What is Non-Alignment?
Many writers have used the term non-alignment to be synonymous to terms like isolationism, non- commitment, neutrality, or non-involvement. Yet for the student of IR, these terms are not inter- changeable. Isolationism implies adopting a policy of aloofness; non-commitment implies detachment generally in international relations; and non-involvement implies detachment from tensions specifically between power blocs. Political neutrality has the closest similarity to non-alignment. While the former implies a specific context, the latter refers to a broader and continuing international situation.
Non-Alignment implies keeping out of alliances in general and military pacts in particular. Conceptually it is not meant to be a policy of passive but of active involvement in the struggle against imperial and colonial determination. Non-Alignment is meant to be dynamic and constructive rather than static and negative.
Origin of NAM
The idea of non-alignment in international relations was first conceived in 1955. The founding members of the movement were Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Abdul Nasir of Egypt and Ahmad Sukarno of Indonesia. Now the Non-Aligned Movement is a Movement of 115 members representing the interests and priorities of developing countries. The Movement has its origin in the AsiaAfrica Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The meeting was convened upon the invitation of the Prime Ministers of Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan and brought together leaders of 29 states, mostly former colonies, from the two continents of Africa and Asia, to discuss common concerns and to develop joint policies in international relations. Prime Minister Nehru, the acknowledged senior statesman, along with Prime Ministers Soekarno and Nasser, led the conference.
At the first NAM meeting, Third World leaders shared their similar problems of resisting the pressures of the major powers, maintaining their independence and opposing colonialism and neo-colonialism, especially western domination.
The criteria of NAM membership were as follows:
- The country should have adopted an independent policy based on the coexistence of States with different political and social systems and on non-alignment or should be showing a trend in favor of such a policy.
- The country concerned should be consistently supporting the Movements for National Independence.
- The country should not be a member of a multilateral military alliance concluded in the context of Great Power conflicts.
- If a country has a bilateral military agreement with a Great Power, or is a member of a reg ional defense pact, the agreement or pact should not be one deliberately concluded in the context of Great Power conflicts.
- If it has conceded military bases to a Foreign Power the concession should not have been made in the context of Great Power conflicts.
Reasons for NAM’s Growth
A. Nationalism: Strong sense of nationalism amongst newly independent Asian, African and Latin American countries.
B. Anti-Colonial Sentiments: Weary of colonial powers, newly independent countries sought means to counter their continuing influence.
C. Economic Underdevelopment: Newly emerged countries wanted to develop themselves rather than waste resources by getting embroiled in Cold War tensions.
D. Visionary Leadership: the ability of towering personalities of developing nations to join hands with other nationalists.
E. Presence of UN system: the presence of a collective forum where newly emerged countries could meet and voice their collective concerns.
- Formulation of independent foreign policies
- Economic development by avoiding conflict and military build-ups
- Resistance to neo-colonialism and imperialism
- Strive for world peace by opposing war and nuclear armament
- Focus domestically on development and social welfare
NAM’s Institutional Structure
Standing Committee: This committee consists of 7 member countries elected on the basis of geographic distribution, on yearly rotation basis to undertake preparatory work for the yearly ministerial meeting held on the eve of the UN General Assembly session.
Coordinating Bureau: The Algiers Summit of 1973 recommended establishing the Bureau which consisting of 17 member states which work in the intervening period between Summits to monitor implementation of decisions and programs.
Council of Ministers: This council consists of foreign ministers of member states.
Council of Heads: Heads of states of all countries which are members of NAM are members of this Council
News Pool: The Non-Aligned Press Agencies Pool was established following the Delhi Conference in 1983 to facilitate dissemination of information between member states.
Non Alignment Movement Conferences
26 member nations attended the summit and supported the freedom struggles in Algeria, Tunisia, Angola and the Congo.
Cairo Summit, Egypt – 1964
47 member nations attended the summit and stressed the need for disarmament and non-interference.
Lusaka Summit, Zambia – 1970
54 member nations attended and decided to break off ties with Portugal and South Africa due to lack of compliance with UN decisions regarding decolonization and end of racial discrimination. The summit also called on Israel to withdraw from Palestine.
Algiers Summit, Algeria – 1973
76 member nations attended the summit and stressed the need for economic cooperation between developing countries and recognized that their fate rests primarily in their own hands.
Colombo Summit, Sri Lanka – 1976
86 member nations recognized the need to create new trade flows to make prosperity more widespread and equitable.
Havana Summit, Cuba – 1979
94 states attended the summit. Radical countries like Cuba and Vietnam urged NAM towards socialist bloc to fight anti-colonialism; westernized countries such as Singapore and Zaire urged need to ally with the West to avail access to resources and technological input. The Arab bloc also pressured NAM to expel Egypt for its unilateral agreement with Israel at Camp David. NAM resisted these pressures by condemning Egypt and Israel (without expelling them) and denouncing hegemonic designs of both superpowers.
New Delhi Summit, India – 1983
99 member nations urged for nuclear restraint and depoliticizing food aid and aimed to address increasing global inequalities.
Harare Summit, Zimbabwe – 1986
101 member nations participated and the Summit stressed the need to strengthen frontline states in Africa facing destabilization by intervention of Pretoria and for the need to pressure Pretoria to end apartheid in South Africa
Belgrade Summit, Yugoslavia – 1989
102 member nations participated and the Summit highlighted the need to hold free and fair elections in Namibia, the need to resolve the ongoing trouble in Palestine and Afghanistan.
Jakarta Summit, Indonesia – 1992
108 member nations attended but again there were tensions. Egypt, Cyprus and Indonesia favored closer ties with the West; Algeria Zimbabwe, Palestine and India wanted to confront the US; and Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Yemen and Libya wanted NAM to take on western hegemony.
There were also calls for NAM to be like a Trade Union of developing nations to gain global negotiating leverage.
Columbia Summit, Cartagena – 1995
This Summit recognized the need for reorienting NAM objectives in the unilateral world order. The Kashmir insurgency was also focused on.
Havana, Cuba (2000)
135 member nations focused on improving South to South cooperation and improving trade terms with northern countries to eradicate poverty.
India called for membership suspension of countries with military rule, but this proposal was unanimously rejected.
Kula Lumpur, Malaysia (2003)
Attended by 114 member nations, the focus was on the revitalization of the NAM, for addressing issues of global concern.
- Formulation: To formulate or design a policy or an organizational structure
- Welfare: Well being
- Embroiled: Get involved in
- Bilateral: involving two parties
- Apartheid: racial segregation
- Discrimination: unfair difference in attitude
- Reorientation: redirection
- Hegemony: exertion of domination
- Revitalization: reinvigoration or revival