Revisiting the Birthplace of Non-Aligned Movement

After 60 years, leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) returned to the organization’s birthplace in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. During the two-day meeting hosted by the Government of Serbia, the 60th anniversary was marked full of inspiring speeches, the leaders reaffirmed their collective commitment to strengthen the principles and multiple tasks that were set 60 years ago.

As the pandemic ranges on, developing countries seized the opportunity and strongly demanded a fairer global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and more funding from rich countries to help poorer ones adapt to a hotter world.

Speakers particularly hit out at global powers for failing to share vaccines equitably, suggesting poor countries were at the mercy of powerful states hoarding supplies.

“We are observers of a global power play and are subject to the benevolence of powerful countries who give out their hoarded (vaccine) supplies at their own pace,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo told the meeting in Belgrade.

Akufo-Addo stated at the gathering that “60 years later, the great powers have not disarmed, neither has the threat of nuclear war receded. They are still as powerful as they were then, and this has been highlighted by the Covid pandemic, and the unsavoury politics of vaccine nationalism we are currently witnessing.”

He bemoaned the fact that member states of NAM have become global power play, and are subject to the benevolence of powerful countries, who give out their hoarded supplies at their own pace, not necessarily in tandem with realities.

“The need for self-reliance today in the global south is as important as positive neutralism was in the era of the Cold War. The impact of the pandemic on our populations has been severe. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and be resolved to ensure that we are better prepared for future pandemics,” Akufo-Addo said.

He continued, “We must not miss the opportunity of this occasion to take far-reaching decisions for a more equitable and balanced world, based on the principle of the equality of sovereign States. We should continue to work towards the global objectives of peace, development and inter-dependence.”

While stressing the importance of protecting the interests of the developing world, Akufo-Addo further reminded “there will be challenges but working hand-in-hand, we can move ahead together, through co-operation and solidarity, and to achieve the restructuring of the global financial system to facilitate the rapid development of our economies. The next sixty (60) years of the movement must mark its empowerment to meet the wishes and aspirations for development, dignity and diversity.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged wealthy nations to allocate half of the funds they provide to developing nations to tackle climate change to the job of helping those countries to adapt and survive in a warming world.

“Fifty percent of all climate finance provided by developed countries and multilateral development banks should be dedicated to adaptation, to resilience,” Guterres said in a video message at the opening of a two-day meeting.

Wealthy nations are under increasing pressure to deliver on an unmet pledge, made in 2009, to send $100 billion a year to help finance an adequate response by developing countries to rising global temperatures as the world prepares for COP26.

Of the finance channelled by wealthy countries to help poorer nations manage climate change, adaptation has normally accounted for only about 20%, averaging about $30 billion per year in 2017-18. Most of the rest has been spent on reducing climate-heating emissions, such as by adopting renewable energy.

Guterres warned rich economies to ramp up efforts to help developing countries in a struggle against “biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change” and further called on the Group of 20 rich nations to do more to help vaccinate the planet against the new coronavirus.

The observer status in the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) that Russia gained opens up new opportunities for interaction in ensuring global security and sustainable development, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his message to participants of the NAM’s jubilee meeting posted on the Kremlin’s website.

The Non-Alignment Movement plays quite a significant role as an international organization on the global scene, the Russian leader stressed.

“It [the Non-Alignment Movement] consistently safeguards the principles of the unconditional equality of all the states, the respect for their sovereignty and legitimate interests and favors a constructive multilateral dialogue in strict compliance with the letter and spirit of the UN Charter,” Putin pointed out.

The Non-Alignment Movements positive potential is specially needed now that “the situation in the world is becoming increasingly turbulent and mankind is confronted with a growing number of threats and challenges,” the message reads.

“Importantly, this reputable and representative structure is actively engaged in settling crises and makes a considerable contribution to the collective efforts of building a more democratic and stable world order, and strengthening trust and mutual understanding between members of the international community,” the Russian leader said.

“Our country has recently gained observer status in the Non-Alignment Movement. This certainly opens up new opportunities for interaction in solving essential regional and global issues and ensuring security and sustainable development throughout the world,” Putin stressed.

Although many of the Non-Aligned Movement’s members were actually quite closely aligned with China or the Soviet Union, the movement still persisted throughout the Cold War, even despite several conflicts between members which also threatened the movement.

In the years since the Cold War’s end in 1991, it has focused on developing multilateral ties and connection as well as unity among the developing nations of the world, especially those within the Global South.

The Non-Alignment Movement is an international organization of member states that oppose participation in military-political blocs and favor the peaceful co-existence of peoples. Its 60th anniversary brought together mother than 100 countries, with 43 delegations led by foreign ministers. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.

Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was one of the five historic founding fathers of the Movement. India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Ahmed Sukarno, Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser and former Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito launched the Movement in Belgrade in 1961.

Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.