Non-Alignment Movement


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in a virtual Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to discuss ways to jointly fight the spread of novel coronavirus.


  • The NAM was founded during the collapse of the colonial system and rise of the independence struggles across the world and at the height of the Cold War.
  • Following the end of World War II and the emergence of two military blocks (NATO and the Warsaw Pact), the underdeveloped countries felt the need to join efforts for the common defense of their interests.
  • Thus, the Bandung Asian-African Conference was organised in Indonesia in 1955. The principles that would govern relations among the nations, known as the "Ten Principles of Bandung", were proclaimed at that Conference.
  • Based on these principles, the NAM was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. It was created by Yugoslavia's President, Josip Broz Tito, India's Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt's President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia's President, Sukarno.


  1. Respect of fundamental human rights and of the objectives and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  2. Respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  3. Recognition of the equality among all races and of the equality among all nations.
  4. Non-intervention or non-interference into the internal affairs of another country.
  5. Promotion of mutual interests and of cooperation.
  6. Respect of justice and of international obligations.
  7. Respect of the right of every nation to defend itself, either individually or collectively.
  8. Non-use of collective defense pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
  9. Refraining from carrying out or threatening to carry out aggression against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  10. Peaceful solution of all international conflicts.


  • Supported Independence struggles: The Movement played an important role in the support of nations which were struggling then for their independence. Its call to end colonialism and dismantle the imperialism led people of colonized countries demand for right of self-determination and end of all kinds of neo-colonialism.
  • Voiced against inequalities: NAM countries made bold calls to end all forms of racial discrimination and apartheid. The NAM anti-colonialism principle meant it gave full support to the armed struggles against settler Rhodesia, as well as apartheid Namibia and South Africa.
  • Advocated for a new global order: In the 1970s, the bloc increasingly attacked a world economy it perceived as fundamentally stacked against poor. It pushed for  New International Economic Order  (NIEO). It was meant to be a revision of the international economic system in favour of Third World countries, replacing the Bretton Woods system. In the nuclear field, NAM criticized the discriminatory nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • Mediated conflicts: It played significant role in prevention of some regional conflicts and also played the role of a mediator during the cold war era. For eg: At the height of the Berlin crisis, the NAM dispatched emergency missions to Washington and Moscow.
  • Supported UN: The movement has always highlighted its support to the UN. On the basis of their numerical strength, the non-aligned countries exercised a considerable influence on the decisions of the General Assembly. These countries, especially India, have supported UN in all of its peace-keeping efforts across the world.


  • Global disarmament: While the movement pursued global disarmament, it has had limited success. Development of nuclear weapons by its members such as India itself highlight the NAM’s failure in this regard.
  • Failed to avert conflicts: NAM countries suffered and faced several local and regional wars and undue influence from super powers. NAM failed to avert many armed conflicts, such as the Indo-Pak wars, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  • No organisational structure: The Founders of NAM preferred to declare it as a movement and not an organization, so as to avoid bureaucratic implications of the latter. Hence, it never became an organisation in the sense of the African Union or the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Contradiction of principles: They had the contradiction of respect for human rights versus abstention from intervention in other countries’ internal affairs. This meant that there could not even be resolutions condemning human rights violations in any NAM country.
  • Failed to reform the global order: From its inception, NAM has been working for a revision of the international system in favour of Third World countries through measures such as UNSC reforms and NIEO. However, it failed to attain these objectives.


  • India and Jawaharlal Nehru were key to the formation of NAM. Being a founder and largest member in NAM, India was an active participant in NAM meetings till 1970s.
  • However, India’s inclination towards erstwhile USSR during the Indira Gandhi era created confusions among the NAM members.
  • Eventually, the disintegration of USSR, India’s New Economic Policy of 1991, Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 and its growing inclination towards US raised questions of India’s seriousness over non alignment.
  • NAM did not feature in Modi government’s foreign policy since he first came to power in 2014, with the PM refusing to attend the last two summits- in 2016 and 2019.
  • However, the coronavirus pandemic has underlined the woeful limitations of the existing international order. Once the world has conquered the pandemic, there will be a tectonic shift in the global balance of power.
  • It is this realisation that has made the NDA government retrace its relation with the NAM, with the Prime Minister addressing the NAM’s virtual summit.



  • Cold war 2.0: A new episode of cold war between USA and Russia-China is brewing up. The involvement of US and Russia in the Syrian war and competition between USA and China over information technology are examples of this.
  • Neo colonialism: China, with its aggressive debt trap diplomacy and predatory capitalism of African states, is viewed as the new face of colonialism. In this regard, NAM can play as a vital forum for the African nations to express their concerns and seek global support.
  • Disarmament: With countries such as North Korea and Iran, the threat of nuclear war can never be written off. Also, with the expiration of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, US and Russia have restarted their arms race. Here, NAM can play the role of a mediator and push for disarmament.  
  • Pending reforms: Reforms in the global order remains an unfinished objective of the NAM. Along with the G-77, NAM gives a superior numerical strength to developing countries, which can help bring forth major reforms in forums such as the UN and IMF.
  • New challenges: New challenges such as sustainable development, terrorism, climate change issues and refugee crisis need stronger efforts to resolve. NAM is a major stakeholder in this regard, as it is composed of countries that stand to get affected the worst due to unsustainable development.  
  • Uphold human rights: In an environment of gross human right violation, such as in Palestine and Myanmar, the NAM can provide a platform to raise such issues and resolve the same through its principles.


  • Ideologies have changed: The causes for formation of NAM, such as independence, colonialism and bipolarism have become irrelevant since the disintegration of USSR.
  • Lack of leadership: Unlike the other power blocs, NAM stands leaderless. Major powers, such as India and Indonesia, have been keeping distance from the movement.
  • Divergent national policies:  Among individual members, these have been shifts of emphasis on and implementation of non-alignment. For eg: India has been pushing for increased cooperation with the US.
  • Stronger groups have emerged: Forums such as BRICS, SCO and G20, with stronger resolution and better organisational structure, are in a better position to influence the geopolitical arena.


  • The termination of cold war doesn’t mean that an end of world power hegemony. The NAM is too relevant in present context because the third world countries are being subjected to supremacy and exploitation on all kind of issues from economic to political and cultural.
  • The world will need a new template post the COVID-19 phase. Here, the global south should have a major say. Hence, it is high time for NAM countries to sort-out longstanding regional and international problems by international consensus. India should play a positive role to strengthening the NAM as a global movement.


Q.  Critically examine the significance of Non alignment movement in the post COVID era?