Non-Aligned Movement and the Preservation of Peace
Xinhua News Agency
August 31, 2012
NAM, voice of developing countries in a time of drastic change
By Yang Shuyi, Zhu Xiaolong, Du Yuanjiang
TEHRAN: “The preservation of peace…It is in the pursuit of this policy that we have chosen the path of nonalignment in any military or like pact of alliance.” Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister and prominent advocate of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), delivered a well-known speech in 1956 explaining why developing countries should follow the non-alignment course.
With NAM’s 16th summit held in Iran’s capital of Tehran from Aug. 26 to 31, heads of states or governments and high officials from over 100 countries and regions, many of which bear little economic or political similarities except that they are from the developing world, gathered again to speak in one voice on major challenges the world is facing, especially in this time of drastic change.
Twenty years after the last days of Cold War, the very scenario that prompts the birth of non-alignment concept, the purpose of NAM’s summit, or of the NAM organization itself, is just as solid as ever: giving a voice to the developing world, so as to promote world peace and cooperation.
As the largest grouping of countries outside of the United Nations, NAM’s membership is particularly concentrated in developing countries.
So far, NAM consists of 120 members, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organizations, representing nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’ members, or about 55 percent of the world population, which makes its decisions influential.
As the grouping of developing countries, “we should contribute to the solution of the problems in the world today,” Z. Jerkic, a senior official from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s foreign ministry, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran.
“There are so many issues that are of the interest of the members of the Movement, but certainly political crisis are the ones that the focus of attention should be, and also economic issues,” he noted.
Consisting of countries and regions with different economic and political interests, NAM features a loose organizational structure. The one thing that links all the members together, notably, is their common belief in the world peace and cooperation.
Over the years, members of NAM adopt synchronized policies in dealing with various international issues, which leaves a huge impact on the process of policy making at the global level.
NAM’s commitment to peace even predates its establishment in 1961, as in the 1950s prominent leaders such as Indonesian President Sukarno and Indian Prime Minister Nehru already echoed the five principles put forth by late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, which includes mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non- interference in domestic affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.
The world is experiencing dramatic changes, especially the Middle East region that has been witnessing a widespread transformational thunderstorm over the past year and a half. The upheaval in Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, among others, as well as the Iranian nuclear issue, not only affects regional countries but also the whole world.
In May, ministers of NAM countries agreed that the present global scenario pose great challenges in the areas of peace and security, economic development, social progress, as well as rule of law. They also realized that many new areas of concern and challenges have emerged, particularly the global financial and economic crisis.
“It’s a very challenging global environment at the moment. The Movement needs to remain true to its principles, but at the same time must adapt to changing global circumstances,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Xinhua on the sidelines of the 16th NAM summit.
During the summit, one of the main topics is how to ensure a more just global governance, said the Indonesian minister. “The global governance, the global framework, must allow for the contribution by Non-Aligned Movement countries in the promotion of international peace and security, promotion of social and economic development, promotion of good governance and human rights.”
As the voice of developing countries, NAM continues to strive for the maintenance of international peace and security, a goal that could not be achieved without strengthening and revitalizing NAM in this time of drastic change. Benin’s President Yayi Boni said during the summit that NAM is not against any specific country or government, and called on NAM members to forget about their differences and become “one political voice.”