Non-Aligned Movement was envisaged during the Cold War period when the international order was marked by two major power blocs – USA and USSR. NAM was formed as an organisation of states that did not seek to align themselves either of the two power blocs. The first Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State, at which 25 countries were represented, was convened at Belgrade in September 1961. NAM Member States have since then followed an independent foreign policy based on the principles of world peace, mutual coexistence, disarmament, anti-colonialism and the removal of economic imbalance inherited from colonialism and imperialism.
Since the end of Cold War, scholars have been of the opinion that NAM’s relevance ceased with the approaching 1990’s and disappearing Cold War, as it had served its purpose of avoiding another war along with safeguarding then nations who no more wanted to be ruled and handled by other nations. Statesmen have even gone to the extent to call NAM in the contemporary times lacking vision and real issues.
However, many Non-Aligned countries claim that the international peace and preservation along with various other monumental feats in maintaining harmony and serenity has been the result of their long hard work and continues to be so. Also NAM has restructured itself donning a novel role and structure, modifying work methods to keep itself focused on present issues and realities.
Non-Aligned movement continues to struggle hard to prove its worth by striving to work for the following contemporary issues including, setting up a New International Order through UN, restructuring and democratization of the UN, strengthening of the UNCTAD and UNIDO, coordinating with the G-77 and stressing South-South Cooperation. NAM has been assisting in areas of food cooperation, population, trade and investment, ensuring equitable international flow of trade and transfer of technology, working for non-proliferation and nuclear weapon free world, combating terrorism, extremism and racism, fighting poverty, drug trafficking and environmental degradation, and, opposing interventionism and imposition of economic conditions on developing countries.
However, from all accounts, the Cold War is breaking out again. The United States has identified both China and Russia as adversaries, whose leaders, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, are strong and determined to stand up to it.
In a situation where the world is no longer bifurcated between two dominant powers, Non-Alignment today will require managing complicated coalitions and opportunities in an environment that is not structurally settled. An obvious way is to breathe life into NAM and make it fit to deal with the new norm.
It has to unload its previous baggage, of a movement conceived in the context of a bipolar world and adapt to the needs of a tripolar world, which could become a multipolar world. A partnership of near equals like IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) with similar interests without any ideological conflict is probably the best model to follow.
Something on the lines of the G-15 organised by India and like-minded countries some years ago could be put together with the objective of dealing with the kind of issues identified.
In a world where such polarities will continue to exist and even if ceased will always rear its head and for that reason Non-Aligned Movement can never outlive its utility. Non-Aligned Movement, according to many, may have lost its appeal but under the wraps of its collaboration, it will have to continue to work for the entire globe in order to maintain peace and harmony while, continuing to take measures to raise the global living standards.