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Non-Aligned Movement(NAM)

I. Introduction:

1. Three Basic Principles of NAM:

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was based on three basic principles:
Disarmament Autonomy of decision making for developing countries Development. Experts feel that these principles need to be re-evaluated in the context of the present circumstances.

2. Need for Redefinition of Basic Goals of NAM:
NAM needs to redefine its basic goals and objectives as globalization and the IMF-directed economic restructuring has led to a lesser role of the State in development except for infrastructure and human resource development.

3. Threats to the Security of Developing Nations:
Experts feel that there is a change in the nature of the security problems facing the developing nations and the international community. International terrorism, covert wars, ethno-nationalism, narcotics, organised crime, money laundering, religious fundamentalism etc. have replaced nuclear arms race and direct military intervention by major powers as the major threats to the security of developing nations.

4. Need for a Polycentric Balance of Power:
It will be in the interest of the developing nations, if there is a polycentric balance of power in the globe instead of a unipolar system. Russia, China and France are in favour of a polycentric world. In a polycentric world the major powers will balance and countervail each other thereby reducing the tendency for regional hegemonism. In this context Non-Alignment would mean that the developing nations need not align themselves with any of the major powers in view of the strategic manoeuvrability provided by the polycentric balance, according to analysts.

5. NAM Members can Work Out a Common Strategy in Multilateral Trade Negotiations:
On the economic front, the NAM members can work out a common strategy in relation to the working of the WTO, IMF, World Bank, etc.

6. Relevance of NAM will Depend on the Adoption of the Movement to the Context of Current Circumstances:
Finally, analysts feel that the continuance of NAM and its relevance to international politics will depend on the adoption of the movement to the context of the current circumstances.

II. Background:

1.Third Alternative
The Non-Aligned Movement emerged as a third alternative in a bipolar world represented by the two super powers- U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the post World War-II period.

The foundation of NAM was laid at Bandung (Indonesia) in 1955. The NAM came into existence in 1961, at Belgrade (Yugoslavia).

3.India Founder Member:
India is the founder member of NAM along with Egypt and Yugoslavia. According to India’s former Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru “Non-Alignment is the belief that each country has not only the right to freedom but also to decide its own policy and way of life”.

118 countries. NAM also has 35 observers and guests, including the US, Germany, Canada, Australia, China, Russia and Italy.

Held every three years. The 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, was held in Havana from September 15-16, 2006.

6.Focus of NAM:
The main focus of NAM has been to stay clear of military alliances, to avoid meagre resources on arms and reallocate these for economic and social development.

7.Basic Features:
There are two basic features of NAM: a) All decisions are taken by consensus and not by a majority and minority vote. b) Bilateral issues and disputes cannot be discussed in NAM.

8.Main Pillar of India’s Foreign Policy:
Since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, Non-Alignment has been the main pillar of India’s Foreign Policy.

9.Low GDP of NAM Nations:
The NAM countries account for 51 per cent of the world’s population, 45 per cent of arable land, 86 per cent of oil reserves and 44 per cent of the global forests. Still the GDP of the NAM countries makes up only seven per cent of the world’s total.

10.Problems of NAM Countries:
The problems faced by NAM countries include poverty, debt and conditionalities put up by the developed countries on trade and aid.

III. Relevance of NAM:

1. Political Importance:
With the end of the Cold War and the changed global scenario the relevance of NAM has been severely questioned. It is argued that NAM’s political importance as a third force in the bipolar world is unlikely to be reproduced in the current global context.

2. Bargaining Power Decreased:
Critics feel that NAM’s bargaining power and leverage have shrunk in the post Cold-War era.

3. Current Relevance of NAM the Same as During the Cold War:
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointed out that the non-alignment was a state of mind, the ability to think independently of the options to widen the development choices, and currently it was as relevant as it was during the Cold War. He stressed that NAM could play a reconciling role in a world marked by terror and conflict.

4. Relevance of NAM to India:

International Balance of Power:
India’s former Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, developed Non-Alignment basically as a national strategy to secure India’s interests in a bipolar world. However, in the changed international context it is essential that India should reassess the emerging international balance of power and play its role accordingly.

