Non-Aligned Movement

18th May – Non-Aligned Movement

The idea of Non-Aligned Movement

The idea of Non-Alignment in the international discourse is often being scoffed as anachronistic and archaic especially in the 21st century political milieu where brute power plays out at will. Multilateralism and its notional institutions either need renewal, reorientation or resuscitation. Let us see how the Non-Aligned Movement plays out today in world politics.

Origins of Non-Aigned Movement –

  • It was in 1955 at Bandung, Indonesia, when gripped by the tug of cold war the newly independent countries’ leaders chose to work out an alternate collaborative mechanism that could give them a voice in the spirit of South-South cooperation. They did not wish to be drawn into the Super power politics and hegemony. They also wished to support the aspirations of independence from the colonial rule of people around the developing world.
  • Hence, President Suharto of Indonesia invited leaders from India, Egypt and Yugoslavia, Ghana among others for the Bandung Conference of Asian -African countries.
  • Prominent among them were President Josep Brez Tito of Yugoslavia; Pandit Nehru, then Prime Minister of India; President Gemal Abdel Nasser of Egypt; Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam; and Zhou en Lai of China among others. They agreed to adopt a “Declaration for World Peace and Cooperation”.
  • In 1961 some six decades ago, Marshal Tito hosted the first Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Non-aligned countries in Belgrade.
  • In 1970 at the Lusaka meet the members agreed to add “peaceful resolution of disputes and abstention from the big power military alliances as well as pacts”. They also expressed their opposition to stationing of foreign troops and bases.
  • NAM has eventually evolved into the second biggest organisation after the UN with nearly 120 members even if some dismissed it as a coalition of the week or talking shop of a routine kind. Nearly all African countries are the members.

18th Non-Aigned Movement Summit –

  • 18 NAM Summits have been held – last one being at Baku, from October 28-29, 2019, under the Chairmanship of President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan.
  • At this conference the focus was on upholding the Bandung principles to ensure a concerted and adequate response to challenges of the contemporary world.

The Chinese hand in NAM –

  • The world has changed a lot so did the priorities of many members over time. In the 1955 at Bandung Chinese Communist Party was looking for representative legitimacy against its rival Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) among the developing world.
  • Taiwan opposed the idea of NAM and tried to create another anti-communist platform (APACL Asian People’s Anti Communist League) with the help of South Korea and Philippines to ideologically fight against communist China, Soviet Union and new Bandung recipe.
  • Even at Bandung there were differences and opposition to include PRC. Today China is an economic global power which in its run for the top spot has stepped on many a toe.

Relevance of NAM –

  • Sitting on the fence could be an option but NAM has actively taken up many longstanding international issues and stayed focussed even though the efficacy and the outcome may be debatable.
  • The Non-Aligned Movement will have to continually renew its mandate in keeping with global realities not only of power politics and short-term gains but key issues like Climate Change, Counter -Terrorism, and reforms of WTO and WHO as well as focus on implementation of SDGs and equitable distribution of global commons and goods.

India and NAM –

  • Indian foreign policy is not unifocal in so far as its use of available instruments of diplomatic interaction and engagement is concerned. Deepening bilateral ties remains the primary mover in the international discourse. But India has always looked at the world from a globalised prism of intersecting interests and objectives and has often taken the lead to even create new multilateral and plurilateral platforms. NAM is one such organisation but not the only one.
  • This is an age of alliances and plethora of multilateral initiatives across the global spectrum and even crosscutting the organisational multiplicity given the newer economic and security challenges especially in the post-cold war scenario where balance of power matrix needed to be redefined. India is overly active in the bilateral context through “selective and issue based alliances” and multilateral fora including in the NAM.

SourceVIF India

QUESTION – The end of power blocs and the emergence of multiple blocs have increased the relevance of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as opposed to the opposite views. Discuss it in context of India’s global ambitions.

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