The virtual Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group Summit on “United against Covid-19” through video conferencing was held recently. The meeting was convened at the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, in his capacity as chair of the Non Aligned Movement.
- Moreover 30 Heads of State and other leaders had joined the Summit. The Summit was also addressed by the UN General Assembly president and World Health Organisation (WHO) chief.
- It was the first time that PM Narendra Modi participated in a NAM Summit since he assumed the office in 2014.
- The objective of the Summit was to promote international solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to mobilise efforts of States and international organisations to address the pandemic. The event also commemorated the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.
- NAM leaders announce task force to identify needs of members
- Prime Minister emphasized the importance of a coordinated, inclusive and equitable response by the world to this crisis, outlining the steps India had taken domestically and internationally, while reaffirming India’s readiness to offer assistance in solidarity with the Movement, to the extent possible. PM also emphasized the importance of a continued effort by the world against other viruses, in particular terrorism and fake news.
- Following the summit, leaders adopted a declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against Covid-19.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance of peace.
The Indian national movement was not an isolated process. It was a part of the worldwide struggle against colonialism and imperialism. It influenced the liberation movements of many Asian and African countries.
Therefore, the noble ideals that inspired India’s struggle for freedom influenced the making of its foreign policy. But India’s attainment of independence coincided with the beginning of the Cold war era.
The foreign policy of independent India vigorously pursued the dream of a peaceful world by advocating the policy of non-alignment, by reducing Cold war tensions and by contributing human resources to the UN peacekeeping operations.
- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) had its origins in the Bandung Conference of April 1945 In Indonesia, inspired by three world leaders: Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Tito of Yugoslavia and Nasser of Egypt.
The Afro- Asian conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955, commonly known as the Bandung Conference, marked the zenith of India’s engagement with the newly independent Asian and African nations. The Bandung Conference later led to the establishment of the NAM. The First Summit of the NAM was held in Belgrade in September 1961. Nehru was a co-founder of the NAM
- Bandung formulated the concept of non-alignment based on the Third World desire not to become involved in the East-West ideological confrontation of the Cold War, and to focus instead on national independence struggles, the alleviation of poverty, and economic development. These principles were adopted at the founding non-aligned summit in Belgrade in 1961.
- Whereas NAM started with 25 members in 1961, it had 120 members as on April 2018 comprising 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM
Cold War Era
- Against Apartheid: The evil of apartheid was massively prevalent in African countries like South Africa, it was on the agenda of NAM right from first conference. During 2nd NAM conference at Cairo the government of South Africa was warned against the discriminatory practices of apartheid.
- UNSC reforms: Right from its inception NAM was in the favour of UNSC reforms, it was against the domination of US and USSR. It wanted the representation of third world countries to make UNSC more democratic. Members echoed with same demand at 17th NAM conference at Venezuela.
- Failed to resolve regional tensions: In the era of cold war the tension in South Asia escalated due to regional conflict between India- China and India-Pakistan. NAM failed to avoid tensions in the region, that further led to the the nuclearisation of the region.
- India being a founder and largest member in NAM was an active participant in NAM meetings till 1970s but India’s inclination towards erstwhile USSR created confusions in smaller members. It led to the weakening of NAM and small nations drifted towards either US or USSR.
- Prime Minister of India skipped the 17th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held in Venezuela in 2016, it was only second such instance when Head of a state didn’t participate in NAM conference.
- Moreover, NAM continued losing relevance for India in a unipolar world, especially after the founding members failed to support India during crisis. For instance, during 1962 War with China, Ghana and Indonesia, adopted explicitly pro-China positions. During 1965 and 1971 wars, Indonesia and Egypt took an anti India stance and supported Pakistan.
- India is striving hard for a multipolar world order and asserting itself as one of the player. Multi polar world order is very much closed to NAM principles.