Has the Non Alignment Movement ( NAM ) lost its relevance in multipolar world?

The Non Alignment Movement ( NAM ) is a group of states which are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries. The contemporary movement was launched in Belgrade in 1961, with the conception of the Conference for the Independence of Non-aligned Countries by Yugoslavia ‘s president, Josip Broz Tito . It took off due to the fear of the participants concerning the growth of imperialism .


As J.L Nehru was founding members, the principles of NAM was largely guided by Panchsheel principles, some of them are:

  • Respect for the principles enshrined in the charter of the United Nations and international law.
  • Respect for sovereignty, sovereign equality and territorial integrity of all States.
  • Peaceful settlement of all international conflicts in accordance with the charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the political, economic, social and cultural diversity of countries and peoples.
  • Defence and promotion of shared interests, justice and cooperation, regardless of the differences existing in the political, economic and social systems of the States, on the basis of mutual respect and the equality of rights.
  • Respect for the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of States. No State or group of States has the right to intervene either directly or indirectly, whatever the motive, in the internal affairs of any other State.
  • Promotion and defence of multilateralism and multilateral organisations as the appropriate frameworks to resolve, through dialogue and cooperation, the problems affecting humankind.


  • NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
  • It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
  • At present, an additional goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.

NAM in Cold War Era

  • Against Apartheid: The evil of apartheid was massively prevalent in African countries like South Africa, its was on the agenda of NAM right from first conference. During 2nd Non Alignment Movement conference at Cairo the government of South Africa was warned against the discriminatory practices of apartheid.
  • Disarmament: The Non-aligned Movement repeatedly comes out for maintenance of peace,’the cessation of arms race and the peaceful coexistence of all States. In the General Assembly, India submitted a draft resolution declaring that the use of nuclear weapons would be against the charter of the United Nations and crime against humanity and should therefore be prohibited.
  • UNSC reforms: Right from its inception NAM was in the favour of UNSC reforms, it was against the domination of US and USSR. It wanted the representation of third world countries to make UNSC more democratic. Members echoed with same demand at 17th NAM conference at Venezuela.
  • Failed to resolve regional tensions: In the era of cold war the tension in South Asia escalated due to regional conflict between India- China and India-Pakistan. NAM failed to avoid tensions in the region, that further led to the the nuclearisation of the region.

India’s Position

  • India being a founder and largest member in NAM was an active participant in NAM meetings till 1970s but India’s inclination towards erstwhile USSR created confusions in smaller members. It led to the weakening of NAM and small nations drifted towards either US or USSR.
  • Further disintegration of USSR led the unipolar world order dominated by US. India’s New Economic Policy and inclination towards US raised questions over India’s seriousness over non alignment.
  • Prime Minister of India skipped the 17th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held in Venezuela in 2016, it was only second such instance when Head of a state didn’t participate in NAM conference.
  • Moreover, NAM continued losing relevance for India in a unipolar world, especially after the founding members failed to support India during crisis. For instance, during 1962 War with China, Ghana and Indonesia, adopted explicitly pro-China positions. During 1965 and 1971 wars, Indonesia and Egypt took an anti India stance and supported Pakistan.
  • India in particular, but also most other NAM countries, have integrated themselves to varying degrees within the liberal economic order and have benefited from it.
  • India is a member of the G20 and has declared itself as a nuclear weapons power and has for all practical purposes abandoned the call for global nuclear disarmament.
  • India has also engaged itself with new and old global powers. India joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a coalition seen by many as a counterforce to China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific and Shanghai cooperation organisation led by China shown India’s balancing approach in new world order.
  • India is striving hard for a multipolar world order and asserting itself as one of the player. Multi polar world order is very much closed to NAM principles.

Emerging Global Order

NAM has to adopt and change itself to suit the newly emerging challenges and geopolitics such as:

  • World has again moved towards bi-polarity, one led by US and other by China-Russia. The war torn syria is prime example of this, where both US and Russia is asserting power.
  • The escalating tension in Indo-pacific region due to China’s assertion and US acting as a counterweight to check the Chinese expansionist policy.
  • The large scale migration in Europe and Asia due to the unstable regimes and ethnic conflict in different parts of world.
  • Issue of global climate change and occurence of catastrophic disasters raising demand to form global consensus to deal with it.
  • Changing US policies, protectionism, prevalent terrorism and nuclearisation of middle east.
  • Formation of multiple regional economic groupings like TPP and RCEP and fading away of multilateral bodies WTO from global arena.

