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Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organisation whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The CIS is a loose association of states. Although the CIS has few supranational powers, it is aimed at being more than a purely symbolic organisation, nominally possessing coordinating powers in the realm of trade, finance, lawmaking, and security. It has also promoted cooperation on cross-border crime prevention. Some of the members of the CIS have established the Eurasian Economic Community with the aim of creating a fully fledged common market.

The organisation was founded on 8 December 1991 by the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, when the leaders of the three countries met in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Natural Reserve, about 50 km (31 mi) north of Brest in Belarus and signed a Creation Agreement on the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of CIS as a successor entity to it. At the same time they announced that the new alliance would be open to all republics of the former Soviet Union, and to other nations sharing the same goals. The CIS charter stated that all the members were sovereign and independent nations and thereby effectively abolished the Soviet Union.

On 21 December 1991, the leaders of eight additional former Soviet Republics — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — signed the Alma-Ata Protocol and joined the CIS, thus bringing the number of participating countries to 11. Georgia joined two years later, in December 1993. At this point, 12 former Soviet Republics (all except the Baltic States) participated in the CIS.

Since its inception, one of the primary goals of the CIS has been to provide a forum for discussing issues related to the social and economic development of the newly independent states. To achieve this goal member states have agreed to promote and protect human rights. Initially efforts to achieve this goal consisted merely of statements of good will, but on 26 May 1995, the CIS adopted a Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Source of information: http://www.cisstat.com/eng/

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