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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 42 New Delhi October 8, 2016

Why NAM is Needed

Sunday 9 October 2016

by Vivek Kumar Srivastava

The 17th Non-Aligned Movement(NAM) summit in Venezuela’s Margarita Island proved to be a lacklustre affair which it had never witnessed in its so impactful history. About 12 heads of states attended from the 120-member group, which was quite less than the participation at the Iran summit, a signal that the movement is on the decline.

The Indian PM was requested by Venezuela to participate as India was a founder-member of the movement but India rejected the request and the Vice-President attended the meet. The Indian stand is clear—that the days of alliance system and power blocs are over, hence NAM carries not much importance. This viewpoint of the Indian Government can be contested. In fact the Indian Vice-President raised the issue of terrorism at the meet; if the issue would have been raised by the Indian PM then it would have had sharper meaning before the world audience but the opportunity was deliberately missed. The relevance of NAM is self-proven: when issues like terrorism are raised as major global problems, then the NAM platform automatically becomes highly relevant. When NAM deals with newly emerging problems from global warming, debt-affected low income countries to UN reforms, then it establishes itself as a deliberative and coordinating platform for the developing countries, even in the changed global milieu.

The world is more violent and big power rivalries from MENA to the South China Sea have increased in recent times. NAM provides an alternative medium to tackle these issues in fresh and innovative ways but this aspect was lost by several leaders. India too appeared to have shunned the Movement. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and in recent times Condoleezza Rice always criticised NAM; now India has accepted their arguments and shifted towards the US and that is perceptible. In such a scenario the commitment to NAM was to be diluted and the dilution was made with no considerations for the countries from the South and the needs of the poor nations for whom the support of India was a policy-commitment. However, India deliberately overlooked these points.

The meet was important in the sense that the politically troubled Nicolas Maduro, the Socialist President of Venezuela, with support from Cuban President Castro said that the US onslaught was being experienced in the region. The onslaught was on different aspects of their existence which spanned from politics, economy, and culture to the life of their countries. The recognition of such an onslaught on the region is the need of the hour as global politics is not only the game of power but it has several intertwined dimensions including impacts on the culture, economy and independence of the foreign policy; these dimensions relate to the core pillars of the NAM. When the Venezuelan President feels that the US corporates with the local elements are trying to oust him, then the utility of NAM becomes all the more significant because the US involvement in local politics is a signal of interventionist power politics for the developing countries. Countries like the Philippines have now realised the adverse impact of the US influence in their lives.

The declaration of the 17th summit has highlighted certain relevant issues which cannot be ignored. The problem with analysts and policy-makers is that NAM is treated by them as an organisation of the Cold War age but its next generation evolution has taken place in the age of post-USSR dissolution; the new problems have been adequately addressed by it. Several members may not have placed adherence to the NAM philosophy and activism in their foreign policy as a top priority but it does not mean that the NAM meet was useless or it has no prospect for the future.

New problems are emerging and the new alliance systems are evolving. NAM recognised these and its declaration has several elements which developing nations need to take note of. These included—to decisively address the challenges posed in the areas of peace, economic and social development, human rights and international cooperation, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with Article 2 and Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as with the UN Resolution 26/25 of October 24, 1970 and international law, to emphasise the sovereign equality of states, the non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the abstention from the threat or use of force, adoption of a future Compre-hensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism, Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied since June 1967, in accordance with Resolutions 242, and 338, to recover and strengthen the authority of the General Assembly as the most democratic, accountable, universal and representative body of the Organisation and the reform of the Security Council, in order to transform it into a more democratic, effective, efficient, transparent and representative body, and in line with contem-porary geo-political realities, to fulfil the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets for all nations and peoples, to strengthen the multilateral trading system so as to provide an enabling environment for development, by ensuring a level playing field for developing countries in international trade, and to allocate importance of increasing Aid for Trade and capacity building, in order to strengthen the participation of developing countries in the Global Value Chain and promote regional economic integration and interconnectivity, the transfer of technology from developed countries, on favourable terms, in climate change area the developed countries need to fulfill their commitments of providing finance, transfer of appropriate technology and capacity building to developing countries, the reform of the international financial architecture with democratisation of the decision-making institutions of Bretton Woods (IMF and World Bank), to emphasise the South-South Cooperation as an important element of international cooperation for the sustainable development of their peoples, as a complement and not as a substitute to the North-South Cooperation, which allows for the transfer of appropriate technologies, in favorable conditions and preferential terms, to highlight the efforts of the international community to counter and eradicate the spread of various pandemics, among them the Ebola, as well as for confronting the aftermath of natural disasters around the world, to focus global refugee problems and the problems of migrants which mainly affects the women and children and to emphasize the need for information and communication strategies to be deeply rooted in historical and cultural processes and to call on the media of the developed countries to respect the developing countries in the formulation of their opinions, models and perspectives with a view to enhancing the dialogue among civilisations.

These components of the declaration are important for global politics as these issues and problems may accentuate in the near future; hence need is to keep NAM alive and sustainable. India has a specific role in this process.

The next meet will be organised in Baku, the Republic of Azerbaijan, in 2019 as it has been elected as the next President of the movement. Till then NAM as a supporting platform for the global betterment needs to be rediscovered by all its members, mainly its founding members.

Dr Vivek Kumar Srivastava is the Vice-Chairman, CSSP and Consultant, CRIEPS, Kanpur.