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Global Politics: The Non-Aligned Movement's Journey through Shifting Tides

Non-Aligned Movement emerged during the cold war era when the two superpowers was fighting to establish their dominance in the world politics. The organization was founded during the peak of the US-Soviet confrontation in the year 1961 in Belgrade. This organization was established for the purpose providing an escape to the newly independent countries from getting pressured to join the Alliance of either of the Superpowers. NAM is still relevant in the current political scenario but due to the change in the dynamics of the world politics, the organization had to face a lot of challenges regarding its relevance.

In this paper, the objective as well as the function of NAM has been discussed. This paper has also tried to give a glimpse of reason as to why the need of establishing an organization like NAM was felt and what challenges NAM faced.

The principles on which the foundation of NAM was laid down has also been mentioned and discussed in the paper. In addition to that what position does India plays with respect to the said institution has also been discussed in the said paper.

NAM has gone through various phases which marks its evolution and those phases has also been discussed in the paper along with the names of the leaders who played a very important role for the institution. The said institution has acted as a voice of the developing countries so that problems as well as the needs of the institution can be fulfilled without the developing and weak nation getting pressurized by either of the blocs to join them.

Non-alignment movement was established in the year 1961 in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia under the guidance of various world leaders including Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito. It was an organization of 120 countries who believed in staying neutral rather than siding with either of the conflicting world powers.

Non-alignment is one of the most well thought and important Concept of the international politics which emerged during the cold war situations between USSR and US after the second world war. It introduced a new way through which the international politics can be dealt with, and This Phenomena helped a lot in shaping the nature of the world politics. This concept basically acted as a shield over the heads of the newly independent countries which helped those countries in escaping from the race of militarization promoted by the two conflicting world powers at that time.

Non-alignment movement was formed as an organization of state that did not seek to formally align themselves with either of the world powers i.e. US or USSR, but decided to remain independent or neutral.

The main purpose for the creation of the organization was to ensure the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the security of the non-aligned countries in their struggle against Imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism and all other form of foreign subjugation.

Non-Alignment movement has majorly aimed at creating an independent path in the world politics which would allow the newly independent countries to stay independent and not get dominated by the two conflicting world powers and start acting as a pawn in their hand while they fight with each other for the purpose of asserting their dominance over each other.

The world was witnessing bi-polarization during the cold war whereby two major powers had formed their blocs and embarked on a policy to attract rest of the world in their own bloc. The blocs were either pro soviet or pro American. The pro-soviet bloc was in alliance with the Warsaw pact and the pro American bloc was in alliance with the NATO.

The NAM was established on the principle which was agreed in a conference called as BANDUNG CONFERENCE in 1955, and drawing on these principles the Non-aligned Movement was established In 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia through an initiative of Yugoslavia president Josip Broz Tito, India Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah and Indonesian President Sukarno.

The establishment of the NAM led to the commencement of the first conference of the head of state or government of the non-aligned countries. It was in the Havana declaration of 1979 in which the purpose of this organization was established by Fidel Castro. The purpose that was mentioned in the Havana declaration was to ensure the national independence and the sovereignty along with the territorial integrity of the non-allied nations in their struggle against all sorts of foreign subjugations.

The countries as the member of the NAM represents nearly two third members of the united nation and contains about 55% of the world population. Majorly the countries termed as the Developing countries are the part of the organization.

The NAM was very much active in the 1950s and the 1980s when the international policy of the NAM persisted throughout the entire cold war and received major successes in the problems like decolonization, opposition to racism and disarmament. It was in this year when NAM was very popularly brought to the surface with the purpose of countering the abovementioned problems.

Ten Principle Of The Bandung Conference[2]
The ten principle decided in the Bandung conference in 1955 onto which the non-aligned movement was established in the year 1961 are:
  1. Respect of fundamental human rights and of the objectives and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  2. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
  3. Recognition of the equality among all races and of the equality among all nations, both large and small.
  4. Non-interference or non-intervention into the internal affairs of another country.
  5. Respect the right of every nation to defend itself, either individually or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the UN.
  6. Non-use of collective defence pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
  7. Refraining from acts or threats of aggression and use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any nation.
  8. Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means.
  9. Promotion of mutual interest and cooperation.
  10. Respect for justice and international obligations.

Factors Responsible For Emergence Of NAM
The positive as well as the negative factors and the circumstance were the reason for the emergence of an organization like NAM but the main reason due to which the developing countries came together and get united was that there was a power struggle going on between the two power blocs in the international politics. This power struggle between the two major power in the international politics posed a threat on the independence of the newly independent countries of Asia and Africa.

These newly independent countries of Asia and Africa were very deeply enriched with the feeling of nationalism and were not looking to compromise their independence and freedom at any cost. As these countries was economically undeveloped, the blocs were offering them a great deal regarding the economic development but these economically weak countries were not really to join the blocs and get completely dependent on them.

