The Other NAM Is the One to Watch

For many people in the US say “NAM” and they automatically think Vietnam, the war the US lost through heroic battles by the Vietnamese people and a long, hard fight at home. But today, the Non-Aligned Countries Movement, the other “NAM”, may be the one to watch.

One thousand reporters from all over the world are in Havana, Cuba this week mingling with top representatives (including 50 heads of State) from the 116 member States there for the 14th Summit and of course, hoping to get a glimpse of the recuperating Fidel Castro, who may or may not appear.

The Non-Aligned Movement is the largest bloc of countries outside the United Nations’ 190 members, and this gives them a powerful potential to change the world order, which is what the draft resolution of this Summit says they intend to do.

Forty-five years after the NAM founding and Cuba’s first chairmanship in Belgrade in 1961, Cuba is once again taking the helm as chair this year. Cuba has advanced, both through its foreign ministry and the draft resolution to be discussed by the foreign ministers September 11-15 and signed Saturday, the 16th, by heads of State or their representatives, that it will work to lead the movement into unity, solidarity and vigorous action. The key word here is action.

NAM has represented the interests of developing countries from its inception as a Cold War alternative for the Third World (based on the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia), from early efforts to eliminate colonialism –particularly in South Africa-, through supporting self-determination and liberation struggles in many parts of the world.

Under a free South Africa’s chairmanship, from 1998-2002, NAM sought 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.

While it no longer sees itself, as it did then, as a neutral bloc protecting itself between warring global powers, it does see itself as an alternative to the US-impelled one-sided view of the world.

Working within the United Nations, NAM has long supported the Palestinian cause and been involved in all of the Iraq crises, as well as supporting progressive political issues such as against racism and xenophobia.

This is particularly understandable because African nations have always been important in the Non-Aligned Movement. At present NAM membership includes 53 countries in Africa, 38 in Asia, 24 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one in Europe (Belarus), with two more expected from the Caribbean when Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis join this time.

In its recent Summits, the non-aligned countries have been greatly concerned with the necessary democratic reform of the United Nations and especially, the Security Council.

The draft resolution presented by Cuba promotes “concentrating the Movement’s pronouncements, statements and actions into central issues identified as priorities.” It defines the main priorities as defense of multilateralism, opposition to attempts to impose a single world view, and defense of and respect for international law and the UN Charter.

Based on issues of consensus of the shared values and common interests of the member-countries, the resolution’s action plan proposes concentrating approaches in various forums to condemn force or coercion in violation of international law, and specifically mentions the US blockade of Cuba.

The resolution also calls for defining a strategy to accomplish complete disarmament under “strict and effective international control, placing maximum priority on nuclear disarmament.”

Calling for the “democratization of the current international economic, commercial and financial order” and strengthening South-South cooperation, this Summit’s resolution is expected to revitalize NAM, and galvanize it into action.

It is certainly to be hoped that at least some of the one thousand reporters enjoying a week’s stay in an island paradise will cover the meat of the meeting and not just whether Fidel will give the opening speech or host the closing dinner.

As a majority in the world, and with a dynamic action plan, NAM will certainly be worth watching, reporting, and supporting, because it may indeed effectively accomplish another and better world.

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