The Baku Conference of the newly established Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network was organized for three days starting on June 30 and ending on July 2, 2022. The inauguration of the Parliamentary Network conference also coincided with the International Day of Parliamentarism which is celebrated on 30th June.

The conference was organized at the Heydar Aliyev Centre and attended by dignitaries from over 40 countries. It adopted the Baku Declaration and Regulations on the Rules of procedure of the Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement, the official logo and flag. In addition, the chairman and vice-chairmen of the parliamentary group were also elected.

In the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which was hosted at Baku by chair Azerbaijan in 2019, it was decided that NAM counties will need to “expand and deepen interaction and cooperation with parliamentarians of NAM on the recognition that they can perform a constructive role towards the attainment of the principles, ideals and purposes of the Movement.”

Based on this impetus, the Parliamentary Network comprising NAM member states was established on November 28 last year during the inaugural meeting in Madrid, Spain. The conduct of its first conference further bolsters the confidence in NAM promoting democratic principles and also increases the threshold of cooperation to include lawmakers in member states.

NAM Chair and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the Baku conference and thanked the members for supporting the initiative of Azerbaijan. He mentioned: “I am sure that our Parliamentary Network not only will contribute to solidarity between our countries, but also will establish close working relations with different parliamentary organizations of the world.” Highlighting the fact that the NAM is the second largest institution after United Nations, Aliyev also mentioned that it was the right time to pitch NAM’s voice at the international arena and “consolidate our efforts to strengthen our potential, to strengthen solidarity, try to speak with one voice.”

In addition to mentioning about the upcoming Youth Summit in Baku in August, the President of Azerbaijan lamented about a number of problems in the world too, such as the lack of COVID vaccines in developing countries among other issues, he suggested, “NAM can be a platform to find resolution to these problems and also should be a platform to defend the interests of our countries.”

The NAM Parliamentary Network Baku conference was also addressed by UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid through a video address. Thanking members for the invite, the UNGA President said that strengthening of NAM is a “cause of hope” as global challenges “test the resilience of multilateral system.” He also appreciated the role of cooperation among parliamentarians in individual countries and said, “International diplomatic efforts alone cannot achieve success. To reach national and local levels we need the support of legislative bodies.” He mentioned the challenges of the covid pandemic and highlighted the importance of the 2030 UN sustainable development goals. He hoped that the NAM Parliamentary Network will bolster the gender equality and parity in society and become “an example of what we can achieve.”

Among other dignitaries, the conference was addressed by the Speaker of the Azerbaijan Legislative body, Sahiba Gafarova, who mentioned, “Today the parliaments of more than 40 NAM states and eight international parliamentary organizations are represented at the Baku Conference, “the collective support of the NAM parliament for these initiatives has been reflected in the Madrid Declaration and will also be reiterated in the Baku Declaration that we have agreed to adopt today.”

NAM is a grouping of 120 countries that are not aligned with any major power bloc and mostly comprises the South countries. Being the second largest grouping after United Nations, the Parliamentary Network’s institution will send a strong message of solidarity among non-aligned countries. It also shows that despite division of the world due to Ukraine and other tensions, majority of the countries in the global south have showed their faith in bolstering a multilateral world order.

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