The newly independent countries were looking to preserve and promote their culture and they were not willing to be controlled by either of the blocs and for the purpose of protecting themselves from these blocs these newly independent countries came together and formed the NAM.

The establishment of NAM also provided the member countries a respected platform so that they can discuss their problems and plans for further development.

Avoiding the aggression, independent foreign policy, having peace in the country, for promoting equality and non-interference in the internal politics of other countries are some of the other reasons that the newly independent countries got biased towards which led to the establishment of the NAM.

Objective Of Nam[3]
NAM was made primarily with the purpose of creating an independent path for the countries who were not willing to join either of the power blocs. The major aim of the said organization was to establish global peace and to prevent the situation of aggression in the global politics. Apart from these, various other objectives are:
  1. Right to independent judgement
  2. Using the global relations moderately and with diplomacy with the major powers in the global politics.
  3. It promotes international cooperation
  4. It provides the platform to discuss and find solution for the purpose of countering the global problems
  5. It focuses on the struggle against neo-colonialisms and imperialism
  6. It focuses on the struggle against racism, domination and foreign occupation
  7. It allows the countries to have their own foreign policies according to their own needs
  8. It protects the weak and undeveloped countries from falling into the hands of the strong powers and from being used as a puppet by those strong powers
  9. NAM helps in blocking the influence of the big powers over the weak and undeveloped countries.

Functioning Of Nam[4]
As earlier mentioned that NAM is an institution that provides a platform for the member countries to discuss the important global issues and seek solution regarding them. At present NAM has 120 members, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organisations.

NAM does not have a permanent secretariat or a formal and well laid out hierarchy, on the contrary it's administration is non-Hierarchal and rotational. The decision among the member states are taken by consensus which does not need to be universal. Only substantial agreement is required. The coordinating bureau is located in New York and the coordinating bureau is based at the UN.

The particular organisation meets every 3 years at the NAM summit conference of the head of the state. A chair is chosen at the summit which is held as a post for the next 3 years. The principle of promoting equality that the said organization preaches can be vouched by the fact that every member state has an equal weight in the organization.

As of January 19, 2024, president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda is the current chairperson of the NAM. The post of the chairperson got rotated in the 19th NAM summit which was held in Kampala, Uganda from January 15th to January 20th 2024. The summit was an important one as various global issues like multilateralism, international peace and post-covid 19 recovery strategies were discussed.

Phases Of Nam[5]
The NAM has gone through different phases which reflects the way NAM evolved according to the need of the member states and according to the changing dynamics of the world politics. Every phases has its own set of leaders who has worked for the proper functioning and for maintaining appropriate balance in the organization. These phases portrays as to how the change in the global politics shapes the policies and the principles of any organization. The phases are mentioned below:-
  • First Phase: The first phase marked the establishment of the organization. The organization was established by the newly independent countries who were economically weak for the purpose of protecting themselves from being forced to join either of the blocs. The eminent leader in this phase that moved forward with the idea of NAM and helped in the establishment of the said organization were Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito. The Belgrade summit in 1961 marked the formal establishment of the NAM whose chair is rotated every 3 years.
  • Second Phase: The second phase reflects the expansion of the organization's membership. Various other countries got the independence from the colonial rule and joined the organization. With the change in the global politics, the organization faced new challenges with consisted of regional conflicts and economic disparities. The organization put forward the interest and the problem of the member states on the global stage. The eminent leaders in this phase were Indira Gandhi of India, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The summits that took place In this phase discussed problems like apartheid in south Africa, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the North-South economic divide. The NAM summit which took place in Delhi in 1983 focused on the need for the economic cooperation and development among member states.
  • Third Phase: This phases fall in the time period of post cold war era. In this phase the world politics changed drastically and the organization has various other challenges at hand. The relevance of the organization after the cold war was questioned as the cold war had played a very major role in the establishment of the NAM. The main objective of NAM in the post cold war era was to adapt to the new global politics dynamics and stay relevant at the global stage while maintaining its non-alignment stance. Eminent leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia and Fidel Castro of Cuba were advocating the non-alignment stance at the global stage. In the post cold war era, the NAM summits were focused on the discussion regarding the new concepts of the global politics namely globalization and poverty alleviation.

