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The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organisation of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. The movement is largely the brainchild of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, former president of Egypt Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito. It was founded in April 1955; as of 2007, it has 118 members. The purpose of the organisation as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics." They represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations's members and comprise 55% of the world population, particularly countries considered to be developing or part of the third world.

Members have, at various times, included: Yugoslaviamarker, Indiamarker, Ghanamarker, Pakistanmarker, Algeriamarker, Libyamarker, Sri Lankamarker, Egyptmarker, Indonesiamarker, Cubamarker, Colombiamarker, Venezuelamarker, post-1994 South Africa, Iranmarker, Malaysiamarker, and, for a time, the People's Republic of Chinamarker. Brazilmarker has never been a formal member of the movement, but shares many of the aims of NAM and frequently sends observers to the Non-Aligned Movement's summits. While the organisation was intended to be as close an alliance as NATOmarker or the Warsaw Pact, it has little cohesion and many of its members were actually quite closely aligned with one or another of the great powers. Additionally, some members were involved in serious conflicts with other members (e.g. India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq). The movement fractured from its own internal contradictions when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. While the Soviet allies supported the invasion, other members (particularly Islamic nations) of the movement did not.

Because the Non-Aligned Movement was formed as an attempt to thwart the Cold War, it has struggled to find relevance since the Cold War ended. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a founding member, its membership was suspended in 1992 at the regular Ministerial Meeting of the Movement, held in New York during the regular yearly session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. At the Summit of the Movement in Jakarta, Indonesia (September 1, 1992 - September 6, 1992) Yugoslavia was suspended or expelled from the Movement The successor states of the SFR Yugoslaviamarker have expressed little interest in membership, though some have observer status. In 2004, Maltamarker and Cyprusmarker ceased to be members and joined the European Union. Belarusmarker remains the sole member of the Movement in Europe. Turkmenistan, Belarus and Dominican Republic are the most recent entrants. The application of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Costa Rica were rejected in 1995 and 1998.

Member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (2007).
Light blue states have observer status.


Independent countries, who chose not to join any of the Cold War blocs, were also known as non aligned nations.

The term "non-alignment" itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Nehru during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In this speech, Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations, which were first put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:

  • Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
  • Mutual non-aggression
  • Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • Peaceful co-existence

A significant milestone in the development of the Non-aligned movement was the 1955 Bandung Conference, a conference of Asian and African states hosted by Indonesianmarker president Sukarno. The attending nations declared their desire not to become involved in the Cold War and adopted a "declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation", which included Nehru's five principles. Six years after Bandung, an initiative of Yugoslavmarker president Tito led to the first official Non-Aligned Movement Summit, which was held in September 1961 in Belgrademarker.

At the Lusaka Conference in September 1970, the member nations added as aims of the movement the peaceful resolution of disputes and the abstention from the big power military alliances and pacts. Another added aim was opposition to stationing of military bases in foreign countries.

The founding fathers of the Non-aligned movement were: Nehru of Indiamarker, Sukarno of Indonesiamarker and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslaviamarker, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egyptmarker and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghanamarker. Their actions were known as 'The Initiative of Five'.

Organisational structure and membership

Requirements of the NAM with the key beliefs of the United Nations. The latest requirements are now that the candidate country has displayed practices in accordance with:

  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations.

Policies and ideology

The South Africa Conference NAM Logo
Secretaries General of the NAM had included such diversified figures as Suharto, an authoritarian anti-communist, and Nelson Mandela, a democratic socialist and famous anti-apartheid activist. Consisting of many governments with vastly different ideologies, the NAM is unified by its commitment in world peace and security. At the seventh summit held in New Delhimarker in March 1983, the movement described itself as the "history's biggest peace movement". The movement places equal emphasis on disarmament. NAM's commitment to peace pre-dates its formal institutionalisation in 1961. The Brioni meeting between heads of governments of Indiamarker, Egyptmarker and Yugoslavia in 1956 recognised that there exists a vital link between struggle for peace and endeavours for disarmament.

The Non-aligned movement believes in policies and practices of cooperation, especially those that are multilateral and provide mutual benefit to all those involved. Many of the members of the NAM are also members of the United Nations and both organisations have a stated policy of peaceful cooperation, yet successes that the NAM has had in multilateral agreements tends to be ignored by the larger, western and developed nation dominated UN. African concerns about apartheid were linked with Arab-Asian concerns about Palestine and success of multilateral cooperation in these areas has been a stamp of moderate success for the NAM. The NAM has played a major role in various ideological conflicts throughout its existence, including extreme opposition to apartheid regimes and support of liberation movements in various locations including Zimbabwemarker and South Africa. The support of these sorts of movements stems from a belief that every state has the right to base policies and practices with national interests in mind and not as a result of relations to a particular power bloc. The Non-aligned movement has become a voice of support for issues facing developing nations and is still contains ideals that are legitimate within this context.

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 emphasised 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 utilised 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 organisation 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 marginalised, 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 globalisation 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.

