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Can the Non-Aligned Movement cope with the changes of a new world?

Samar Fatany

Published: Updated:

The Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference that brought together renowned Asian and African leaders who opposed the cold war politics of the U.S. and Russia.

The movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961 by brave and visionary leaders of the developing world who defied global threats and protected the interests of their nations.

Today NAM represents 123 countries of the world, almost three-fourths of mankind. However, after the end of the Cold War it has struggled to contain internal conflicts, some member states were suspended, some showed no interest and others maintained observer status.

Adapt or perish

Obviously, the movement cannot survive as an effective global organization if it continues to adopt the past rhetoric of imperialist and colonialist threats and pursues an antagonistic strategy against the superpowers alienating itself from the more advanced nations of the world. It should act as a bridge between the rich developed nations and the aspiring underdeveloped nations.

The movement cannot survive as an effective global organization if it continues to adopt the past rhetoric of imperialist and colonialist threats and pursues an antagonistic strategy against the superpowers alienating itself from the more advanced nations of the world

Samar Fatany

The organization is recognized by the United Nations.

It has so far held 16 regular summits and continues to advocate an equal balance of power between the major nations and calls for global cooperation to address common challenges through international organizations such as the United Nations.

The “Final Document” that was adopted during the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Egypt in May 2012 addressed four major controversial issues that are a source of conflict between NAM states and Western powers.

They include the rejection of all forms of occupation including the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel; the rejection of the use of weapons of mass destruction and the need for the disarmament of nuclear weapons; the condemnation of unilateral sanctions and the urgent need to replace the unipolar management of international politics with collective management.

Iranian importance

The document also emphasized the need for a Middle East free from nuclear weapons and the “inalienable” right of all NAM member states for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, envisaged by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The issue remains complicated and a lot depends on the U.S. rapprochement with Iran.

In Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, NAM member states discussed the establishment of a task force in New York to pursue Palestine’s membership in the United Nations and act against Israel’s “illegal” measures against Palestinians, they also proposed solutions for the Syrian crisis with the cooperation of the United Nations.

Hopefully the 17th summit of NAM which will be held later this year can come up with a solution for the Syrian crisis.

NAM states have repeatedly called for multilateralism and the reform of the UN system. NAM states criticize the U.N. Security Council as “unjust” and “undemocratic” and accuse the US of abusing it.

They reject the fact that the Security Council has more power than the General Assembly and criticize the veto rights of its permanent members.

This issue has been the subject of many debates and NAM states continue to push for reforming the U.N. The movement accuses the U.S. of protecting only the interests of Western countries in the name of “human rights”, and it rejects U.S. military intervention in other countries in the name of “democracy” and targeting civilians in the name of “combating terrorism.”

Member states must strive to create a better understanding with the US and initiate a meaningful dialogue to eliminate such fears and suspicions.

Dollar dominance

Also on the NAM agenda is the issue of the monopolization of the financial mechanisms in the world by the U.S. dollar, and member states discussed earlier the establishment of a work group in NY to study the mechanisms of plural management of the world.

The movement strives to improve the “political productivity” of the Non-Aligned Movement in global governance. The NAM foreign ministers meeting that was held in Accra in September 1991 pointed out the need for joint action by nonaligned countries, such as eradicating poverty, hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy.

In a declaration entitled, A World in Transition from Diminishing Confrontation Towards Increasing Cooperation, the movement called for a just and fair international economic order.

Today, the basic NAM demands continue to be centered around these issues and a call for world order and prosperity.

China and NAM states urge the need for stronger powers to guide and shape smaller powers in mutually beneficial directions, not to dominate and manipulate them.

They assert that in this world, no single power should keep other powers in a condition of military or political subservience, and no power should threaten the sovereignty of another without the endorsement of the international community.

Valid demands

Hopefully, these valid demands by NAM states will one day be respected and enforced by the U.N. to protect the world from conflicts and wars.

The Non-Aligned Movement founded in 1961 in Belgrade was the initiative of six legendary leaders, namely Sukarno of Indonesia, Nehru of India, Tito of Yugoslavia, Nasser of Egypt, U Nu of Burma and Nkrumah of Ghana who took a stand in 1955 to confront the economic and political challenges of the underdeveloped and developing countries of Asia and Africa.

Today, the new leaders of the movement representing Asia, Africa and Latin America need to rise up to the occasion and face new regional and international challenges that are more hostile and antagonistic.

It remains to be seen if the leaders of NAM can be as effective as the founders of the movement who were instrumental in safeguarding the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of their countries.


This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 23, 2015.


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Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.