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Relevance of Non-Alignment Movement (NAM)

What is NAM?

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a group of states which are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. As of 2012, the movement has 120 members. The organization was founded in Belgrade in 1961, and was largely conceived by India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru; Indonesia's first president, Sukarno; Egypt's second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser; Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah; and Yugoslavia's President, Josip Broz Tito.

On what Principles does NAM works?

J.L. Nehru has described the five pillars 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

Why was it started?

After the Second World War, the world was divided into two blocs West and East led by USA and USSR respectively and the cold war between them was started. There were some countries like India who were newly independent of colonial rule wanted to be sovereign. Thus, in 1955, in Bandung (Indonesia), newly independents states of Africa and Asia gathered to inaugurate a new approach to inter-state relations: non-alignment. Fresh out of the darkness of colonial rule, these new states, they felt, should not be sucked into alignments with the West or the East. They needed to shelter together, to forge an alternative, to fight to build a peaceful world order where the obligations of the UN Charter could be met. So these were the states that were neither in western bloc nor in eastern bloc but remained non-aligned to these two.

What is relevance of NAM today?

According to the critics, NAM is no longer relevant because of the changed international environment, from Bi-polar to uni-polar. But whatever the world is – bipolar, multi-polar or unipolar, non-alignment as a foreign policy of the small / weak states will continue to remain valid. 

In other words, the policy will last as long as the sovereign nation states exist.

Non-alignment with the hegemony of great powers- The declaration of the Jakarta Summit conference 1992 assured, NAM has contributed to the ending of bipolar in the world and to the elimination of the cold war. Membership of the NAM has more than quadrupled from about 25 states in 1961 to 118 today. There could be no hope of survival in the age of nuclear bombs, if war happens. Therefore, NAM is then a pioneer nuclear destruction. It demanded complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. The movement also stood opposed to the treaties on WMD (Weapon of Mass Destructions) which were not universal in nature.

Further, it looks after the interest of all Third World countries. Pursuit of equality in world affairs through pooling the diplomatic resources of Third World states in international forums. Equality should here be understood in political-economic terms. NAM together with the Group of 77 (G77–largely made up of NAM members) succeeded to keep Third World issues on the agenda in most UN forums and agencies due to their numerical strength. In the UN General Assembly NAM played a significant role in transferring the permanent seat in the UNSC previously filled by the Republic of China (Taiwan) to mainland China. This can also help India getting a UNSC membership.

Thus, the major thrust of NAM is the creation of a new world based on rational, democratic, equitable and non-exploitative inter-states relation. The Non-Alignment countries have to learn to maneuver among them and to successfully face the menace of new colonialism that is sought to be imposed through various WTO round. Thus, the NAM continued to be relevance so long as there is exploitation, war, hunger, poverty and disease on the earth. Its goals do not merely serve the national interest of member state but it stand to promote the cause humanity. Perhaps the most important role for NAM today lies in framing a concrete economic agenda for a just and fair international economic order. The WTO rules and procedures have failed to provide adequate economic gains to the Third World.

How can NAM be strengthened?

Its role in the present century would be strengthened by more South-South cooperation, which would mean, by and large, collaboration between and among the NAM countries and defending their interests from fast expanding economic and technological power of the North. NAM should develop a progressive agenda on the fundamental values of democracy, human rights and multiculturalism. The preservation and consolidation of democracy throughout its membership is a major challenge. NAM’s spectrum could be further enlarged with the increasing concern worldwide over environmental issues over greenhouse gas emissions, health concerns especially AIDS, drug trafficking, rising instances of poverty, food crisis and unemployment mostly within the NAM members and LDC countries, the rising digital divide between the rich and poor and fight against all shades of extremism, xenophobia, ethnic nationalism and regional wars.

Non-Alignment has not lost any of its relevance rather it has stood the test of time. It has served the useful purpose of protecting and preserving the interest of the Third World countries well in the past, so it is also expected to serve their interest well in the future to come. NAM can play the most important role in protecting the economic interest of the Third World countries as well as promoting south-south cooperation. Thus the philosophy of NAM is as relevant as ever for the Third World.



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