Current activities and positions

Criticism of US policy

In recent years the US has become a target of the organisation. The US invasion of Iraq and the War on Terrorism, its attempts to stifle Iranmarker and North Koreamarker'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 criticised the American control over the United Nations and other international structures. While the organisation has rejected terrorism, it condemns the association of terrorism with a particular religion, nationality, or ethnicity, and recognises the rights of those struggling against colonialism and foreign occupation.

Self-determination of Puerto Rico

Since 1961, the group have supported the discussion of the case of Puerto Rico's self-determination before the United Nations. A resolution on the matter will be proposed on the XV Summit by the Hostosian National Independence Movement.


NAM's Havana Declaration of 1979 adopted 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 globalisation, 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 organisation has been utilised 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 organisations 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 organisation 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 homogenisation. In line with its views on sovereignty, the organisation 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)


  1. Belgrademarker, September 1-6, 1961
  2. Cairomarker, October 5-10, 1964
  3. Lusakamarker, September 8-10, 1970
  4. Algiersmarker, September 5-9, 1973
  5. Colombomarker, August 16-19, 1976
  6. Havanamarker, September 3-9, 1979
  7. New Delhimarker (originally planned for Baghdadmarker), March 7-12, 1983
  8. Hararemarker, September 1-6, 1986
  9. Belgrademarker, September 4-7, 1989
  10. Jakartamarker, September 1-6, 1992
  11. Cartagena de Indiasmarker, October 18-20, 1995
  12. Durbanmarker, September 2-3, 1998
  13. Kuala Lumpurmarker, February 20-25, 2003
  14. Havanamarker, September 15-16, 2006
  15. Sharm El Sheikhmarker, July 11-16, 2009
  16. Tehranmarker, 2012


Between summits, the Non-Aligned Movement is run by the secretary-general elected at last summit meeting. As a considerable part of the movement's work is undertaken at the United Nations in New York, the chair country's ambassador to the UN is expected to devote time and effort to matters concerning the Non-Aligned Movement. A Co-ordinating Bureau, also based at the UN, is the main instrument for directing the work of the movement's task forces, committees and working groups.

Secretaries-General of the Non-Aligned Movement
Name Country From To
Josip Broz Tito Yugoslaviamarker 1961 1964
Gamal Abdel Nasser United Arab Republic 1964 1970
Kenneth Kaunda 1970 1973
Houari Boumédienne 1973 1976
William Gopallawa 1976 1978
Junius Richard Jayawardene 1978 1979
Fidel Castro 1979 1983
N. Sanjiva Reddy 1983
Zail Singh 1983 1986
Robert Mugabe 1986 1989
Janez Drnovšek Yugoslaviamarker 1989 1990
Borisav Jović 1990 1991
Stjepan Mesić 1991
Branko Kostić 1991 1992
Dobrica Ćosić 1992
Suharto 1992 1995
Ernesto Samper Pizano 1995 1998
Andrés Pastrana Arango 1998
Nelson Mandela 1998 1999
Thabo Mbeki 1999 2003
Mahathir bin Mohammad 2003
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 2003 2006
Fidel Castro 2006 2008
Raúl Castro 2008 2009
Hosni Mubarak 14 July 2009 present

Member states and representatives


The following nations have observer status:


There is no permanent guest status, but often several non-member countries are represented as guests at conferences. In addition, a large number of organisations, both from within the UN system and from outside, are always invited as guests.

See also

Further reading

  • Hans Köchler (ed.), The Principles of Non-Alignment. The Non-aligned Countries in the Eighties—Results and Perspectives. London: Third World Centre, 1982. ISBN 0-86199-015-3 ( Google Print)


  1. Fidel Castro speech to the UN in his position as chairman of the non-aligned countries movement 12 October 1979; Pakistan & Non-Aligned Movement, Board of Investment - Government of Pakistan, 2003
  2. Grant, Cedric. "Equity in Third World Relations: a third world perspective." International Affairs 71, 3 (1995), 567-587.
  4. Morphet, Sally. “Multilateralism and the Non-Aligned Movement: What Is the Global South Doing and Where Is It Going?” Global Governance 10 (2004), 517–537
  5. BBC Profile, BBC News, January 30, 2008.
  6. See no.10-11 in Durban Summit 'Final Document.'
  7. See no.16-22 in Durban Summit 'Final Document.'
  8. "Non-aligned nations slam U.S.," CBC News, September 16, 2006.
  9. See "Putting Differences Aside," Daria Acosta, September 18, 2006.
  10. [1]
  11. See "Statement on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  12. See "Statement on the implementation of the Right to Development," January 7, 2008.
  13. See no.55 in Durban Summit 'Final Document.'
  14. See "Declaration on the occasion of celebrating Human Rights Day."
  15. NAM background information.
  16. NAM Background Information
  17. Fidel Castro, having recently undergone gastric surgery, was unable to attend the conference and was represented by his younger brother, Cuba's acting president Raúl Castro. See "Castro elected President of Non-Aligned Movement Nations", People's Daily, 16-09-2006.
  18. Member and Observer Countries, Non-Aligned Movement
  19. NAM Background Information

External links

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