Advance India’s Global Role:
Non-Alignment was designed to safeguard Indian security and interests and advance India’s role in the world. Analysts feel that India should re-evaluate its national strategy, goals and objectives based on the present international reality.

Polycentric Approach:
India’s approach should be polycentric and should focus on developing its own role as one of the balancers of power. Thus, if India becomes one of the major balancing powers in the international system it can help the Non-Aligned more effectively, according to analysts.

A. Arguments in Favour of NAM:

1. Largest Forum for Developing Countries:
NAM still exists as the largest forum of developing countries with 118 members. Barring the UN no other organisation has so many members. The members of NAM are spread throughout the globe covering all continents and geographical regions. Most of the members are poor and this could form the basis of a joint action to redress these basic problems, according to analysts.

2. New Barriers in the World Make NAM More Relevant:
The end of the Cold War has marked the beginning of a new division in the world. The new barriers include, non-tariff trade barriers, technological barriers and financial barriers. The need is to join forces through NAM in the quest of a common ideal for freedom.

3. Political Relevance:

Crucial Role in International Arena:
Finally, NAM is the only forum for projecting the hopes and aspirations of almost half of the countries of the world and pursuing their causes which enhance and enrich their national interests. Thus, NAM, still has a crucial role to play in the international arena.

Countervailing Force:
The nature of the new world order suggests that NAM has a greater relevance as a countervailing force. In the post Cold-War era has seen that emergence of a unipolar world where there are no checks and balances that were provided earlier by the competing Super powers. Thus, in the current unipolar world no individual country can provide the checks and balances. Only a large group of countries like NAM can provide those checks and balances.

Alternative View:
The movement is needed to articulate an alternative view in the international relations especially against the western powers.

4. Economic Relevance:

More Economically Viable Than Ever Before:
Analysts feel that NAM is more economically viable than ever before. Currently the NAM countries are financially stronger. Thus the goal of self-reliance of the South is within reach and NAM needs to focus on economic cooperation in the South.

Size of the Market Advantageous:
The size of the market provided by the developing countries places them in an advantageous position. Through NAM it is possible for the member states to pressure the developed nations to change the unfavourable terms of trade and also get remunerative prices for their products.

Significance of South-South Cooperation for Energy Security:
Analysts point out that South is the major producer of energy and with the economies rapidly growing it will soon become the major consumer of energy. Cooperation among NAM countries would enhance the energy security of the South.

5. Strengthening International Institutions:
NAM can still work for the strengthening of international institutions including the UN, protection of environment, promotion of human rights and disarmament.

B. Arguments Against NAM:

1. Product of Cold War:
NAM was a product of the Cold War and has no place in the changed international relations where there are no blocs.

2. Diminishing Commitment:
The end of decolonisation and apartheid has left NAM with virtually no issues to unite. The commitment and interest of member countries to NAM has diminished proportionately.

3. NAM Summits are Talking Shops:
NAM Summits are reduced to mere talking shops where the focus is shifted from the real issues of concern to the developing nations. This argument is supported by the fact that many NAM members articulate their demands through regional fora which are more focussed and effective.

4. Vulnerable to Big Power Influence:
The movement is more vulnerable to great power influence than before. This can be seen from the failure of NAM to influence the Iran-Iraq war, indefinite extension of the NPT, voting for the CTBT and the disunity shown in forums such as the WTO.

5. Failed as an Effective Group:
Finally, it is argued that NAM has failed to perform the basic functions required of an effective group. It has little political leverage and has not served as an effective channel for the North-South dialogue.

IV. India’s Proposals for a new NAM Agenda:

India Will Play Its Part in Revitalising NAM:
At the 14th NAM Summit in Havana, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised that India, as a founder member of NAM, would play its part in helping NAM revitalise itself so as to pursue the shared interests of its member States in a transformed world.

NAM Must Focus on Urgent Trans-National Issues:
Dr. Singh told the NAM Summit that the collective message of the Summit must focus on urgent trans-national issues such as energy security, terrorism, pandemics and environment.

Proposed to Establish a Working Group to Address Future Energy Challenges:
In his address to the 14th NAM Summit, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed the establishment of a working group to frame an action plan to address future energy challenges. He emphasised that India would be prepared to coordinate with such a group.

