“When we say our policy is one of Non-alignment, obviously we mean Non-alignment with military blocs. It is not a single native policy. It is a positive one.” -Jawaharlal Nehru
The term ‘non-alignment’ was first coined by George Liska, who used it to describe the policies of the states which did not join either of the two power blocs in world politics of the post war years. Non-alignment as a phenomenon in international politics appeared on the scene after the Second World War, representing an important force in shaping of the nature of international relations. Non-Alignment Movement took birth under such circumstances in 1961. To preserve their newly independent states, leaders of NAM decided to stay away from supporting any particular blocs of power. As the world is no longer bi-polar and its realities have changed, many critics and observers have questioned NAM’s relevance in the 21st century. This essay takes a look at the critiques and scope of NAM.
What is NAM?
After the Second World War in 1945, the world became divided into 2 power blocs of the – ‘east’ and ‘west’. Ideological, social and economic differences between the two blocs soon transformed into a ‘cold war’ between the two. This was also the period when many Asian and African countries had newly gained independence from colonial rule and were confronted with problems of their own, one of which was to maintain the newly found independence. 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 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.
The organization was formally 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
·Yugoslavia's President, Josip Broz Tito.
The first summit attended by 25 member states. At present NAM has 120 members and 17 observer countries.
The principles on which NAM was founded were:
·Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
·Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
·Equality and mutual benefit
NAM’s relevance at the end of cold-war situation
The purpose of the organisation was enumerated in Havana Declaration of 1979 to ensure 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 subjugation. During the cold war era the NAM played a vital role in stabilising the world order and preserving peace and security. Non alignment didn’t mean neutrality of state on global issues, it was always a peaceful intervention in world politics.
The Cold War ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then, some scholars have been of the opinion that NAM remains no more relevant and it has served its purpose. But on the other hand many scholars are of the view that, NAM’s mission remains more relevant than ever; in the light of the growing gulf between the rich and poor countries.
Those against argue:
·Cold war has ended
·Military blocs have tumbled down
·Military bases have become a thing of the past owing to advance in science and technology and its use for military purposes
·Trends towards disarmament have been gaining momentum since 1921
·Bi-polar world is non-existent
·Collapse of communism and communist blocs and resultant de- idealisation of world politics
·Irreversible trends towards peaceful co-existence and active economic cooperation
·Lack of Economic Pragmatism - many of the economic ideas which were in vogue in the past are updated today. However, many NAM members are rooted in ideas of socialism and state control, ideas popular at the time of Nehru and Nassir. This has made them impossible to move forward
·The statesmen who started NAM had a vision, today NAM has none. There is no leadership on global issues, and there are also disagreements among the members. As a result, the organization has no direction as to the path it should take
However, many have pointed towards an opinion to the contrary. They argue for the relevance of NAM because:
·Support of UN - Total strength of NAM i.e.120 members are a part of the General Assembly. That is why NAM members continue to have importance in UN
·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 in nuclear destruction. It demands complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. The movement also opposes the treaties on WMD (Weapon of Mass Destructions) which were not universal in nature.
·World peace - NAM has played an active role in preserving world peace. It still stands by its founding principles, ideas, and purpose to establish a peaceful and prosperous world. It has prohibited invasion of any country, promoted disarmament, and a sovereign world order.
·The interest of all Third World countries – it seeks pursuit of equality in world affairs through pooling the diplomatic resources of Third World states in international forums. NAM together with the group of 77 members succeeded to keep Third World issues on the agenda in most UN forums and agencies due to their numerical strength.
·The major thrust of NAM is the creation of a new world based on rational, democratic, equitable and non-exploitative inter-states relation.
·NAM has supported the concept of sustainable development and can lead the world towards sustainability. It can be used as larger platform for burning issues like climate change, migration, and global terrorism.
Its role in the present century would be strengthened by more South-South cooperation, which would mean, collaboration between 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. NAM’s spectrum could be further enlarged with the increasing concern worldwide over environmental issues over greenhouse gas emissions, health concerns, drug trafficking, rising poverty, food crisis and unemployment, etc. It could also address the rising digital divide between the rich and poor and fight against all shades of extremism, xenophobia, ethnic nationalism and regional wars.
NAM with a passage of time emerged as an alternative world power. With its strength and motive to democratise the international system it is an alternative power which promotes equality and peace all over the world and new dynamics to the existing world politics.
In 2009, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that the relevance of the non-aligned movement had “Never been greater than today” and had called for greater solidarity among members in tackling challenges, including the financial crisis, energy security, climate change and the UN reforms. “History has shown that nonalignment is an idea that evolved but does not fade. We must take it forward, harnessing it to meet the challenges of today”, Singh had expressed.
NAM has not become redundant but needs to be rejuvenated. 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 in the future too. NAM can play the most important role in protecting the economic interest of the Third World countries as well as promoting south-south cooperation.
(Sources: dadc.du.in / ijcrt.in )