The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was established and founded during the collapse of the colonial system and the independence struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world, and at the height of the Cold War. During the early days of the Movement, its actions were a key factor in the decolonization process, which led later to the attainment of freedom and independence by many countries and peoples and to the founding of tens of new sovereign States. Throughout its history, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has played a fundamental role in the preservation of world peace and security
The African-Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, from 18-24 April 1955, is considered the most immediate antecedent to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).This Prime Ministers from Indonesia, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Pakistan and Burma (Myanmar) convened this historic conference. Other countries were invited to participate and, in total, 29 Heads of State from nations recently liberated from colonial yoke met with the purpose of identifying and assessing the world issues of that time, pursuing joint policies in international relations and establishing a path towards the peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between all nations.
Indonesia’s President, Ahmed Sukarno, was the host of the conference in which the principles that would rule the relations between big and small countries, known as the Ten Principles of Bandung, were set forth. Later, these principles were adopted as the main goals and objectives of the non-alignment policy and the essential criteria to the membership of this Movement. They remain in full validity today and are at the backbone of the Movement. These principles are:
- Respect of 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 the 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 defense pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
7. Refraining from acts or threats of aggression and use of force in against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country. Non-use of pressures by any country against other countries.
8. Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
9. Promotion of mutual interest and cooperation.
10. Respect for justice and international obligations.
The Bandung Conference was organized in three working commissions: political, economic and cultural. The Final Communiqué issued at that time incorporated the conclusions of the Conference on economic cooperation, cultural cooperation, rights of men, self-determination, issues of the dependent peoples, promotion of peace, and the world cooperation with the principles of peaceful coexistence as well as the condemnation of racial discrimination and radioactivity.
In 1960, in light of the results achieved in Bandung, the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was given a decisive boost during the XV Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, during which 17 new African and Asian countries were admitted. A key role was played in this process by the then Heads of State and Government Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Ahmed Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, who later became the founding fathers of the Movement and its emblematic leaders.
Six years after Bandung, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was officially established, on a wider geographical basis, at the First Summit Conference of Belgrade, which was held on from 1-6 September 1961. The Conference was attended by 25 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yugoslavia.
The Founders of NAM have preferred to declare it as a Movement but not an Organization, in order to avoid bureaucratic implications of the latter.
The membership criteria formulated during the Preparatory Conference to the Belgrade Summit (Cairo, 1961) show that the Movement was not conceived to play a passive role in international politics but to formulate its own positions in an independent manner so as to reflect the interests of its members.
Thus, the primary of objectives of the non-aligned countries focused on the support of self-determination, national independence and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States; opposition to apartheid; non-adherence to multilateral military pacts and the independence of non-aligned countries from great power or block influences and rivalries; the struggle against imperialism in all its forms and manifestations; the struggle against colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, foreign occupation and domination; disarmament; non-interference into the internal affairs of States and peaceful coexistence among all nations; rejection of the use or threat of use of force in international relations; the strengthening of the United Nations; the democratization of international relations; socioeconomic development and the restructuring of the international economic system; as well as international cooperation on an equal footing.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) played a key role in the struggle for the establishment of a new international economic order that allowed all the peoples of the world to make use of their wealth and natural resources and provided a wide platform for a fundamental change in international economic relations and the economic emancipation of the countries of the South.
During its more than 50 years of existence, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has gathered a growing number of States and liberation movements which, in spite of their ideological, political, economic, social and cultural diversity, have accepted its founding principles and primary objectives and shown their readiness to realize them. Historically, the non-aligned countries have shown their ability to overcome their differences and found a common ground for action that leads to mutual cooperation and the upholding of their shared values. The true spirit of non-alignment is best characterized by the solidarity amongst the Member States of the Movement, which enhances its unity and cohesion.