About NAM

Origins

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the largest political grouping of countries in multilateral fora. The Asian-African Conference of 1955 held in Bandung was the catalyst for the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement. The actual formation of the group did not happen until six years later in Belgrade, where the Non-Aligned Movement was formally established by the leaders of 25 developing countries. The early impetus for the establishment of NAM came from the initiative of five charismatic and dynamic leaders representing different regions of the world; namely: President Tito of Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Nehru of India, President Nasser of Egypt, President Nkrumah of Ghana, and President Sukarno of Indonesia. During its inception, the group had 25 members; today, NAM constitutes the majority of countries in the world with a membership of 120 countries and 17 observers.

Philosophy

Global politics following the Second World War was characterized by the Cold War, which divided the world between two nuclear armed blocs – the Eastern bloc (led by the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw pact) and the Western bloc (led by the USA and its allies in NATO). Parallel to the Cold War the world witnessed the decolonization of former colonial empires, and the emergence of newly independent, sovereign states in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Emerging from colonial subjugation, these states desired to create a global order based on sovereign equality, political and economic self-determination, justice and freedom. These states sought an alternative to the paradigm of alignment with East – West bloc politics, according to the principles of Non-Alignment. NAM encapsulated the philosophy of transcending the dominant power politics of the time.

During the first NAM Summit in Belgrade, participants declared: "The existing military blocs...necessarily provoke periodical aggravations of international relations". In the same summit they expressed their conviction that "all nations have the right of unity, self-determination, and independence by virtue of which right they can determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development without intimidation or hindrance". In their second Summit in Cairo NAM highlighted their determination of non-alignment by declaring:

The Conference reiterates its conviction that the existence of military blocs, great power alliances and pacts arising therefrom has accentuated the cold war and heightened international tensions. The Non-Aligned Countries are therefore opposed to taking part in such pacts and alliances.

In the post-Cold War era, NAM reiterated that its philosophy and principles remain relevant until sustainable global justice and peace is established. NAM highlighted this continued relevance in the Jakarta Summit of 1992:

There is no disputing the continued validity of [NAM's] principles and objectives, which include, inter alia, the safeguarding of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, exercise of self-determination and sovereignty of the non-aligned and other developing countries, achievement of disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, an end to colonialism and all forms of subjugation, eradication of racism and all forms of racial discrimination, especially apartheid, peaceful co-existence among States, democratization of inter-State relations, peaceful settlement of regional conflicts, attainment of developmental goals by all developing countries and protection of human rights, especially their social and economic dimensions.

NAM and Disarmament

The philosophy of NAM on "active neutrality", where countries collectively formulated strategies with the objective of non-engagement during and following the Cold War, had disarmament as a core objective. A statement capturing NAM's philosophy on disarmament can be found in the Final Document of Belgrade Summit of 1989, where NAM declared:

Disarmament, the relaxation of international tension, respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, especially the principles of the sovereign equality of States, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the injunction to refrain from the use or threat of force in international relations; respect for the right to self-determination and national independence, economic and social development, the complete eradication of colonialism, apartheid and all other forms of racism and racial discrimination, aggression and occupation; the respect for human rights, and the strengthening of international peace and security are closely related to each other.

From the outset of movement, NAM declared general and complete disarmament under effective international control to be one of their main objectives. In the first summit in Belgrade, NAM declared, "...Disarmament is an imperative need and the most urgent task of mankind." They further urged Great Powers to "Sign without further delay a treaty for general and complete disarmament in order to save mankind from the scourge of war and to release energy and resources now being spent on armament to be used for the peaceful economic and social development of all mankind."

NAM has raised important issues in multilateral fora on matters related to disarmament, including: nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, NAM and UN fora, NPT related issues, nuclear weapons free zones, negative security assurances, and country specific issues. The NAM Working Group on Disarmament is currently chaired by Indonesia.