The non-aligned Movement, or NAM, was founded in 1961 in Belgrade, Serbia. The movement came at the height of the Cold War and many of the countries had recently abandoned colonial ties. Most of the 25 nations that joined the initial formation were countries that did not want to be part of the conflict as an independent nation. Many argued in the first summit that “the current military blocs … necessarily provoke periodic aggravations of international relations”. The non-aligned movement was trying to promote “sovereign equality, political and economic self-determination, justice and freedom”, for all nations that did not want to play as pawns in a larger imperial game.
To gain adherence to the non-aligned Movement, countries must demonstrate how they obeyed the “Bandung Principles” of 10, which are a set of principles created during the years prior to the creation of the NAM. Furthermore, member countries cannot participate in military agreements with the United States of America or the Soviet Union. These principles include respect for territorial boundaries, recognition of independence and promotion of mutual interests and cooperation. Accession began with the 25 countries and has now passed to member countries 120.
The non-aligned Movement, true to its original purposes, does not conform to a traditional leadership or organizational structure. The current ‘leader’ or president of the Non-Aligned Movement is Venezuela, which takes over from Iran which held the position from 2012 until 2016. Summits are held every year from 3 to 4, which is the place where the leadership or the presidency is transferred to a new country. All member countries have equal rights within the Non-Alignment Movement, unlike the United Nations, where some countries have more power and weight behind their votes or decisions on certain policies.
There are several key principles and objectives of the organization that include compliance with the United Nations Charter and the Bandung Principles. The Non-Aligned Movement is also active in nuclear disarmament, as well as in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. NAM also supports human rights for all, but strongly resists a globalized culture and / or cultural imperialism. The Non-Aligned Movement also has several committees, task forces and working groups. These include the human rights working group, the Somalia Task Force, the Palestine Commission and the disarmament working group, among others.
- Current status
Today, the Non-Aligned Movement has 120 member countries and nations with observer status 17 in the organization. Key members include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, to name a few. The organization contains about two-thirds of the UN member countries and about 55% of the entire world population. One of the main challenges for the Non-Aligned Movement is the fact that there is only the main power block 1 which is NATO. The organization has struggled to re-contextualize itself in a world without a Cold War. The Non-Aligned Movement participated in the reforms of the United Nations organization, in sustainable development initiatives, in the self-determination of Puerto Rico and Western Sahara, in addition to being an important critic of US foreign policy. Many decisions made within the organization are unfortunately ignored by many Western nations.