Non-Aligned Movement

HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) with its 118 member States, is the largest grouping of countries outside of the United Nations itself, making of it an important lobby in global affairs.

Since its inception in 1961, the Movement has played a crucial and highly visible political role in representing the interests of developing countries, particularly in the eradication of colonialism, supporting struggles for liberation and self-determination, the pursuit of world peace and the search for a more equitable and just global order.

In this regard, the Movement also strongly supported the causes of democracy and justice in South Africa and from the outset South African liberation movements participated as observers in its activities. At its Ministerial Meeting in Cairo in 1994, in the same year that democratic elections were held, South Africa joined the Movement. South Africa soon after assumed the Chair of the Movement, when it hosted the XII NAM Summit of Heads of State or Government in Durban from 29 August - 3 September 1998. During the next four historically eventful years South Africa sought, as Chair, to adhere to and advance the principles first enunciated at the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung that led to the establishment of the Movement. It sought also to remain highly engaged in the Palestinian question and the evolving Iraq crisis, the challenges to multilateralism and the role of the United Nations. The Zimbali process at ministerial level initiated a review of the methodology and organisation of the NAM and the need for a revitalisation of the Movement. A new relationship was also established with inter alia the G8 and EU and relations with the G77 were strengthened (see www.nam.gov.za).

During South Africa's incumbency the fourtieth anniversary of the founding of the NAM was celebrated. The calendar of international events also included conferences for which developing countries needed to be well prepared in order to advance their strategic objectives. Of significance were the Millennium Round trade negotiations held in Seattle November 1999, the South Summit in Havana in April 2000, the Millennium Summit and Assembly of the United Nations in 2000 and the Durban World Conference Against Racism Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, August - September 2001.

South Africa handed over the Chair to Malaysia at the XIII NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur in February 2003, and remained a member of the NAM Troika of past, present and future chairs until Cuba assumed the Chair in September 2006. In August 2004 South Africa hosted the XIV NAM Ministerial or mid-term review Conference in Durban on behalf of the Africa-group. This event was held back-to-back with the AASROC II Conference in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the Bandung Conference in 2005.

GENERAL COMMENTS

The XII Non-Aligned Movement Summit, Durban, South Africa, 1998

The XII Non-Aligned Movement Summit was attended by 46 Heads of State or Government and 70 Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Of great significance was the presence of representatives of the chairs of the Group of 8 industrial countries (G8) and the European Union, who for the first time attended a NAM Summit. The presence of representatives of the North boded well for future dialogue between developing and developed countries and contributed towards a better understanding of the concerns and aspirations of the South. More importantly, such a large presence of developed countries demonstrated the continued validity and growing importance of the Movement and its underlying philosophies.

With regard to political issues, the Summit reaffirmed the commitment of member states to nuclear disarmament, to combat mercenary activities perpetrated from their territories, to bring the reform of the United Nations to a satisfactory conclusion and to actively work towards the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The Summit also deliberated on economic issues that have been of concern to developing countries, such as external debt, poverty eradication, trade and development and financial and monetary issues. The Summit further adopted the report of an Ad Hoc Panel of Economists on Elements for an Agenda of the South.

Having reached consensus on these challenges and issues, the Summit mandated a process of identifying priority areas in which practical and action-oriented steps could be taken to advance the strategic objectives of the Movement. An Action Plan was adopted at the XIII Ministerial Conference of the NAM held in Cartagena, April 2000.

Meetings and Activities of the Chair and Co-ordinating Bureau

NAM Co-ordinating Bureau in New York

Permanent Representatives of NAM member countries in New York serve on the NAM Co-ordinating Bureau, which meets monthly or when necessary, in order to implement the decisions of Summits and to co-ordinate the activities of the Movement in the United Nations. Meetings of the Bureau are also utilised to discuss topical issues and to receive reports of the NAM Working Groups. It further meets in preparation for Summits and ministerial meetings, including the annual ministerial meetings of the NAM during the regular sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.

NAM Working Groups and Committees:

NAM Working Group on Disarmament
NAM Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations
NAM Working Group on Human Rights
NAM Working Group on Sixth Committee Matters
NAM Working Group on the Restructuring of the Security Council
Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus
NAM Troika of Ambassadors
NAM Committee on Palestine
Activities of the Movement in other United Nations Centres in Geneva and Nairobi

Co-ordination with the Group of 77 & China: the Joint Co-ordination Committee (JCC)

In accordance with the mandate of the XII Summit, the Chairs of the NAM and the G77 & China closely co-operate to enhance the solidarity of developing countries in the United Nations System and South-South Co-operation in general. A Joint Co-ordinating Committee of the NAM and G77 (JCC), co-chaired by the Chairs of NAM and the G77, meets in New York as and when required, e.g. to co-ordinate inputs ensuring that the concerns of the developing countries were reflected in the Millennium Summit planning and draft outcome document. South Africa will chair the G77 & China during 2006.

Havana Summit, September 2006

The XIV Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement was hosted by Cuba in Havana in September 2006, on which occasion Cuba also assumed the Chair for the next three years. Egypt will host the Summit in 2009.

The XIV NAM Summit devoted itself in large measure to South-South solidarity as well as rejuvenation of the Movement through a review of its methodology and structures, in order to remain relevant in world affairs.

Updated 1 December 2006
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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa