Commonwealth Defence Cooperation during the Cold War, 1947-1982

  • Eugene Kevin Foley-Friel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis argues that the Commonwealth was a key institution which helped shape defence cooperation amongst Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and the UK between 1947 and 1982. It suggests that the changing nature of the Commonwealth forced those countries to fundamentally review how they cooperated on defence issues. It also highlights how the Commonwealth, as a collective, reinvented the very form and function of Commonwealth defence cooperation. It advances the idea that after 1971 what develops are two strands of defence cooperation that were pursued by Commonwealth countries. One strand, which had its roots in Commonwealth defence cooperation since 1947, was focused on territorial defence against foreign states but was no longer referred to as 'Commonwealth' defence cooperation. Another strand, which was driven by new members of the Commonwealth, sought to provide military assistance to other Commonwealth countries in the pursuit of the values outlined in the Singapore Declaration of 1971. These two strands existed in parallel after 1971 and what becomes clear after the deployment of the Commonwealth Electoral Monitoring Force to Rhodesia is that the Commonwealth, as a collective, was no longer considered an appropriate vehicle for the territorial defence of its constituent countries. This thesis advances our understanding of the Commonwealth generally, but particularly in the field of the military history of the Commonwealth. It speaks to the military policies pursued by Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and the UK during the Cold War, and why the Commonwealth initially featured quite strongly in those plans and increasingly became a burden which was shed in favour of smaller more regionally focused defence organisations in pursuit of the same objectives.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSimon J Potter (Supervisor) & James Thompson (Supervisor)

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