The 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement was held on 25-26 October in Baku, the Republic of Azerbaijan. The 18th Summit was organised under the theme ‘Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world’. The Baku Declaration was issued at the conclusion of the 18th Summit which reaffirmed the principles upon which the Non-Aligned Movement has been built.

The Baku Declaration reaffirmed the commitment of NAM to the adherence to UN Charter. It reiterated NAM’s strong commitment to the purposes, principles and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and acknowledged that the United Nations is comprised of the rich diversity of political, economic, social and cultural systems of our humanity, which shall be embraced and respected, while also stressing their opposition to all attempts of imposition on any State of particular models or systems, as well as their commitment to promoting dialogue and tolerance.

The Baku Declaration stressed on the significance of multilateralism and acknowledged that preserving and strengthening the values of multilateralism and international cooperation, which underpin the Charter of the United Nations and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is fundamental to promoting and supporting the three pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, development and human rights.

One of the long-standing demands of NAM has been to make the United Nations more representative to ensure that the voice of the developing nations are heard. As such, the Baku Declaration called for further strengthening and modernizing the United Nations, revitalizing the UN General Assembly and strengthening its authority as the most democratic, accountable, universal and representative body of the organization, including in the area of international peace and security. The Baku Declaration also stressed on the need for reforming the UN Security Council, in order to transform it into a more democratic, effective, efficient, transparent and representative body, and in line with contemporary geo-political realities.

The Baku Declaration also reaffirmed the significance of adhering to the principles of International Law. The Declaration categorically stated that States shall respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, the sovereign equality, political independence and inviolability of international borders of other States, comply with the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs, the abstention from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of States, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, recommit to support and promote these principles of international law and to continue opposing any attempt aimed at partial or total disruption of the national unity or territorial integrity of States.

The Baku Declaration also recognised the scourge of terrorism and expressed concerns at the security threat the phenomenon posed for global peace. The Declaration reaffirmed that that acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations are activities aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening the territorial integrity and security of States and destabilizing the legitimately constituted Governments, and that the international community should take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism. The Declaration called for strengthening NAM solidarity in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whosoever committed, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and the relevant international conventions.

Disarmament has been a major objective of NAM since its inception. Thus, the Baku Declaration called for eliminating the threat posed to the human species by the existence of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. The Declaration reiterated NAM’s consistent calls for strengthening the existing Nuclear Weapon Free Zones.

NAM is the largest and most effective voice of Global South in the international order advancing the interests of the developing world. Achieving the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is critical for the developing world. The Baku Declaration thus calls for working towards the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, leaving no one behind. The Declaration emphasised that the 2030 Agenda is universal and transformative, based on peoples’ needs and interest. The Baku Declaration also emphasised the importance of South-South cooperation. The Declaration regards South-South Cooperation as an expression of solidarity and cooperation among the peoples and countries of the South, which contributes to their national wellbeing, guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in the internal affairs, and mutual benefit.