Challenges [6]
There have been several challenges that NAM has faced since its inception. Fighting their way through the organization formally established themselves and provided an alternative to the newly independent countries who were not willing to join either of the power blocs and i.e. by not aligning with either the power blocs by becoming the part of the NAM. The challenges that NAM faced are mentioned below:-
  • Geopolitical shift and change in power dynamics:
    NAM has gone through different phases and in each phase there has been a change in the global politics and leaderships. Advocating the principles and the objective of the organization and maintaining the relationship with the major power has been a very complex and difficult job for the organization. Putting forward the interest of the member state by making sure that the interest of one member state does not violate the interest of the other member state is very complex.
  • Developmental and economical needs:
    As the member state of the NAM are economically weaker and are termed as developing countries, there is a sense of economic disparity. Different member state has different needs and it has been a very big challenge for the NAM to address the needs of every member state.
  • Maintaining Unity:
    The nature of the member state in NAM is very diverse. Every member country has different developmental need and strategic need. There might be some differences among the countries relating to the culture and boundaries. Hence keeping all this in mind, maintaining unity among the member states was a very big challenge for the organization.
  • Relevance in the post cold war era:
    The cold war era played a very major role in the establishment of the NAM but after the cold war period got over, there question on the relevance of the NAM was raised. Staying relevant in the global politics was a big challenge.
  • Security concerns:
    The member states of NAM have faced a lot of security concerns including terrorism, cyberterrorism and regional conflicts. The whole process of resolving the conflicts and tackling the security concerns has been a very serious challenge for the NAM. Unity is an integral part for the organization to work properly hence maintaining it and preventing the member states to fight with each other is important.

India's Position[7]
India is the founder and the largest member in NAM. India was very active in the NAM meetings and summits till 1970s but as got inclined towards the USSR, this created a confusion in the minds of the smaller member states. This confusion led to the weakening of the NAM which resulted in the drifting of the smaller nations to either of the power blocs. As the USSR got disintegrated, there was a unipolar world order which was dominated by the US.

India's stance got inclined toward the US. As India's stance changed along with tis economic policy, various questions were raised on India's seriousness over the non-alignment. NAM continued to lose its relevance for India after the disintegration of USSR as the founding members failed to support India during crisis. The Prime minister of India skipped the 17th Non-Aligned movement summit held in Venezuela in 2016.

India along with the other NAM member have benefitted themselves by associating themselves at various degrees to the liberal economic orders and have seek benefits. India being the member of the G20 has declared itself as a nuclear power and has abandoned the call for the disarmament of the nuclear weapon.

India is striving hard to assert itself as one of the player in the multipolar world order. India's move of joining the quadrilateral security dialogue has been seen by many as a counterforce to the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific. India on the other hand is also the member of the Shanghai cooperation organization which is led by China. This approach shows that how India is balancing its stance in the global politics.

Relevance Of Nam[8]
After the cold war era ended, the relevance of NAM was questioned to a great extent as the period of cold war played a very massive role in the establishment of the said organization. The principle of NAM which is relevant in the current time are listed below:-
  • Un support: - Majority of the member of the NAM are the member of UN General Assembly. The total number of the member states of the NAM accounts to two third member of the UN General Assembly.
  • World peace: - NAM has advocated the world peace since its inception. It still holds its ground regarding the preservation of the world peace. It still stand by its founding principle and encourages the preservation of the world peace.
  • Cultural diversity and human rights: - NAM acts a the protector of the cultural diversity that is present in the world and the human rights of the member states as well as of the people present in the non member states.
  • Equitable world order: - NAM has always promoted the notion of equitable world order, keeping that in mind, NAM can act as a bridge between the political and ideological difference existing in the international environment and can act as an international organization solving the international dispute.
  • Maintaining sovereignty: - NAM has promoted the notion of independence since its inception and taking the current political scenario in consideration, NAM can act as a very important and strong international organization for keeping the mentality and spirit of independence alive.
  • Sustainable development: - NAM has promoted and encouraged the concept of sustainable development and it can in the future too acts as a platform to voice up about the concept of sustainable development along with other world problems.

The Non-Aligned movement has proved to be a very important organization as it acts as a platform for promoting the interest of the developing countries. NAM has promoted and encouraged peace, sovereignty and non-alignment since its inception. It has portrayed how the global issues can be collectively addressed. Since the inception, NAM has encountered numerous challenges and questions regarding its relevance in the everchanging world order.

Despite these challenges, NAM has always found its way through the ever-erupting problems and raised its voice regarding the issues with the purpose of solving it. It promotes just, equitable and peaceful world. The concept of NAM has promoted the notion of the states being independent and not aligning with either of the world powers. The main reason for the establishment of the NAM was also the situations that arose during the cold war era.

NAM has faced a lot of challenges due to the geopolitical shift and the change in the dynamic of the world power. These challenges had made it very difficult for the international organization to maintain unity amongst the member states as all the states started pursuing their own economic and development needs and the main struggle for the organization was to keep in mind the needs of the all the member states and working towards them without ignoring or sabotaging the needs of other member or non-member states.

In the coming years, the NAM can provide a platform for the purpose of raising awareness against global issues like terrorism, climate change and trade protectionism and many other. It can also provide a platform to garner the wide support from the south-east Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and other against the domination of China in the south China sea.


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