NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT RENAISSANCE: A CHANCE FOR A MULTIPOLAR WORLD ?
NAM Member States
In 1955, when the founding fathers of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) held their first meeting in the now famous Bandung Gathering, the role of Non Aligned Movement seemed to be clear: prevention of a new war. In a world already savagely ravaged by the Second World War, URSS and United States already embarked in a new kind of military and political confrontation: Cold War. So the role and the place of a non-aligned movement where clear and easy to carve: keeping the two opposite blocs in equilibrium not allowing for the cold war to become a nuclear war. After the fall of the communism and dissolution of Warsaw pact in 1991 the Non Aligned Movement seemed to be out of place in a world that had promised to be without military or ideological confrontation. Many had claimed even the end of the organization in a post-Cold War world. After the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that presented clear the risk of a unipolar world ,now a new need is offering to Non Aligned Movement a new chance to play a historic role: the search for a multipolar world.
A new Non Aligned Movement?
The Cuban presidency of Non Aligned Movement (2006-2009) has witnessed a new world that could offer new meanings to a movement that seemed to be in collapse in the last decade of XX century. The reason for this comeback where many . First we are seeing an increase in relevance of the so called Bandung spirit. In 1955 at the inaugural session the five key figures of the movement: Josif Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamel Nasser of Egypt , Sukarno of Indonesia and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana wanted this new organization to stand for: non-aggression, non-interference, respect for independence, equality and peaceful co-existence.
At the end of the Cold War this principle seemed to stay at the heart of the new international security structure. The dissolution of URSS granted freedom to the people in the communist area and the Kuwait War (1991) signaled a new role of United Nation as a protector of independence of small countries . Soon this dream was dashed, the US lead invasion in Afghanistan (2001) the unilateral Iraq invasion (2003) and the threats to North Korea and Iran existence , the orange revolution in Eastern Europe, all this marked a new era of unipolar world . In this new confrontational vision the spirit of Bandung was the key for re-establishing order in the world. In an unexpected way the so called war on terror marked the necessity for a balanced world in which no power to act without impunity and those marked the renaissance of Non Aligned Movement.
Is Non Aligned Movement a power?
At a first glance the answer seemed to be a clear Yes: with118 member states and another 15 observer waiting for admittance and with almost 55% percent of the world population and 20% percent of world economy, demographical and economical date tend to suggest an important power to be used by this movement. In any case the sad days of the nineties when the Movement look as it will lose his meaning are long gone. But on a realistic note the Non Aligned Movement has still the same weakness that crippled his influence on the Cold war period. The Bandung five fathers imagined a powerful military, political and economical alliance that could balance United States and Soviet Union. This strong alliance is not build yet. On political level the connections between these countries are still week, economic also there is no plan for common development, there isn’t any trade agreement or economic project to hold together the NAM members. Also the NAM it does not offer a political mechanism for dismantling inner tension between member states and no military common capacity to give relevance to the movement. State by state agreement does not substitute a common unified mechanism .Also the NAM organization it is lacking the material resources to put forward a common international agenda. Finally a weak point of the organization is the dependency on the country that is chairing the NAM Alliance. The last years prove this quite eloquently , the three years of Cuban mandate marked a bust in visibility and international audience to the organization ,while the Egyptian mandate until now is a very disappointing one, succeed only in puttying the organization into shadow . So NAM is having a lot of work to do until will be able to measure up with NATO or United States influence.
Is Non Aligned Movement rising up?
Despite these internal issues the Cuban presidency and NAM have marked a few initiatives that could foster the image and influence of the organization. The most important was the decision of NAM to get involved in a necessary, but long postponed, reform of United Nation system. Taking part in common peace keeping operation is also offering the breeding ground for an experimental military task force of NAM. Finally the Committee on Palestine of NAM has offered credible solution on the Middle East problem, requesting Israel to to halt its settlement activities, open up border crossings, and cease the use of force and violence against civilians and relinquish Gaza and West Bank territories to a future Palestinian state. Extremely important was the decision on NAM to emphasize on justice and respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and relinquish his older name as the club of autocrats and foster democracy on the member states. Off course it is still a long way until NAM will be a club of democracy but it is a step on the right direction. All this new stance , the decision to create a Joint Economic Cooperation committee and to offer a new leadership to the organization in the form of a Joint Coordinating Committee that doubles the state leadership of NAM, all this are opportunity to make the organization more efficient and by this more visible. As always history teach us that an organization like a person is having his role in the world. Non Aligned Movement played a part on the Cold War adventure and is having now a new calling: fostering a new power for a multipolar world. The last decade, under a one polar world, was not a beneficial one: increase in military spending, economic crisis, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and destabilizing of the Middle East region, African underdevelopment, and democracy crisis, all this need to be address and Non Aligned Movement by his simple existence could be a beckon of hope.
Professor Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS