The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a Movement of 118 members representing the interests and priorities of developing countries. The Movement has its origin in the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The meeting was convened upon the invitation of the Prime Ministers of Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan and brought together leaders of 29 states, mostly former colonies, from the two continents of Africa and Asia, to discuss common concerns and to develop joint policies in international relations.

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister or India, President Soekarno of Indonesia and President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt led the Conference and later the Movement. At the meeting, Third World leaders shared their similar problems of resisting the pressures of the major powers, maintaining their independence and opposing colonialism and neo-colonialism, especially western domination.

The first Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State or Government, at which 25 countries were represented, was convened at Belgrade in September 1961, largely through the initiative of Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito. At that stage, the biggest concern was that an accelerating arms race might result in war between the Soviet Union and the USA.

Since its inception the Movement attempted to create an independent path in world politics that would not result in Member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers. This resulted in a large part of its history being influenced by the global tension of the Cold War between the two super powers. However, the Cold War was not the sole or only critical issue on the agenda of the Non-Aligned Movement.


There were three basic elements that influenced the approaches of the Movement to international issues the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo­colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers. The Movement also worked towards the restructuring of the international economic order.

Non-Alignment has made self-determination and equality of all peoples, the free development of the individual, the economic and social progress of society and of nations its central preoccupations. By combining the question of peace and development with the emancipation of peoples from all forms of subordination and exploitation, Non- Alignment has become one of the principal promoters of a positive development of international relations on a global scale and a movement whose political stance, concepts and strategy are of worldwide relevance.

The Non-Aligned Movement can also be seen in terms of the Movement of the newly-independent countries from the 1940s to 1960s. They strived for Non-Alignment to make their voice heard on the international stage. The Cold War, the imminent danger of confrontation, the necessity to defeat colonialism in its orthodox or new form, the necessity to erase the global causes of anomaly for even distribution of wealth and technology, but mainly the necessity of consolidating independence for the newly independent countries and of creating a new code of interstate relations strengthened the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Movement in a real sense represents the poor of the world. Over eighty per cent of those countries classified as being the worlds least developed belong to the Non-Aligned Movement. Most of the countries which are seriously affected by the balance of payment deficits, food scarcity and inflation are members of the Movement. Whether one looks at life in terms of the Gross National Product, terms of trade, industrial stagnation, caloric intake, health and service delivery, adult literacy, population growth or life expectancy at birth, the non-aligned countries are among the world’s disadvantaged.


The Jakarta Summit in 1992 was a turning point in Non-Aligned history since it was the first Summit after the end of the Cold War. It allowed the Movement to shift its focus from the rhetoric of the past to concrete work. The emphasis has shifted from the demands from the developed countries to cooperation with the developed countries.

The Non-Aligned Movement does not have a formal constitution or a permanent secretariat. It has a practice of a rotating Chair, under which its Chair is formally rotated to the Head of State or Government of the host country of the Summit. The Foreign Ministry and Permanent Mission in New York of the Chair at the same time assume the responsibility of the administrative management of the Movement. The Co-coordinating Bureau (CoB) at the United Nations in New York forms the focal point for coordination among the NAM Members.

Since the Non-Aligned countries meet regularly at the UN and conduct much of their work there, the Chairs’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York functions as the Chair of the CoB. The Bureau reviews and facilitates the harmonization of the work of the NAM Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees.

Some of the Working Groups, Task Forces and Committees formed by NAM are: 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, and Joint Coordinating Committee (chaired by Chairman of G-77 and Chairman of NAM).


An important mechanism of NAM is the Troika of past, serving and future Chairs. This concept is operationalized at the discretion of the incumbent Chair and can act as a clearinghouse for solutions of problems and issues confronting developing countries on which the Movement must take a position.

The fifteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Heads of State or Government took place at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt in 2009 and the next Summit is scheduled to be held in Tehran in 2012. Apart from Belgrade, where the first and the ninth Summits were held, Summits have been held at Cairo, Lusaka, Algiers, Colombo, Havana, New Delhi, Harare, Jakarta, Cartagena de India’s, Durban and Kuala Lumpur.

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 utilized by powerful states in ways that violate the principles of NAM. It has made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the transparency and democracy of UN decision-making. NAM considers the UN Security Council to be the most distorted and undemocratic of all UN Organs.

Hence, it demands for reshaping and restructuring of the Security Council. NAM accepts the universality of human rights and social justice, but fiercely resists cultural homogenization. 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.


Lately, NAM has collaborated with other organizations of the developing world, primarily the Group of 77, forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and documents 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.