The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.
Drawing on the principles agreed at the Bandung Conference in 1955, the Non-Aligned Movement was established in 1961 in Belgrade, SR Serbia, Yugoslavia through an initiative of the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, Indonesian President Sukarno, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. This led to the first Conference of Heads of State or Governments of Non-Aligned Countries. The term non-aligned movement first appears in the fifth conference in 1976, where participating countries are denoted as "members of the movement".
The purpose of the organization was enumerated by Fidel Castro in his Havana Declaration of 1979 as to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics." The countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations' members and contain 55% of the world population. Membership is particularly concentrated in countries considered to be developing or part of the Third World, though the Non-Aligned Movement also has a number of developed nations.
Although many of the Non-Aligned Movement's members were actually quite closely aligned with one or another of the superpowers (such as the People's Republic of China, an observer, or the Soviet Union, not participating in the Non-Aligned Movement), the movement still maintained cohesion throughout the Cold War, even despite several conflicts between members which also threatened the movement. In the years since the Cold War's end, it has focused on developing multilateral ties and connections as well as unity among the developing nations of the world, especially those within the Global South.
Origins and the Cold War
Drawing on the principles agreed at the Bandung Conference in 1955, the Non-Aligned Movement as an organization was founded on the Brijuni islands in Yugoslavia in 1956 and was formalized by signing the Declaration of Brijuni on 19 July 1956. The Declaration was signed by Yugoslavia's president, Josip Broz Tito, India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt's second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser. One of the quotations within the Declaration is "Peace can not be achieved with separation, but with the aspiration towards collective security in global terms and expansion of freedom, as well as terminating the domination of one country over another". According to Rejaul Karim Laskar, an ideologue of the Congress party which ruled India for most part of the Cold War years, the Non-Aligned Movement arose from the desire of Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of the newly independent countries of the third world to guard their independence "in face of complex international situation demanding allegiance to either two warring superpowers ".
The Movement advocates a middle course for states in the developing world between the Western and Eastern Blocs during the Cold War. The phrase itself was first used to represent the doctrine by Indian diplomat V. K. Krishna Menon in 1953, at the United Nations.
But it soon after became the name to refer to the participants of the Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries first held in 1961. The term "non-alignment" was established in 1953 at the United Nations. Nehru used the phrase in a 1954 speech in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In this speech, Zhou Enlai and Nehru described the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations called Panchsheel (five restraints); these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:
- Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
- Mutual non-aggression.
- Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs.
- Equality and mutual benefit.
- Peaceful co-existence.
A significant milestone in the development of the Non-Aligned Movement was the 1955 Bandung Conference, a conference of Asian and African states hosted by Indonesian president Sukarno, who gave a significant contribution to promote this movement. Bringing together Sukarno, U Nu, Nasser, Nehru, Tito, Nkrumah and Menon with the likes of Ho Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai, and Norodom Sihanouk, as well as U Thant and a young Indira Gandhi, the conference adopted a "declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation", which included Zhou Enlai and Nehru's five principles, and a collective pledge to remain neutral in the Cold War. Six years after Bandung, an initiative of Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito led to the first Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, which was held in September 1961 in Belgrade. The term non-aligned movement appears first in the fifth conference in 1976, where participating countries are denoted as members of the movement.
Belgrade Conference, September 1961 with representatives from Afghanistan
, Saudi Arabia
, Sri Lanka
, the United Arab Republic
, and Yugoslavia
At the Lusaka Conference in September 1970, the member nations added as aims of the movement the peaceful resolution of disputes and the abstention from the big power military alliances and pacts. Another added aim was opposition to stationing of military bases in foreign countries.
Some members were involved in serious conflicts with other members (e.g. India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq).
In the 1970s, Cuba made a major effort to assume a leadership role in the world's nonalignment movement, which represented over 90 nations. Cuban combat troops in Angola greatly impressed fellow non-aligned nations.
Cuba also established military advisory missions and economic and social reform programs. The 1976 world conference of the Non-Aligned Movement applauded Cuban internationalism, "which assisted the people of Angola in frustrating the expansionist and colonialist strategy of South Africa's racist regime and its allies." The next nonaligned conference was scheduled for Havana in 1979, to be chaired by Fidel Castro, with his becoming the de facto spokesman for the Movement. The conference in September 1979 marked the zenith of Cuban prestige. Most, but not all, attendees believed that Cuba was not aligned with the Soviet camp in the Cold War. However, in December 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan's civil war. At the time, Afghanistan was also an active member of the Nonaligned Movement. At the United Nations, Nonaligned members voted 56 to 9, with 26 abstaining, to condemn the Soviet Union. Cuba in fact was deeply in debt financially and politically to Moscow and voted against the resolution. It lost its reputation as nonaligned in the Cold War. Castro, instead of becoming a high-profile spokesman for the Movement, remained quiet and inactive, and in 1983 leadership passed to India, which had abstained on the UN vote, though India maintained close ties with the Soviet Union and with the Soviet puppet regime in Kabul. Cuba lost its bid to become a member of the United Nations Security Council and its ambitions for a role in global leadership had totally collapsed. More broadly the Movement was deeply split over the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. Although Moscow's allies supported the Soviet intervention, other members of the movement (particularly predominantly Muslim states) condemned it.
