Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

What is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), NATO

Mains level : Relevance of NAM

Non-alignment is an old concept today, and India has adopted an approach of “issue-based alignment”, according to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Try this question for mains:

Q.“The gradual exit of the US from institutional geopolitics has created an ocean of opportunity for small nations”. Discuss.

What is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)?

  • The NAM is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • The group was started in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961.
  • After the UN, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.

Its formation

  • NAM emerged in the context of the wave of decolonization that followed World War II.
  • It was created by Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito, India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s second President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.
  • All five leaders believed that developing countries should not help either the Western or Eastern blocs in the Cold War.
  • As a condition for membership, the states of the NAM cannot be part of a multilateral military alliance (such as the NATO) or have signed a bilateral military agreement with one of the “big powers” involved in Great Power conflicts.
  • However, its idea does not signify that a state ought to remain passive or even neutral in international politics.

Its relevance today

  • One of the challenges of the NAM in the 21st century has been to reassess its identity and purpose in the post-Cold War era.
  • The movement has continued to advocate for international cooperation, multilateralism, and national self-determination, but it has also been increasingly vocal against the inequities of the world economic order.
  • On the contrary, from the founding of the NAM, its stated aim has been to give a voice to developing countries and to encourage their concerted action in world affairs.

The geopolitics of opportunity

  • Non-alignment was a term of a particular era and geopolitical landscape. One aspect was independence, which remains a factor of continuity for India.
  • The consequences of global shifts, including the US and the assertiveness of China, are opening spaces for middle powers like India, Japan, the EU and others.

US repositioning has impacted everyone

  • The consequence of repositioning of the US, that the big umbrella is now smaller than it used to be, has allowed many other countries to play more autonomous roles.
  • India needs to take more “risks”, as the world expected it to take a more proactive stance on various issues including connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, climate change and terrorism.
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