Havana is preparing for the 14th NAM Summit on September 15 and 16. Ironically, the movement is caught between contradictory pulls, the lofty ideals of peace and justice and the imperatives of the national interests of its leading members. One of the pioneers of the movement i.e India voted against one of the NAM members ie Iran in the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, ostensibly to preserve its deal on the transfer of nuclear technology by a superpower to whom NAM showed aversion during the Cold War era. The problem of unity in the movement has been further compounded by the absence of strong charismatic leadership.
It is a measure of the dilution of the movement that more than half of its members were directly or indirectly tied with either of the two superpowers in the cold war rivalry. Its sermons on disarmament match poorly with the fact that some of the biggest arms importers are among its prominent members. Its image has greatly been damaged by the violation of international law by its own members. While the organization was intended to be as close an alliance as NATO or the Warsaw Pact, it has little cohesion and many of its members were aligned with one or another of the great powers. For example, in view of these conditions, the onset of new millinium could well mark the acceleration of the process of political decay that had already beset the movement. The need of the hour is to resolve political and economic strifes, to stop the use of coercion among the members and not to acquiesce the use of force against the NAM members.
The post-cold war era, particularly the period after 9/11 is important for NAM for it has to justify its existence. Now when the world is no longer bipolar, NAM is looked upon by many as an anachronism. The same problem was a matter for concern for the leaders of NAM when they met at Nicosia in 1993. Besides, Third World debt, economic issues and the changed geo-strategic environment were discussed. They clamoured for NIEO more vociferously than ever. The Durbin Summit Meeting 1998 was important for many reasons. Firstly, South Africa once the epicenter of apartheid policy got the honour of hosting the meeting, secondly ther legendary Nelsen Mandela was the belle donna of the entire proceedings and thirdly the meeting was being held after the nuclear explosions of the two South Asian neighbours. It was against this backdrop that Mandela served a diplomatic blow to India by acknowledging the gravity of the Jammu and Kashmir doispute between India and Pakistan, and by expressing willingness on behalf of the internatiomnal community to extend every possible help in order to help resolve this issue.
It was at Durban that the idea of Bandung-II was conceived. It is true that NAM played a key strategic role in galvanizing the Third World countries to pursue on an independent course during cold war but now they faced the prospect of becoming irrelevant in the post-cold war ear in the new unipolar world of the 21st century. Thirteenth NAM Summit that was held at Kuala Lumpur (Feb 20-25, 2003 was to deal with this big question and to justify its existence. Malaysia was the chair. Foreign Minster of Malaysia Hamidal Bar expressed concern at the obtaining situation in the Middle East and called for the deployment of an international situation to grapple with the situation. The big challenge before the member countries during the Bandung II Conference 2005 was to revitalize NAM so that it can perform the role of new rallying point for the developing countries to protect their interests against the tide of globalization and seek structural reforms in the UN to allow the third world a voice in all political and economic negotiations. It must be countervailing force to the monopoly on power now exercised by G 8, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each with a veto power, the Britton Woods institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank and the vastly enlarged NATO and the European Union.
Only consensus and will by the member countries would promise the Movement's revitalization at time when its members are considering the urgent need of keeping its foundational principles alive and taking new steps toward unity, coordination and solidarity that will enable them to confront with a single voice the challenges facing the nations of South at this time. In response to the challenges posed by the post 9/11 period, and tendency by the sole super power to go to any length and to settle international disputes on its own terms and conditions at any cost, the Third World has decided - as is laid out in the Political Declaration - that the defence of multilateralism and the principles of the UN Charter are the basis for revitalizing the Movement. As the text states, to this end it is essential: "like never before, for our nations to remain united, firm and to shoulder a greater level of activism" to close the way to such pretensions.
NAM must become an agency for political coordination, nay it has to promote and defend the common interests of the Third World, as well as to foster unity and solidarity; defence of peace and international security; cooperation based on international law; and promotion of the sustainable development of the peoples of the developing world. Multilateralism and the strengthening of the role that should be played by the UN, the fight for nuclear disarmament and the promotion of South-South cooperation are some of the many other elements that have been precisely outlined in the document.
In response to this reality, Havana 2006 text proposes a plan of action that includes the strengthening of the NAM's ability to give an effective response to the different events and issues that affect the interests and priorities of its member states, just as it expresses the need to define and promote a political agenda for the global economic matters of interest to member nations. The Havana event will be, without a doubt, a stage where the South will show its ability and determination to close the way to unilateralism and coercion and frustrate the designs of the developed world stop them from reaping the fruits of development.
The writer is a Research Scholar.