The Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM is an international organization of over 100 states which consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. They represent 55 per cent of the planet's people and nearly two-thirds of the UN's membership. Countries that have hosted the NAM's conferences include Yugoslavia, Egypt, Zambia, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Colombia, South Africa and Malaysia.
The term "Non-Alignment" itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during his speech the previous year in Columbo, Sri-Lanka. In this speech, Nehru described the five pillars, earlier put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations. Called Panchsheel, these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:
1. Respect for territorial integrity
2. Mutual non-aggression
3. Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
4. Equality and mutual benefit and
5. Peaceful co-existence
The origin of the Non-aligned movement can be traced to a conference hosted in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The world's "non-aligned" nations declared their desire not to become involved in the East-West ideological confrontation of the Cold War. Rather, they would focus on national struggles for independence, eradication of poverty, and economic development. Bandung marked a significant milestone for the development of NAM as a political movement.
However it was 6 years later in 1961, largely through the initiative of Josip Broz Tito, then-president of Yugoslavia, that the first official Non-Aligned Movement Summit was held at Belgrade. It brought together the states of the world that did not wish to align themselves with either of the Cold War superpowers. The summit saw representatives from 25 countries. Along with Tito and Nehru, the other prominent world leaders instrumental in getting NAM off the ground were Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and General Soekarno of Indonesia. It is also important to note that small and less politically powerful countries such as Cuba and Cyprus also played critical roles in the evolution of NAM.
Important members included India, Egypt, and, for a time, the People's Republic of China. Brazil has never been a formal member of the movement. While the organization was intended to be as close an alliance as NATO or the Warsaw Pact, it never had much cohesion and many of its members were induced to or unable to resist aligning with one or another of the great powers. For example, Cuba was closely aligned with the former Soviet Union during the Cold War era.
The first meeting of the NAM occurred in Belgrade in September of 1961 and it saw twenty-five members, eleven each from Asia and Africa along with Yugoslavia, Cuba and Cyprus. The group dedicated itself to opposing colonialism, imperialism, and neo-colonialism.
The next meeting was held in Cairo in 1964. It was attended by forty-six nations with most of the new members being newly independent African states. Much of the meeting involved discussions about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Indo-Pakistani Wars.
The 1969 meeting in Lusaka was attended by fifty-four nations and was one of the most important with the movement forming a permanent organization to foster economic and political ties. Zambia's first president, Kenneth Kaunda, played a crucial role in these events.
The 1973 meeting in Algiers saw the movement deal with new economic realities. The 1973 world oil shock had made some of its members vastly richer than the others. The end of the attachment of the U.S. currency to gold, and the dollar's subsequent devaluation, also removed one of the group's largest complaints.
Recently Malaysia hosted the 13th Non-Aligned Movement from 20-25 February 2003. However, the Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to find relevance since the end of the Cold War.
- Official website (http://www.nam.gov.za/)
- History of the Non-Aligned Movement (http://www.nam.gov.za/background/background.htm#1.1%20History)
- NAM e-secretariat portal (http://portal.e-nam.org.my/wps/portal/!ut/p)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia (http://www.namkl.org.my)