NAM and its relevance



  • The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide
  • The movement originated in the 1950s as an effort by some countries to avoid the polarized world of the Cold War between the pro-Soviet communist countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact, and the pro-American capitalist countries belonging to NATO
  • The principles were agreed at the Bandung Conference in 1955, and the Non-Aligned Movement was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia through an initiative of the Indian Prime Minister, Yugoslav President , Egyptian President , Ghanaian President and Indonesian President
  • Purpose of the organisation is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.”
  • Principles of NAM
    • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
    • Recognition of the movements for national independence.
    • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
    • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
    • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
    • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
    • Respect for justice and international obligations


NAM: Importance Activities and positions

Issue/ Incident Action by NAM
1961 Puerto Rico’s self-determination·         The NAM organization has supported the discussion of the case of Puerto Rico’s self-determination before the United Nations.
1973 Self-determination of Western Sahara·          The group has supported the discussion of the case of Western Sahara’s self-determination before the United Nation
2003 invasion of Iraq·         In recent years the organization has criticized certain aspects of US foreign policy.

·         The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the War on Terrorism, its attempts to stifle Iran and North Korea’s nuclear plans, and its other actions have been denounced by some members of the Non-Aligned Movement as attempts to run roughshod over the sovereignty of smaller nations

Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals·         The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state

·          Issues such as globalization, the debt burden, unfair trade practices, the decline in foreign aid, donor conditionality, and the lack of democracy in international financial decision-making are cited as factors inhibiting development

Criticism of current UN structures·         The movement has been outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, stating that the organisation has been used by powerful states in ways that violate the movement’s principles

·         NAM has made a number of recommendations that it says would strengthen the representation and power of “non-aligned” states


 Non-Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation (NAM CSSTC)

  • The Non-Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation (NAM CSSTC) is an intergovernmental institution, which enables developing countries to increase national capacity and their collective self-reliance, forms part of the efforts of NAM
    • It is located in Jakarta, Indonesia
  • The NAM CSSTC was set up a few years after the Cold War to promote development in developing countries and to accelerate growth
    • In 1995, at Cartgena de Indias, 140 nations gathered and accepted a final document for the establishment of the Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation in Indonesia
  • The organisation aims to achieve the development goal of developing countries to achieve sustainable human development and enable developing countries to be equal partners in international relations


NAM & India

  • For India, the concept of non-alignment began as a policy of non-participation in the military affairs of a bipolar world and in the context of colonialism aimed towards optimum involvement through multi-polar participation towards peace and security
    • Also, Indian non-alignment was a product of the Cold War, a bipolar world and India’s colonial experience and the non-violent Indian independence struggle
  • The term “non-alignment” was coined by V K Menon in his speech at the United Nations (UN) in 1953, which was later used by Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, Sri Lanka; in which he described the Panchsheel (five restraints) which would later become the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement
    • Nehru’s concept of non-alignment brought India considerable international prestige among newly independent states that shared its concerns about the military confrontation between the superpowers and the influence of the former colonial powers
    • By laying the foundation stone of ‘Non-Alignment Movement’, India was able to establish a significant role for itself as a leader of the newly independent world and in the multilateral organisations like the UN.
  • First Criticism relating to NAM
    • The non-aligned nations were unable to fulfil the role of peacekeepers during the Indo-China war of 1962 and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 despite meaningful attempts.
    • The non-aligned response to the Bangladesh Liberation War and the following 1971 Indo-Pakistan War showed most of the non-aligned nations prioritised territorial integrity above human rights
    • It was during this period, that India’s non-aligned stance was questioned and criticized
  • Present day importance of NAM to India
    • Global South Cooperation
      • India is widely perceived as a leader of the developing world. Thus, India’s engagement with NAM will further help in the rise of India’s stature as the voice of the developing world or global south
      • So, in times of increasing protectionism, NAM can provide a good platform
    • Strengthening of Multipolar World Order
      • This aspect being concurrent with India’s foreign policy, can be further complimented with the role of NAM
    • Push for India’s candidature in UNSC
      • NAM’s total strength comprises 120 developing countries and most of them are members of the UN General Assembly; which can act as a strong support for India’s candidature as permanent member of UNSC

NAM Relevance in present day world

  • NAM has significant relevance in the present-day world as:
    • 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. So, as long as the economic gap among the nations exists the NAM continues as relevant in this present world order too
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    • NAM has become an Integral part of foreign policy. NAM as foreign policy is very much relevant today. Many developing countries like India still follow NAM policy. The policy to avoid colonization and imperialism continues to remain valid for all small and developing countries
  • NAM acts as catalyst to foster the co-operation between South-South nations. It raises issues that are of major concern for the south countries. It initiates economic, political and social development corner to achieve desired results of moving from developing to developed nations
  • NAM has become defunct owing to following reasons:
    • Lack of Economic Pragmatism
      • Many of the economic ideas which were in vogue in the past are updated today. However, many NAM members are rooted in ideas of socialism and state control, ideas popular at the time of Nehru and Nassir
      • In this pursuance, they continue complaining about the IMF and the WTO but lack the muscle to do anything
      • So, Rather than complain about the new trade regime, the countries must adjust to changing realities and learn to derive strength from them
    • Duplicity of efforts
      • NAM today competes with G-7, ASEAN and the Commonwealth, which are similar groups of nations. The other groups are more effective, as they deal with economic and trade issues
      • NAM has no position even on issues like human rights, child exploitation and gender issues. As a result, its members have to follow the Western dictates in this regard.
    • Leadership
      • The statesmen who started NAM had a vision
      • But now, there is no leadership on global issues, and there are also disagreements among the members. As a result, the organization has no direction as to the path it should take
    • Lack of real issues with NAM
      • NAM desperately needs new issues and themes to focus so that it can play a meaningful role in world politics in the future
      • NAM could have provided some leadership on things like nuclear non-proliferation, child labour, poverty and terrorism, besides other social and economic issues
  • Need of the hour: NAM’s revitalisation and not abandonment
    • At a time, where the World is transitioning from Diminishing Confrontation Towards Increasing Cooperation, the NAM’s new focus must be on eradicating poverty, hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy
  • Also, for a replacement of the unipolar world by the multipolar world, NAM is perhaps even more relevant now to international relations and development that at any time in the history
  • Thus, NAM should develop a progressive agenda on the fundamental values of democracy, human right and multiculturalism.
    • There are so many worldwide issues like greenhouse gas emissions, health concerns specially AIDS, drug trafficking, rising instances of poverty, food crisis and unemployment, to which the NAM’s spectrum could be enlarged with these increasing concern
  • On the whole, ‘The need of the hour is to call out for NAM’s revitalisation for it to be able to cater to the 21st Century needs of Third World countries more efficiently,’