If NAM is to be Relevant It Cannot be Ambiguous on Terrorism:
Dr. Singh stressed that if NAM is to be relevant in the current circumstances it cannot be ambiguous on the issue of terrorism. He asked the leaders of NAM to unitedly fight the scourge of terrorism and not allow the forces of extremism to distract the world's attention from developmental issues.

Rejecting the Notion of "Clash of Civilisation":
India's Prime Minister said that the world was again facing the danger of being split along artificially created cultural and religious divide. Rejecting the notion of "clash of civilisations" he stressed that NAM's message to the world should be that it is possible to work for a confluence of civilisations. Dr. Singh said that NAM was uniquely placed to play the role of a bridge of understanding.

Call for the Constitution of a NAM High-Level Group for West Asia:
The emerging fault lines of the new ideological divide were nowhere more apparent than in West Asia, which witnessed a tragic and pointless war in Lebanon, according to Dr. Singh. The Prime Minister suggested the constitution of a NAM high-level group for West Asia that could undertake a sustained mission to promote understanding in the region and assist in implementing the agreed roadmap towards a comprehensive peace.

Reforming the UN Imperative:
Dr. Singh stressed that reforming the UN and revitalising the General Assembly was imperative. The developing world must find its due representation among permanent members of the UN Security Council, according to Dr. Singh. He stressed that the NAM member States must join like minded countries to promote democratisation of processes of global governance, ushering in a new global polity based on the rule of law, reason and equity.

Inclusive Globalisation:
The Indian Prime Minister pointed out that more than half members of the UN belong to NAM, hence the movement must unite behind a fundamentally new vision of "inclusive globalisation". He stressed that globalisation must be accompanied by a more balanced and equitable distribution of its benefits.

NAM Needs to Assume a Leading Role in Advocating Nuclear Disarmament:
Dr. Singh recalled late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's Action Plan for Nuclear Disarmament presented to the UN General Assembly in 1988. He underlined that the time had come for NAM to again assume a leading role in advocating nuclear disarmament. India had prepared a working paper on nuclear disarmament that would be circulated at the UN General Assembly this year, according to Dr. Singh. He invited NAM members to join its efforts to achieve universal disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons.

Environment - New Paradigm if Energy Security:
In relation to environment, Dr. Singh said that NAM should take the lead in articulating a new paradigm of energy security that addressed the needs of all peoples and of the planet.

Call for a Major Initiative in Africa:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a major initiative in Africa, to whose destiny the future of the world was inextricably linked. The focus of the initiative would be on human resource and agricultural development. It would involve setting up a mechanism with the African Union to pool NAM assets for investment in the future of Africa.

V. Conclusion:

1. Unique Forum:
Analysts point out that NAM is a unique forum, it is the largest assembly of nations outside the UN. It is a forum for articulating the concerns of the developing nations. However, NAM cannot operate like a structured grouping because it is cross-region and cross-continent. Information exchange which could lead to common positions on issues, such as global trade is a way cement ties between member nations.

2. Economic Clout:
In the present era of global economic integration, NAM’s focus should be on hard economics. This, it is argued, is the only way NAM can survive in the present changed context. Analysts point out that NAM can become effective only if it increases its economic clout. Without any economic clout a numerically strong body like NAM will have less influence than smaller groups like the G-8.

3. Collective Effort to Make NAM Relevant:
Finally, the members of NAM need to put their house in order through their own efforts in order to strengthen their independence and autonomy. As a founder member, India is well placed to push a proactive agenda in NAM. Analysts feel that a committee should be appointed to suggest ways to make non-alignment creative and result oriented. NAM members should act unitedly and purposefully to make NAM relevant in the current context.

4. India Wants NAM to Serve as the Voice of Moderation, Harmony and Reason:
India's role in the negotiations and Declaration made at the end of the 14th NAM Summit in Havana was in tune with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call to make NAM as the movement to serve as the voice of moderation, harmony and reason. Many of the suggestions made by the Prime Minister were included in the Havana Declaration.
Published date : 02 Oct 2009 03:50PM

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