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Non-Aligned Movement

The Nonaligned Movement (NAM) was established during the Cold War to signal its independence from the two major blocs – NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The Cold War is over and the East and West caucus almost as often together as they do separately. The Non-Aligned Movement, originally formed as a counterpoint to NATO and the Warsaw Pact, has struggled to define its purpose and establish common goals since the end of the Cold War. The NAM continues to serve as a coordinating point for the 120 developing countries that are members. With 120 member states, the Non-Aligned Movement is the second-largest international body after the United Nations. It has 53 members from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organizations.

The conference in Bandung is seen as the cornerstone for the founding of the movement. The principles that would govern relations among large and small nations, known as the "Ten Principles of Bandung," were proclaimed at that Conference. Similar principles were adopted later as the main goals and objectives of the policy of non-alignment.

The official announcement of NAM came in 1961 in Belgrade when 25 countries attended the Non-Aligned Movement's First Summit. The Non-Aligned Movement's [NAM] first summit took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in June, 1961, kicking off a major anti-imperialist movement that sought to end colonialism and fight against Western domination. Its establishment came at a time when the colonial system was in decline and independence struggles raged across Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world.

The founding members of the movement and its lasting leaders were some of the 19 head of states of newly decolonized nations who had come together in Bandung in 1955 in search of unity against imperialism and colonialism while also working with revolutionary leaders in other countries to help them achieve their own independence and liberation from Western colonizers. Those leader were Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. The first Summit was attended by: Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cambodia, Srilanka, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yugoslavia.

While ostensibly a communist state, Yugoslavia broke away from the Soviet sphere of influence in 1948, became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, and adopted a more de-centralized and less repressive form of government as compared with other East European communist states during the Cold War.

Cuba was the only country from Latin America that attended the conference, with all the other countries being either from Africa or Asia. The Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro had just ousted the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Cuba held the presidency of NAM twice since its founding once in 1979 and again in 2006. In 1979, Cuban President Fidel Castro said the purpose of the organization was 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..."

The Non-Aligned Movement has been dedicated since its creation in 1961 to defend the liberation struggles of the people of Africa, Asia, Latin America and other nations that have been described in the past as part of the "Third World." Member states have a common set of principles: preserve national independence, do not join any imperial power bloc, reject the establishment of foreign military bases, defend the right of people to self-determination, and fight for general and complete disarmament.

NAM was the leading international voice against the apartheid regime in South Africa as it took political and economic actions against the South African government and economically assisted African countries supporting the anti-apartheid movement who faced sanctions over their support. The support was strongly felt during the 1986 NAM Summit in Zimbabwe, which put the struggle to end apartheid at the center of its agenda. “We must be clear that the front-line states (Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe) and others will suffer some damage to their economy and face harsh retaliations from Pretoria,” Rajiv Gandhi, then-Indian prime minister and outgoing president of NAM, said ahead of the meeting. Gandhi also said that NAM countries should not wait for a “concerted international action” before imposing sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Since 1973, NAM has supported the Western Sahara's right to self-determination before the United Nations. In an Algiers meeting of NAM foreign ministers in 2014, the movement issued a declaration stressing its support for the process of negotiations on the regional dispute over the Western Sahara under the support of the U.N. in order to achieve a “mutually acceptable political solution.”

Since its founding, NAM has expressed support for the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States. Recently, the U.N.’s Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution calling on the U.S. to expedite a process that “would allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence.” At the committee's meeting Iran’s representative, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence on the basis of the U.N.’s long-standing laws and regulations.

There was increasing interest in the 1990s in strengthening direct collaboration among country programs of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to promote development. As such, heads of states and governments of the non-aligned countries met September 1992 to discuss South-South collaboration in promoting development. The resulting "Jakarta Message: a Call for Collective Action and the Democratization of International Relations" stressed the need for a multilateral shift of focus in international relations toward a strengthening of multilateral cooperation for development.

According to the State of World Population 1992 published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the global population will increase by an average of 97 million/year until the end of the 20th century, 90 million/year until 2025, and 61 million/year until 2050. The UNFPA report predicts that by 2050 world population will almost double, and 97% of the increase will be in developing countries. Population was one of the few areas specifically addressed at the conference requiring multilateral cooperation. Partially designed to prepare member countries for the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, the meeting of country ministers called for further talks in the interest of intensifying the exchange of information on NAM countries' population policies and programs, as well as the organization of South-South cooperation and assistance arrangements.

In the new century, segments of the media, public, and think tankers are dubious of the utility of NAM. They derided the movement as "an entity of hibernation devoid of leadership" for NAM's failure to join the mainstream of the globalized economy and accused NAM of being "unable to reinvent itself to effect change in the UN". The 07 September 2006 issue of the "Asian Age", went so far as to headline a story with "NAM is dead", arguing that the group is "antiquated" and "lacks influence".

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Page last modified: 11-12-2016 18:40:55 ZULU