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Non-Aligned Movement and Its Relevance

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which is a forum of 120 developing countries, got developed in the context of polarisation of cold-war blocs that were headed by the US and the erstwhile USSR after the second World War got finished. The ambitions of newly independent countries to remain non-aligned to any of the superpowers and to hold their freedom to carry on their foreign policies independently and their resistance to imperialism and colonialism contributed to the formation of Non-Aligned Movement.

NAM traces its origin to 1955, when Heads of 29 Asian and African countries assembled at Bandung in Indonesia to talk about common concerns including colonialism. The first conference of non-aligned Heads of States of 25 countries was held in Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia in 1961 by the initiative of President Josip Tito of Yugoslavia. The other eminent leaders of the third world nations who were actively associated with this conference, were Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, President of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser and President of Indonesia, Sukarno.

Aims of Non-Aligned Movement

The main aims of Non-Aligned Movement are

  • To promote transition from the old world set up based on domination to a new world set up based on equality, social justice and freedom.

  • To follow peace, disarmament and resolution of all disputes in peaceful manner.

  • To back independence and self-determination of all the people living under foreign countries' occupation and colonial domination.

  • To look for acceptable remedies to the world economic problems, with focus on reducing the inequalities in the level of development among different nations.

  • To encourage fundamental rights and personal freedom.

  • To strengthen the functioning and effectiveness of the United Nations.

  • To seek sustainable and environmental friendly development.

Achievements of Non-Aligned Movement

Right from its inception, NAM had been very critical of all forms of colonialism, dominance and imperialism. The Belgrade Conference (1961) and the Cairo Conference (1964) called for abolition of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. NAM also played a prominent role in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s in promoting the rights of self-determination for all the people under foreign rule.

It supported national movements of different countries throughout the world. It supported Namibian struggle for independence. It supported resistance movements led by anti-neocolonial leadership in Cuba against local oppressive rulers.

It supported the Palestinians cause and their struggle for their homeland against Israel. It criticised the apartheid policy of South Africa. It also supported the Vietnamese peoples' right to choose their own economic and political system.

NAM made an appeal to the developed nations to give urgent priority to establish a more equitable global economy and to assist developing nations in settling the problems of low prices for commodities that are produced by them and the high burden of debts.

It also favoured more South-South Cooperation in investment and trade. It also established the NAM Business Forum to explore the prospects of more economic linkages among its member States.

Crisis in NAM and its Relevance

With the end of the cold war and the politics of opposing blocs in late 1980s after dissolution of USSR, questions sprang up over the relevance of NAM in the new context and some suggested even for its closure. In 1991, when there was dissolution of Yugoslavia, which was then holding the Chairmanship of NAM, it caused a crisis for the future of NAM.

However, when Indonesia took over the Chairmanship in 1992, it revitalised NAM and its aim was mentioned as projecting itself as a "vibrant, constructive and genuinely independent component of the mainstream of international relations".

Revitalisation of NAM

In the 2003 NAM summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the theme was 'revitalisation of NAM'. The heads of member-nations discussed the relevance of NAM and its future political agenda and came up with Kuala Lumpur Declaration. The declaration made clear that the Non-Aligned Movement must preserve multilateralism as an 'indispensable vehicle' to defend the interests of the member nations.

It called upon the member-states to prevent marginalisation of NAM in the world affairs and to make sure that its views are taken into consideration before taking any important decisions. In order to play such a proactive role, it is utmost important for the member-nations to be united and to adapt to the changes in world order.

The declaration further requested democratic reforms in the system of international governance to enhance participation of the developing countries. The declaration advocated that the UN charter should be strictly adhered to and all the conflicts should be settled through diplomacy and dialogue.