Non-alignment movement is one of the major international strategy created and embraced during the virus war period by recently autonomous nations who would not like to join any of the current coalitions. NAM was begun by 25 nations(newly autonomous) at Belgrade gathering. India was among the establishing individual from NAM. It was embraced by Asian, African, and Latin American nations. NAM turned into a defender to escape from race of militarization advanced by two politically influential nation around then for example USSR and USA for the recently free nations.

Pundits have called NAM immaterial today as the world has changed from bi-polar to multipolar. World is seeing the ascent of new world forces like China, India along these lines is moving towards multi-lateralism. The vast majority of the countries today have solid financial and protection attaches with one or the other USA or China. Rise of new provincial groupings like G20, BRICS which have plainly set down extension and objective of commitment and result dominate NAM which doesn’t have any of these. NAM was shaped more out of political impulses and companionship of pioneers as opposed to for a substantial reason. Individuals from the Non Alignment Movement have distinctive political, social and monetary design which thwarts any durable activity each with their own arrangement of interests. The greater part of the NAM nations are confronting homegrown political, social and monetary emergency.. For India NAM’s needs utility for ensuring and advancing India’s security and interests.

NAM despite weaknesses holds the possibility to arise as amazing voice on the global stage. Quest for fairness in world undertakings through pooling the discretionary assets of Third World states in global discussions can be utilized to make them applicable in UN, where UNSC perpetual individuals changes to reflect current world request stays a far off dream. NAM can make of another world dependent on levelheaded, vote based, impartial and non-manipulative between states connection. The Non-Alignment nations need to figure out how to move among them and to effectively confront the threat of new imperialism that is tried to be forced through different WTO round.

The majority of the NAM nations are creating or immature consequently coordinated effort to end misuse, war, appetite, destitution and sickness on the earth can resuscitate and make NAM more applicable. The main part for Non Alignment Movement today lies in outlining a substantial monetary plan for an equitable and reasonable worldwide financial request. The WTO rules and strategies have neglected to give satisfactory financial increases to the Third World. NNon Alignment Movements range could be additionally broadened by including ecological issues like ozone harming substance emanations, wellbeing concerns particularly AIDS, drug dealing, rising cases of neediness, food emergency and joblessness for the most part inside the NAM individuals and LDC nations, the rising computerized split between the rich and poor and battle against all shades of radicalism, xenophobia, ethnic patriotism and territorial conflicts

Real geopolitik is showcasing the rise of Right-Wing politics and consequent protectionism. Some examples include the Brexit event, election of USA President Donald Trump on grounds of protectionism, and so on. These events, if left unchecked, have the potential to turn back time and bring the era of closed market economies. And with the removal of market interdependencies, strategic differences among nations may grow, and bring back the need for the NAM.

Barring these direct influences, the NAM holds indirect relevance as well. The very idea of collaboration of like-minded countries for a peaceful and stable world, can be emulated to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. For instance, ICAN (the NGO that won the Nobel Peace Prize, 2017) can be institutionalised as an intergovernmental forum, in the lines of the NAM. This will put additional pressure on the nuclear weapon states, just like NAM did on the power blocs, to destroy their nuclear arsenal. Additional benefits can also be achieved in exposing and disbanding the nuclear proliferation network, chemical weapons stockpiles (to prevent attacks like recent Sarin gas attack in Syria), and so on.

In essence, Non Alignment is an idea, a concept of drawing a middle path between two extremes, to lead to peace and tranquility. The erstwhile movement may hold relevance, or lose it altogether, but this idea will remain absolute.

As the superpowers are realising the strength and resource-rich environment of the developing world, it is becoming clearer each day that the world is correlated, economies are co-dependent and every significant decision by any country has a ripple effect on the global logistics. So Non Alignment Movement a non-aligned system can play a big role in controlling and changing the present international environment. Moreover, Non Alignment Movement is providing India with an untapped advantage to emerge as a world leader, especially in the south-east Asia.

With the passage of time, NAM emerged as a political personality of its own. Moreover, it survived the cold war and out-living it. India should play a major role in reformulating the working of NAM so that it can also act as an instrument of change giving voice to the least developed states and the transitioning economies.

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