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Is Non-Alignment Movement Still Relevant?

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The Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) belongs to the developing world, mostly former colonial countries. It was formed during the cold war period in 1961 as an organization of nations, those were not seeking to join any power blocs either it was the USA or the USSR or Soviet Union, they aim to remain independent or neutral.

The first summit of NAM took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961 followed by the basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia. As of now, NAM has 120 members countries, along with 17 countries and 10 international organizations as the observers of the organization.

It is important to mention in here is that the NAM was founded under the leadership of India’s first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and there were four other leaders also advocated about the NAM. They were, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sukarno of Indonesia. The NAM has been a major movement in international relations, primarily aiming to establish a peaceful world order by eliminating all kind of threats of war or war tensions.

The NAM,  which was born in the backdrop of the cold war tensions between the two superpowers, worked for peace, security, disarmament, independence, development & cooperation among nations. In short, it can be said that NAM’s contribution can be best assessed in terms of Six D’s- Decolonization, Detente, Disarmament, Development, Democratization & Dissemination.(Ghosh, Peu; International Relations, Third Edition, PHI Learning Pvt Ltd. Delhi, Feb 2014, Page 181)

Representational image.

Principles Of NAM

The ten principles of  NAM agreed at the Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia  in 1955 are followings:

  1. Respect for 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 nations.
  3. Recognition of equality among all races and of the equality among all nations, both large and small.
  4. Non-intervention or non-interference into the internal affairs of another country.
  5. Respect of the right of every nation to defend itself, either individually or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  6. Non-use of collective defence pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
    B. Non-use of pressures by any country against other countries.
  7. Refraining from carrying out or threatening to carry out aggression, or from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  8. A peaceful solution of all international conflicts in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  9. Promotion of mutual interests and of cooperation.
  10. Respect of justice and of international obligations. 

    The US President John F. Kennedy (R) received India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (L) at the airport in Rhode Island, Washington, November 1961.||via The Economist/Representational image.

NAM In The Present World

After the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, the cold war had also ended. Hence, the relevance of NAM has become a subject of great debate in international relations. According to critics, NAM is no longer relevant because of the changing international environment from Bi-polar to uni-polar. But whatever the world is – bipolar, multi-polar or unipolar, non-alignment as a foreign policy of the third world states will continue to remain valid. Therefore, it is still believed that NAM has significant relevance in the present-day world. Some of the points are as follow-

  1. Earlier the NAM was a political movement, but now the movement is shifting its political concept to the economic. It’s also true that the bipolarity of the world is ended after the cold war but still the world has an economic gap between the first world and third world nations. Obviously, as long as the economic gap among the nations exists the NAM continues as relevant in this present world order too.
  2. NAM continues to hold relevance to maintain world peace. It has played an active role to stand by its founding principles, idea and purpose, which mainly aims to establish a peaceful and prosperous world.
  3. NAM as an international organization is relevant due to its principles. The idea of preserving the independence of every nation to save the territorial integrity and sovereignty holds its relevance.
  4. NAM has significant relevance as a core institution of third world countries. These nations have been fighting against socio-economic problems & it’s also true that they have been exploited for a long time by other developed nations. Therefore, as a guardian platform of a third world nation, the NAM continues to be relevant.
  5. Around two-third nations belong to the United Nations and represent almost 55% of world population, hence NAM has a significant role to strengthen and support to the UN. So, as one of the largest international organizations, it continues to hold relevance as a platform.
  6. NAM has also played a role to maintain a bridge between the political and ideological differences existing in the international relations to maintain peaceful world order.
  7. It is also known to provide the interest of developing countries for each member nation as a platform to raise issues and resolve the same through its principles.
  8. NAM also looks forward to the issues and concerns of the contemporary world. It’s keen to support the concept of sustainable development & can lead the world toward sustainability. And puts concern on issues related to the environment.

In the end, we may safely assume that NAM as a concept can never be irrelevant; principally it provides a strong base to the foreign policy of its members. The movement faced with the goals yet to be reached and many new challenges that are arising in the current international relations. Therefore, it needs to overlook the issues and concerns in defence of the interest and priorities of the member’s states. And, also for the achievement of peace and security for mankind in the current complex and gloomy world environment.

Since the end of the Cold War, the NAM has redefined itself and reinvented its purpose in the current world system.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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