Current activities and positions

Criticism of US policy

In recent years the US has become a target of the organization. The US invasion of Iraq and the War on Terrorism, its attempts tostifle Iran and North Korea’s nuclear plans, and its other actions have been denounced as human rights violations and attempts to run roughshod over the sovereignty of smaller nations. The movement’s leaders have also criticized the American control over the United Nations and other international structures. While the organization has rejected terrorism, it condemns the association of terrorism with a particular religion, nationality, or ethnicity, and recognizes the rights of those struggling against colonialism and foreign occupation.

Anti-Zionism

NAM’s Havana Declaration of 1979adopted anti-Zionism as part of the movement’s agenda. The movement has denounced Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has called upon Israel to halt its settlement activities, open up border crossings, and cease the use of force and violence against civilians. The UN has also been asked to pressure Israel and to do more to prevent human rights abuses.

Sustainable development

The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state. Issues such as globalization, the debt burden, unfair trade practices, the decline in foreign aid, donor conditionalities, and the lack of democracy in international financial decision-making are cited as factors inhibiting development.

Reforms of the UN

The Non-Aligned Movement has been quite outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, mostly in how the organization has been utilized by powerful states in ways that violate the movement’s principles. It has made a number of recommendations that would strengthen the representation and power of ‘non-aligned’ states. The proposed reforms are also aimed at improving the transparency and democracy of UN decision-making. The UN Security Council is the element considered the most distorted, undemocratic, and in need of reshaping.

South-south cooperation

Lately the Non-Aligned Movement has collaborated with other organizations of the developing world, primarily the Group of 77, forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and document representing the shared interests of both groups. This dialogue and cooperation can be taken as an effort to increase the global awareness about the organization and bolster its political clout.

Cultural diversity and human rights

The movement accepts the universality of human rights and social justice, but fiercely resists cultural homogenization. In line with its views on sovereignty, the organization appeals for the protection of cultural diversity, and the tolerance of the religious, socio-cultural, and historical particularities that define human rights in a specific region.

Working groups, task forces, committees

  • High-Level Working Group for the Restructuring of the United Nations
  • Working Group on Human Rights
  • Working Group on Peace-Keeping Operations
  • Working Group on Disarmament
  • Committee on Palestine
  • Task Force on Somalia
  • Non-Aligned Security Caucus
  • Standing Ministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation
  • Joint Coordinating Committee (chaired by Chairman of G-77 and Chairman of NAM)

 Contemporary relevance

Since the end of the Cold War and the formal end of colonialism, the Non-aligned movement has been forced to redefine itself and reinvent its purpose in the current world system. A major question has been whether many of its foundational ideologies, principally national independence, territorial integrity, and the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, can be applied to contemporary issues. The movement has emphasized its principles of multilateralism, equality, and mutual non-aggression in attempting to become a stronger voice for the global South, and an instrument that can be utilized to promote the needs of member nations at the international level and strengthen their political leverage when negotiating with developed nations. In its efforts to advance Southern interests, the movement has stressed the importance of cooperation and unity amongst member states, but as in the past, cohesion remains a problem since the size of the organization and the divergence of agendas and allegiances present the ongoing potential for fragmentation. While agreement on basic principles has been smooth, taking definitive action vis-à-vis particular international issues has been rare, with the movement preferring to assert its criticism or support rather than pass hard-line resolutions. The movement continues to see a role for itself, as in its view, the world’s poorest nations remain exploited and marginalized, no longer by opposing superpowers, but rather in a uni-polar world, and it is Western hegemony and neo-colonialism that that the movement has really re-aligned itself against. It opposes foreign occupation, interference in internal affairs, and aggressive unilateral measures, but it has also shifted to focus on the socio-economic challenges facing member states, especially the inequalities manifested by globalization and the implications of neo-liberal policies. The non-aligned movement has identified economic underdevelopment, poverty, and social injustices as growing threats to peace and security.