Because the Non-Aligned Movement was formed as an attempt to thaw out the Cold War, it has struggled to find relevance since the Cold War ended. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a founding member, its membership was suspended in 1992 at the regular Ministerial Meeting of the Movement, held in New York during the regular yearly session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The successor states of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have expressed little interest in membership, though Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have observer status. In 2004, Malta and Cyprus ceased to be members and joined the European Union. Belarus is the only member of the Movement in Europe. Azerbaijan and Fiji are the most recent entrants, joining in 2011. The applications of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Costa Rica were rejected in 1995 and 1998, respectively.
Since the end of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement has been forced to redefine itself and reinvent its purpose in the current world system. A major question has been whether any of its foundational ideologies, principally national independence, territorial integrity, and the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, can be applied to contemporary issues. The movement has emphasised its principles of multilateralism, equality, and mutual non-aggression in attempting to become a stronger voice for the global South, and an instrument that can be used to promote the needs of member nations at the international level and strengthen their political leverage when negotiating with developed nations. In its efforts to advance Southern interests, the movement has stressed the importance of cooperation and unity amongst member states, but as in the past, cohesion remains a problem since the size of the organisation and the divergence of agendas and allegiances present the ongoing potential for fragmentation. While agreement on basic principles has been smooth, taking definitive action vis-à-vis particular international issues has been rare, with the movement preferring to assert its criticism or support rather than pass hard-line resolutions.
The movement continues to see a role for itself, as in its view, the world's poorest nations remain exploited and marginalised, no longer by opposing superpowers, but rather in a uni-polar world, and it is Western hegemony and neo-colonialism that the movement has really re-aligned itself against. It opposes the foreign occupation, interference in internal affairs and aggressive unilateral measures, but it has also shifted to focus on the socio-economic challenges facing member states, especially the inequalities manifested by globalization and the implications of neo-liberal policies. The Non-Aligned Movement has identified economic underdevelopment, poverty, and social injustices as growing threats to peace and security.
The 16th NAM summit took place in Tehran, Iran, from 26 to 31 August 2012. According to Mehr News Agency, representatives from over 150 countries were scheduled to attend. Attendance at the highest level includes 27 presidents, two kings and emirs, seven prime ministers, nine vice presidents, two parliament spokesmen and five special envoys. At the summit, Iran took over from Egypt as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement for the period 2012 to 2015. The 17th NAM Summit was held in Venezuela in 2016.
In 2019, Colombia and Peru suspended their participation in the Movement under the presidency of Venezuela because their governments did not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's government.
Organizational structure and membership
The movement stems from a desire not to be aligned within a geopolitical/military structure and therefore itself does not have a very strict organizational structure. Some organizational basics were defined at the 1996 Cartagena Document on Methodology The Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned States is "the highest decision making authority". The chairmanship rotates between countries and changes at every summit of heads of state or government to the country organizing the summit.
Requirements for membership of the Non-Aligned Movement coincide with the key beliefs of the United Nations. The current requirements are that the candidate country has displayed practices in accordance with the ten "Bandung principles" of 1955:
- Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
- Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
- Recognition of the movements for national independence.
- Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
- Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
- Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
- Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
- Respect for justice and international obligations.
Policies and ideology
The South Africa Conference NAM logo
Chairpersons of the NAM had included such diverse figures as Suharto, militaristic anti-communist, and Nelson Mandela, a democratic socialist and famous anti-apartheid activist. Consisting of many governments with vastly different ideologies, the Non-Aligned Movement is unified by its declared commitment to world peace and security. At the seventh summit held in New Delhi in March 1983, the movement described itself as "history's biggest peace movement". The movement places equal emphasis on disarmament. NAM's commitment to peace pre-dates its formal institutionalisation in 1961. The Brioni meeting between heads of governments of India, Egypt and Yugoslavia in 1956 recognized that there exists a vital link between struggle for peace and endeavours for disarmament.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the NAM also sponsored campaigns for restructuring commercial relations between developed and developing nations, namely the New International Economic Order (NIEO), and its cultural offspring, the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO). The latter, on its own, sparked a Non-Aligned initiative on cooperation for communications, the Non-Aligned News Agencies Pool, created in 1975 and later converted into the NAM News Network in 2005.
