Speech by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during the XVI Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Conference and Commemorative Meeting in Bali (Indonesia) - May 25, 2011

Honourable Chairperson and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia,
Honourable Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen

I wish to express my delegation’s sincere appreciation to the government and people of Indonesia, for hosting this historic NAM Ministerial and 50th Commemorative Meeting and the hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival on this beautiful island of Bali. Terima kasih!

We would like to express our appreciation to the Chair of our Movement, Egypt, for the excellent work they continue to carry out - of coordinating and steering the activities of this glorious Movement.  It is befitting that we meet here on the shores of Indonesia where the idea of NAM was originally conceived, to commemorate half a century of the illustrious existence of this gigantic Movement.

Honourable Chairperson,

As fate would have it and not a mere coincidence of history, as I stand here to address this august gathering, the people of the African Continent are gathering in different parts of the continent, in particular Addis Ababa, to celebrate Africa Day. You will recall the role that Africans played in the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement, and its existence over the years. This then provides us with an opportunity as we commemorate the 50 years of NAM’s existence to locate in the same context the struggles of the African people for decolonization, economic independence and sustainable development.

The world has changed since Nasser, Kwame Nkrumar, Shi Jawaharlal Nehru, Ahmed Sukarno and Marshall Tito first met to reflect on issues of international relations, peace and security, conflicts and development. We are here today presented with an opportunity to look back and reflect on our common achievements of the past 50 years and agree on a shared vision of the Movement’s role for the next 50 years.

One of the most critical questions that have been raised by scholars, academics, analysts and detractors, concerns the relevance of NAM in today’s globalized world. This Movement was formed at the height of the Cold War, and adopted the important principle of non-alignment. It is the NAM that brought the concept of non-alignment closer to the concept of the centrality of multilateralism. Made up of 25 countries at its formation, it has today grown to 120 Members as we welcome Fiji and Azerbaijan to the Movement.

As we take stock of what we all have achieved under the banner of the Non-Aligned Movement, we are proud that since Bandung, the NAM became a home for developing countries; as it demanded the resolution of international tensions and wars. It called for peace and dis-armament, inspired by the principle of non-alignment.

We are grateful to the role that NAM has played in the decolonization of our continent of Africa and the struggle against Apartheid in our country. The NAM brought a new appreciation to the important principle of the sovereignty of states. More than anything, the NAM brought back our pride as a people, worthy enough to enjoy all the rights contained in the United Nations Charter - which all human beings enjoy.


As we celebrate 50 years of a sometimes turbulent and trying history, which culminated in the liberation of so many, we shall not stand oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead of us all. As we begin our next 50 years towards our centenary, we are inspired by the words of our icon and statesman President Nelson Mandela, during the 1998 NAM Summit:

“We commit ourselves to work tirelessly for the eradication of poverty and under-development”. He went further to say that as the NAM “we need to encourage the peaceful resolution of conflicts within and between countries, to defeat terrorism and vigorously pursue the objective of nuclear disarmament”.

True to these words uttered more than a decade ago at the close of the twentieth century, the Non-Aligned Movement will in the next 50 years have to tirelessly deal with the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment, peaceful resolution of conflict, terrorism, climate change, respect for human rights, issues of dis-armament and the resolution of the Palestinian question.  All these issues will require us to continue to contribute to the strengthening of multilateralism and ensuring that the UN remains at the centre of global governance.

These are the challenges of our time and the future. As the theme of our Conference “Shared Vision on the Contribution of NAM for the next 50 years” dictates, we have to define a common vision to deal with these various challenges. We need a Movement that is ready and confident, willing to redouble its efforts in a manner that will prove to the sceptics, that the NAM represents the future.

As we meet here today Honourable Chairperson, the world has in the past three months witnessed the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. These developments call for a renewed focus and redoubling of efforts towards the resolution of the Palestinian and the Saharawi questions.  We will continue to support all efforts and initiatives towards the creation of the independent state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

We remain deeply concerned with the on-going conflict in Libya and the accompanying humanitarian crisis. We call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the launch of a political dialogue to resolve the current impasse. We call on all the parties to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. We remain committed to the efforts of the African Union to find a political solution to the Libyan conflict.


