What is the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 2, 2022, 8:58

The Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] is an association that coordinates to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, labour force, and capital between its member states. It was established in 1991, and 12 countries are its member. It was formed post the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] functions based on the Charter that was adopted Council of Heads of State on the 22nd of January 1993. The Charter specifies that the member states were independent and equal subjects before the law, and the Commonwealth was constituted based on sovereign equality between all members.

Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] Formation

On the 8th of December 1991, at the meeting held in Minsk between the Presidents of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, it was decided that the Soviet Union no longer exists as a geopolitical reality or as a subject of international law. They then signed an accord, thereby establishing the Commonwealth of Sovereign States that was open to all the states of the former USSR. Gorbachev, who was still the President of the USSR, had to endorse this accord.

And then, on 21st December, at a meeting held in Alma-Ata, eight other nations joined the Commonwealth, and thus, the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] got formed. Thus the 12 nations that formed the CIS were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] Origin

The founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] are Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The headquarter of CIS is located in Minsk, Belarus, and is headed by an Executive Director. The Chairman of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] is known as Executive Secretary, and the current Executive Secretary is Sergei Lebedev. Until 1993, the primary constituent document of CIS was the Creation Agreement.

But after 1993, the CIS Charter was adopted. The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, though part of the former Soviet Union, never joined the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]. However, Georgia withdrew from the membership in 2009 and Ukraine in 2018. Thus, in contrast to the inception days, the membership count and status of the member states have changed.

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Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] Objective

Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] encourages economic, political, and military cooperation among the member states and is defined as the regional intergovernmental organization in Eastern Europe and Asia

  1. Supporting economic and social developments in the member countries with a common economic space.
  2. Ensure human rights and fundamental freedom as per the principles recognized universally.
  3. Ensure international peace and security to facilitate cooperation between the member states.
  4. And peacefully resolve disputes and conflicts between the member states.

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As an aftermath of various political and ideological happenings, only a few of the CIS goals were met. In the absence of a planned custom union implementation and with the increasing dominance of Russia, the other member states feared that they might lose their sovereignty. With the fear that Russia might overpower all others, members started to distance themselves and the Commonwealth of Independent States never managed to attain its goals. It was gradually becoming evident that the trade interest of the more western-inclined states was shifting.

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FAQs on Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]

Q.1. What is the purpose behind the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]?

Ans. The Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] was formed to facilitate and strengthen cooperation between the member states in areas like political, economic, humanitarian, security, legal, ecological, and cultural among others.

Q.2. Where is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] located?

Ans. The headquarter of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] is located in Minsk, Belarus.

Q.3 Which countries are there in the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]?

Ans. 10 countries are there in the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] as full-time members and they are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. However, Turkmenistan is not a full member but an associate one since it has not ratified the charter.

Q.4. What is the total area and population of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] countries?

Ans. The 10 member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] together cover an area of 21.46 m km². And they hold a population of about 244.31 m, which is 3.1% of the world population.