The Non-Aligned Movement espouses policies and practices of cooperation, especially those that are multilateral and provide mutual benefit to all those involved. Many of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement are also members of the United Nations. Both organisations have a stated policy of peaceful cooperation, yet the successes the NAM has had with multilateral agreements tend to be ignored by the larger, western and developed nation dominated UN. African concerns about apartheid were linked with Arab-Asian concerns about Palestine and multilateral cooperation in these areas has enjoyed moderate success. The Non-Aligned Movement has played a major role in various ideological conflicts throughout its existence, including extreme opposition to apartheid governments and support of guerrilla movements in various locations, including Rhodesia and South Africa.
Current activities and positions
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Criticism of US policy
In recent years the organization has criticized certain aspects of US foreign policy. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the War on Terrorism, its attempts to stifle Iran and North Korea's nuclear plans, and its other actions have been denounced by some members of the Non-Aligned Movement as attempts to run roughshod over the sovereignty of smaller nations; at the most recent summit, Kim Yong-nam, the head of North Korea's parliament, stated, "The United States is attempting to deprive other countries of even their legitimate right to peaceful nuclear activities."
Self-determination of Puerto Rico
Since 1961, the organization has supported the discussion of the case of Puerto Rico's self-determination before the United Nations. A resolution on the matter was to be proposed on the XV Summit by the Hostosian National Independence Movement.
Self-determination of Western Sahara
Since 1973, the group has supported the discussion of the case of Western Sahara's self-determination before the United Nations. The movement reaffirmed in its meeting (Sharm El Sheikh 2009) the support to the Self-determination of the Sahrawi people by choosing between any valid option, welcomed the direct conversations between the parties, and remembered the responsibility of the United Nations on the Sahrawi issue.
The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state. Issues such as globalization, the debt burden, unfair trade practices, the decline in foreign aid, donor conditionality, and the lack of democracy in international financial decision-making are cited as factors inhibiting development.
Reforms of the UN
The movement has been outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, stating that the organisation has been used by powerful states in ways that violate the movement's principles. It has made a number of recommendations that it says would strengthen the representation and power of "non-aligned" states. The proposed UN reforms are also aimed at improving the transparency and democracy of UN decision-making. The UN Security Council is the element it considers the most distorted, undemocratic, and in need of reshaping.
The movement has collaborated with other organisations of the developing world – primarily the Group of 77 – forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and documents representing the shared interests of both groups. This dialogue and cooperation can be taken as an effort to increase the global awareness about the organisation and bolster its political clout.
Cultural diversity and human rights
The movement accepts the universality of human rights and social justice, but fiercely resists cultural homogenisation.
In line with its views on sovereignty, the organisation appeals for the protection of cultural diversity, and the tolerance of the religious, socio-cultural, and historical particularities that define human rights in a specific region.
Working groups, task forces, committees
- Committee on Palestine
- High-Level Working Group for the Restructuring of the United Nations
- Joint Coordinating Committee (chaired by Chairman of G-77 and Chairman of NAM)
- Non-Aligned Security Caucus
- Standing Ministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation
- Task Force on Somalia
- Working Group on Disarmament
- Working Group on Human Rights
- Working Group on Peace-Keeping Operations
16th summit of the NAM, Tehran
The conference of Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Countries, often referred to as Non-Aligned Movement Summit is the main meeting within the movement and are held every few years:
A variety of ministerial meetings are held between the summit meetings. Some are specialist, such as the meeting on "Inter-Faith Dialogue and Co-operation for Peace", held in Manila, the Philippines, 16–18 March 2010. There is a general Conference of Foreign Ministers every three years. The most recent were in Bali, Indonesia, 23–27 May 2011 and Algiers, Algeria, 26–29 May 2014.
The Non-Aligned Movement celebrated its 50th anniversary in Belgrade on 5–6 September 2011.
An online summit titled "United Against Covid-19" conducted on May 4, 2020 on the initiative of the chairman of the NAM for the 2019–2022 period, addressed mainly the global struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemics and supporting NAM to increase its role in dealing with and mitigating the outcomes caused by this disease in NAM, as well as other countries.
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A chairperson is elected at each summit meeting. The Coordinating Bureau, also based at the UN, is the main instrument for directing the work of the movement's task forces, committees and working groups.
Members, observers and guests
Non-Aligned Movement Member Countries by Year Joined
The following countries are members of the NAM, arranged by continent, showing their year of admission:
Currently every African country (except South Sudan and Western Sahara) is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The following countries and organizations have observer status:
There is no permanent guest status, but often several non-member countries are represented as guests at conferences. In addition, a large number of organisations, both from within the UN system and from outside, are always invited as guests.
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Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who was elected by acclamation as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
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- ^ In a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General sent just prior to unification, the Ministers of Foreign affairs of North and South Yemen stated that "All treaties and agreements concluded between either the Yemen Arab Republic or the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and other States and international organizations in accordance with international law which are in force on 22 May 1990 will remain in effect, and international relations existing on 22 May 1990 between the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and the Yemen Arab Republic and other States will continue."Bühler, Konrad (2001). State Succession and Membership in International Organizations. Martinus Nijhoff Publisher. ISBN 9041115536.
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