Seventeen years after our liberation in South Africa, we remain indebted to the role that the NAM has played in our struggle against Apartheid. For this reason, my country will continue to contribute to the strengthening of this august Movement, in order for it to discharge its historic responsibilities in the next fifty years. 

My delegation is of the firm view that the NAM remains relevant in today’s globalized world and this conference provides an opportunity to re-affirm the principles that have guided this movement in the past fifty years. Indeed, it also provides an opportunity to consolidate unity, coherence and solidarity of our Movement as we march to the next fifty years.

In an effort to strengthen multilateralism, NAM will have to remain resolute in its call for the reform of Institutions of Global Governance, in particular the IMF, World Bank and the United Nations. We should continue to contribute to the debate on the reform of the UN in general, and the Security Council in particular. The current anachronistic composition of the Security Council and the lack of representation of Africa in the permanent category are unsustainable.  The Security Council has to be reformed as a matter of urgency to reflect the current global realities, for it to remain relevant and maintain its legitimacy.

The Movement has to remain at the forefront of the struggle for the advancement and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms; gender equality and women empowerment. In this regard, we should take advantage of the review of the Human Rights Council and find ways to improve and strengthen the Council to make it more responsive, effective and efficient.

The scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerances still remain a challenge to this day. We have to continue to ensure that the fight against racism remains on the agenda of the international community and the UN in particular. In this regard we would like to recall that the UN General Assembly has adopted a Resolution calling for a High-Level Meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Durban Declaration and its Programme of Action remains the main programme in the fight against racism and the NAM should continue to call for its full and effective implementation.
Honourable Chairperson,
Through-out the fifty years of NAM’s existence, disarmament and peace has been a basic principle of non-alignment. We have to remain resolute in our commitment towards disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

South Africa believes that the Non-Proliferation Treaty should remain the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime. We are encouraged by the fact that the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review conference have the potential of strengthening global peace and security and could play a meaningful role in outlining the future approach towards an eventual world free of nuclear weapons. 

The Non-Aligned Movement should continue to be a significant and major player in UN peace-keeping operations. We must therefore, as a collective, remain steadfast in ensuring that the UN peacekeeping operations at all times adheres to the guiding principles of peacekeeping, namely consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force. We must therefore continue to ensure that all peacekeeping mandates support and complement political processes and strategies. 

Honourable Chairperson,

A significant number of NAM countries remain in the category of Least Developed and Low Income Countries, and this should be a major concern for our next 50 years. The achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including MDGs remains elusive.

The recent financial and economic crisis has only exacerbated the situation, with many of our members, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa facing a risk of not achieving the MDGs by the target date of 2015.  We should do everything we can in solidarity and in partnership, as countries of the South to improve the economic well-being of our people. 

Climate change continues to be a common challenge to our common existence with varying consequences in different regions of the world, with a direct bearing on our developmental efforts. South Africa, as President of COP17/CMP7 will continue to seek a balanced outcome along the two tracks of the negotiations.

We take this opportunity to appeal to all of you in the NAM to do everything you can to support us as we carry out this historic responsibility of being a President of COP17. With your support, we are certain that we will be able to steer the conference to a successful and balanced conclusion.

The next fifty years will be long, rough and bumpy, but the same resolve and principles that sustained us until now will see us through. The NAM, based on it’s tried and tested principles, remains a progressive force of the South and more than ever relevant in today’s world.

In closing Honourable Chairperson,

We would like to take this opportunity to inform this august gathering that the people of South Africa will next year in January celebrate the centenary anniversary of the African National Congress - the oldest political movement in Africa. Through-out its 100 years of existence, the ANC drew its inspiration from the liberation and decolonization struggles of the NAM member-states. We look forward to welcoming you to our shores.

I thank you!

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