Russia not only broke the nuclear monopoly of U.S.A. but started piling up nuclear weapons. Thus, a nuclear race between the two Super Powers commenced. Undoubtedly, it was a dangerous trend fraught with the possibility of a Third World War. Bitterness between the two Super Powers escalated to such an extent that they fought many a war by proxy e.g., Korea, Indo-China, Afghanistan, etc. The world was gradually but surely drifting towards another World War.
It was in this context of big-power rivalry and the dark clouds of war hovering over the horizon that Pt. Nehru came out with his concept of Non- Alignment. He felt that newly independent Afro-Asian countries should keep aloof from the military alliances with one or the other Super Power. It was in their self-interest not to become a camp follower of one or the other bloc. Each country should view developments independently and not with glasses provided by any Super Power. Having won their freedom after a long struggle, they should concentrate on the rebuilding of their nations rather than getting entangled in international conflicts.
The sane views of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru found echo in the Afro-Asian conference held at Bandung (Indonesia) in April 1955. These countries resolved not to get involved in international conflicts and settle matters among themselves on the principles of “Panch Sheel”, the five golden principles of: (i) mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, (ii) mutual non-aggression, (iii) mutual non-interference in each other’s affairs, (iv) equality and mutual benefit, and (v) peaceful co-existence.
These principles were given a practical shape at Brioni in Yugoslavia at a meeting held in July 1956 among Pt. Nehru of India, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia and Colonel Nasser of Egypt. These three leaders are regarded as the chief architects of the Non-aligned Movement.
Explaining the basic principles of Non-alignment, Pt. Nehru said, “We propose as far as possible to keep away from power blocs or groups aligned against each other. We propose to keep on the closest terms of friendship with all countries, unless they themselves create difficulties. We shall be friends of America and intend cooperating with them. We intend also to cooperate fully with the Soviet Union.”
Non-Aligned Movement has been gaining wider acceptance over the years. The membership of tiles movement has goneupfrom25 countries in 1961 to 114 countries in 1998.
In fact, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has not only survived the Cold War but successfully withstood the challenge to its relevance in the post- Cold War era. That it is alive and its member-countries met in Durban at its 12th Summit, can be attributed to the resolve of its members not to close shop.
Unlike North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the very aim of which was to wage a war with the then Soviet Union, the aims and objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement for not aligning with any power bloc, are still most relevant. Its members are subjected to discrimination and exploitation. However, many of them have enthusiastically embraced globalisation and liberalisation, though their economic U-turn has failed to meet their expectations.
The Non-Aligned Movement had come in for sharp criticism at the hands of the Super Powers. In the beginning, U.S.S.R. felt that the movement was tilted towards U.S.A., whereas U.S.A. thought that it was pro-Russian. The fact that both the Super Powers feel that the movement is more tilted towards one or the other bloc shows that it is in fact not aligned with either bloc. Now these very Super Powers are veering round the view that this movement has kept a substantial number of countries away from conflicts and wars and, therefore, has made a significant contribution to world peace.
Some countries view Non-Aligned Movement as a passive and negative policy. Resolutions passed by non-aligned countries are at best pious hopes without any legal sanction. Such a criticism is not fair. The history of the movement shows that non-aligned countries have been taking keen and active interest in the affairs of the world. They have been preventing conflicts between nations. They have always upheld the U.N. Charter. They have always raised their voice in favour of anti-colonialism, disarmament, anti-racialism, human rights, etc. Thus non-aligned countries have always followed a positive, dynamic and purposeful policy.
In a report issued in May, 1984, the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation had described the Non-Aligned Movement as a powerful force which helps determine the course of events in the world today. The report declared, “Non- alignment has come to stay as the voice of resurgent people”.
Now the question being raised is whether NAM has become irrelevant due to an end of the cold war and disintegration of U.S.S.R. But those who argue this have failed to see that NAM has become more important in this unipolar world in which U.S.A. is the only Super Power. It has a membership of one hundred and fourteen. It indicates that NAM still has an important role to play. NAM is more or less the voice of the people of the world. Moreover in the coming years, the world would witness economic warfare and during that time NAM and G-77 will have to work closely together in order to protect the developing and under-developed countries. One thing which is threatening the existence of NAM is the lack of proper leadership.
The 12th NAM Summit was held in Durban in South Africa on 2 September 1998. The 12th NAM Summit endorsed India’s initiative by adopting a broad approach for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the Declaration released at Durban. The Summit also overwhelmingly endorsed India’s proposal for an international summit to formulate a joint global response to terrorism of all forms and manifestations, but opposed “elective and unilateral” actions that violated the United Nations charter. It emphasised that international cooperation to combat terrorism should be conducted in conformity with the principles of the UN charter.
On the political issue, the Durban Summit had stressed the need for a bilateral dialogue to secure a peaceful solution to all outstanding issues and the promotion of the thirteenth summit of NAM was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2003. The Heads of 116 nations, the members of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), assembled at the Cuba’s capital of Havana for their 14th Summit on September 15, 2006. In the absence of the Cuban President, Mr. Fidel Castro, his brother and Acting President Mr. Raul Castro Ruz hosted the Summit, which was attended by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan was also present at the Summit as an observer.
In his opening address, Mr. Raul Castro said the NAM continued to be relevant even after the end of bipolarity in the international arena to resist the only superpower’s unilateral attempt to control the world. The doctrine of preventive war and the imposition of regime change on the pretext of combating terrorism, promoting democracy and controlling rogue States had made the world a more dangerous place. In his speech, the United Nations Secretary- General Mr. Kofi Annan called upon the members to strengthen the three pillars of development, security and human rights which were the prerequisites for world peace.
Warning that the NAM cannot be ambiguous on the issue of terrorism if it wanted to be relevant, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh told its leaders to united fight the scourge and not allow the forces of extremism to distract the world’s attention from development issues. Dr. Manmohan Singh invited NAM members to join its efforts to achieve universal disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons.
The fifteenth summit of NAM was held in sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 16th July 2009. The leaders of India and Pakistan took a significant step towards thawing the bilateral relations during the Summit with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani agreeing that dialogue between the two countries is the only way forward. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa hold a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the NAM Summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, and discuss several issues such as the fate of the internally displaced people, the devolution of power and the development of the war-ravaged regions of the island nation.
The Non-Aligned Movement has not lost its validity. It continues to be relevant even today. Its inherent strength can be gauged from the fact that more than 116 independent sovereign countries have joined it. The views expressed by such a broad-based body cannot be brushed aside easily. These views carry great moral conviction and as such play a decisive role in moulding public opinion. Thus the Non-Aligned Movement is a movement for establishing an enduring world peace.