The Changing East by T. E. Lawrence
This article was well known to be written by T.E. Lawrence even though it was unsigned, as was the norm then. It came at an important time when the shape of the post-First World War settlement in the Middle East was unclear, and the extent of colonial control by the UK and France within their respective spheres remained uncertain.
Issue 240, Volume 60, Year 1970The Commonwealth: An Indian view
India, today, remains a somewhat sceptical member of the Commonwealth. This was true when it joined the Commonwealth even allowing for the particular leading role played by Jawaharlal Nehru.
25 May 2021 – Myanmar
Issue 325, Volume 82, Year 1993 – Myanmar’s Agony: The Struggle for Democracy by Bruce Matthews
Dramatic and heart-rending images of the struggle for democracy in Myanmar (a former British colony but not so far a member of the Commonwealth) have filled our screens in recent months. The army seized power in 1962, and the struggle against the military junta dates back more than thirty years. Here Bruce Matthew tracks the origins of this struggle, with insights on the obstacles that the opposition to military rule has faced.
Issue 205, Volume 52, Year 1961Commonwealth and common markets by Eric Roll
UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan first bid to enter the “Common Market” or European Economic Community 50 years ago – and a key obstacle turned on the prevailing system of preferential trade agreements with Commonwealth countries.
Issue 414, Volume 100, Year 2011 – ‘Britain and the Commonwealth: confronting the past – imagining the future’ by Philip Murphy
Britain’s relationship with the Commonwealth has always been complicated by its imperial past. In this inaugural lecture as director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Philip Murphy traces the ups and downs of the UK’s engagement with the Commonwealth, and suggests that the Commonwealth provides the key to the UK making something positive and constructive out of its disturbing imperial past.
Issue 406, Volume 99, Year 2010 – ‘CHOGM Diary’ by Derek Ingram
The next CHOGM was expected in Rwanda, amid some degree of controversy. In this diary we can look back to a time when a CHOGM had true global impact and for all the right reasons – at 2010 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, when even French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy attended. Derek Ingram, a veteran Commonwealth journalist, sets the scene – and notes Rwanda, a former Belgian colony, joining.
Issue 43, Volume 11, Year 1921 – ‘Ireland’ by Lionel Curtis
Few journal articles can have had as much impact as this one by Lionel Curtis, published at the height of the war for Irish independence. Despite its patronising and even racist language, the key message of the article – that Ireland should be divided, with the south given the same degree of self-government as Canada – profoundly influenced Lloyd George, who appointed Curtis his adviser on Ireland in the subsequent negotiations.
Issue 252, Volume 63, Year 1973 – ‘Labour, Europe and the World’ by Peter Shore
After Brexit, just how is Britain faring? To many, Boris Johnson’s dream of a new ‘Global Britain’ and refreshed Commonwealth relations seem somewhat unrealised. Here, in the immediate aftermath of the UK joining the European Communities, Peter Shore, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, warns against simple ‘shortcuts to prosperity’, and argues that Britain should instead seek stronger Commonwealth ties.
Issue 337, Volume 85, Year 1996 – ‘Nigeria’ by Shridath Ramphal
Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth in 1995 after its military regime executed Ken Saro–Wiwa and ten others. In this speech, Shridath Ramphal (Secretary–General of the Commonwealth, 1975–90) makes an eloquent case for international action against military and undemocratic regimes. Nigeria was re-admitted to the Commonwealth in 1999 following the transfer of power to the democratically elected president, Olusegun Obasanjo.