The Non-Aligned Movement, which comprises 120 Member States today and is the largest grouping of the developing world, was founded and held its first conference (the Belgrade Conference) in 1961 under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sukarno of Indonesia. The Belgrade Conference was attended by 25 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yugoslavia. Since its inception at the Belgrade Conference, NAM has emerged as the most vocal voice of the global South.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the first NAM Conference, a two-day Summit was held on October 11 and 12, 2021 in the Serbian capital Belgrade. Serbia, which is a legal successor to the former Yugoslavia. Serbia is currently an observer at NAM. Delegations from 105 countries and 11 international organizations, with about 550 people were present at the event. The meeting was co-hosted by Serbia and Azerbaijan, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement. The participants reiterated their commitment to the ideals of NAM.

Addressing the Summit via a video link, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said that Non-Aligned Movement has a critical role to play in the world. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, was one of the prominent attendees at the commemorative meeting. He commended the work of the NAM and said that the relationship between the United Nations and NAM continues to be encouraging and commended the Member States of NAM for adhering to the Bandung principles, which correspond closely to the Charter of the United Nations. “Both aim to achieve international peace and security. Both endeavour to uphold the fundamental respect for human rights, the need for equality and tolerance, and the constant pursuit of peaceful resolution to conflicts,” he said. He also commended NAM’s support for a multilateral approach to COVID-19.
The Serbian President Vucic said that Non-Aligned countries played an essential role in maintaining global peace during the Cold War, calling it a “success story.” He said the commemoration of the 1961 founding NAM conference was aimed at paying a tribute to a movement that had made a significant contribution in an era when the world was divided into blocs, creating a vision based on respect.

Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement said that since its establishment in 1961 in Belgrade, NAM has played an important role in the international arena with its dedicated efforts for the sake of global peace, justice and solidarity in the world. Being the largest international institution after the UN General Assembly, NAM is considered a genuine example of multilateralism with its cross-regional membership, uniting 120 countries from diverse historical, political, and cultural backgrounds. “The historical Bandung principles, such as the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, refraining from acts of aggression, and the non-interference in the internal affairs lie at the core of the NAM. Those principles remain valid and essential in the current international relations”, the Azerbaijan President remarked.

India was one of the founder members of NAM. At the commemorative meeting, Minister of State for External Affairs, Meenakshi Lekhi, represented India. She remarked that the core NAM principles have provided potential and moral impetus for decolonization process, leading to independence of many of the countries represented in this room today. It brought to the fore an international culture of justice and peace, and an emphasis on promoting mutual interest, solidarity and respect for national sovereignty. The Indian Minister also urged NAM to speak in a collective voice. “Our founding leaders had envisaged the Non-Aligned Movement as a way to carve out autonomous space on geopolitical landscape for the developing countries.

We need to ensure that we stay committed to that cause, so that we actually realise the aspirations of our people for socio-economic, scientific and technological development”, she remarked.

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