Critics point out that meetings of the non-aligned are nothing more than an opportunity for Officials and Ministers and their entourage to travel arid purchase duty free good in the various State capital.
This is, however, a gross exaggeration. In this connection it should be well remembered that summits bring together the heads of States or Governments of the non-aligned and provide an opportunity to discuss the present state of international politics.
These summits enable those countries to develop a common strategy on a number of issues which can be utilised later in the many world organisations involving all the major powers in the world.
Non-alignment has today emerged as a movement and a factor in world relations. It now addresses itself to vital issues such as economic and developmental, science and technology and the new information order.
It helped in the solution of the Korean and Congo disputes. It can also claim credit for the nuclear test ban treaty in 1960’s which helped in bringing about the strategic arms limitation agreements between the super-powers.
The Harare summit faced the most formidable crisis in the sense that a certain members among themselves attacked each-other. The issue of Afghanistan and Kampuchea that threatened the Delhi Summit in March, 1983 has gone into the background.
The unity of the NAM was endangered by the charges of Libyan leader, Col. Maummar Gadafi and the Iranian President Syed Alikhameni. They charged the movement with showing disregard for the fundamental principles of the movement and an indifference to world problems.
Ali Khomeni said that although NAM was not expected to behave like a military bloc, it should “honestly and courageously defend the expressed and fight for the victims of aggression and domination.
He demanded the expulsion of Iraq from the NAM. He said, “The Iraqi regime, as the beginner of the war, carries the responsibility for its continuation.”
Commenting on that he called, “futile initiatives” to end six the year old conflict, the Iranian President said the Security Council had “finally made a very vague reference to the crimes of starting the aggression in a most unfair resolution.”
He said that Iran is ready to sign a peace agreement with Iran “here and now” on the conditions that Saddam Husain of Iraq must go, Iraq must be termed as aggressor, and Iraq must pay compensation to Iraq. The NAM resolution has however, requested both the nations not to shed more blood.
Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi paired scorn on the NAM for full one hour and then left a shocked summit saying, “Farewell to this funny movement of international force.” He described the U.S. President Ronald Reagan a petty actor and Egypt as his spray while the members of the Commonwealth as “British puppets.”
Referring to the U.S. bombing of Tripoli, Gaddafi pointedly asked the delegates, “Where were you when my house was bombed? It was Allah who came to my rescue, not anyone of you. What for is this movement?” He described Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Zaire and Cameroon as U.S. spies.
He described the movement a big force. He pointed: “You come here to exchange courtesies and smile and disappear, leaving an impression of nothing but a conspiracy against freedom movements.” He ridiculed the NAM effects for world peace and disarmament. “How have we arragated this right to ourselves when we cannot defend ourselves ?” he asked.
He believes that the world is divided into imperialist and anti- imperialist camps- He bracketed Israel and South Africa by saying, “That U.S.A’s one dirty leg is South Africa and the other is Israel.” He wanted the creation of a front, including wars and bloc countries, to fight the imperialist aggressors.
The Chairman of the summit, Mugalie, however, snubbed him and handled the situation in a competnt and articulate manner.
Since the Belgrade Summit of 1961, the movement has held eight summits and a number of other meetings at the le\el of ministers and officials. With the creation of the co-ordination Bureau at the Algiers Summit in 1973, a number of meetings of this body have also been held at the ministerial level.
Further more, especially after 1973, the non aligned countries have been in quasi-permanent session at the level of their representations to the U.N. in New York. The membership of the movement has increased from 25 countries in 1961 to 101 countries which attended the last session in New Delhi in 1983.
Besides, any concept that cannot stand the stresses and strains, and the pulls and pressures of a fast-changing, developing and dynamic society, is bound to fail sooner or later. The concept must have some basic principles if it is to survive.
These principles are declared at the summits after making a historic assessment of international relations at a particular time. All decisions are taken by consensus. Indeed by this yard-stick, non-alignment has shown a remarkable capacity to develop and survive inspite of many challenges.
There are others who argue that non-alignment has lost its validity because it was involved at a time when the world was divided into two hostile military, political and ideological blocs. With the signing of detente, there is no need of non-alignment.
Moreover, with the break up of the monolithic Communist world into two or more blocs and the emergence of economic, political and military power such as EEC, COMECON, Japan, China and the OPEC, the importance of non- alignment especially for the developing countries has decreased and its role weakened.
This is not a correct assessment. Rather, the relevance and utility of non-alignment has increased. Firstly, the growth of new centers of power instead of decreasing has increased the threat to political and economic independence of the non-aligned countries almost all of which are still developing countries.
Under threat of still unpredictable strategy of these new centers of power, it is very important that the non-aligned countries should evolve a joint strategy to safeguard their sovereignty and independence.
Secondly, in spite of detente between the USA and the Soviet Union, USA and China, the ideological rivalries between the socialist and the capitalist countries have still become more manifest.
We food a big tussle between the big powers in areas such as South Asia, South East Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Gulf countries and Arab-Israel conflict, in South West Africa as well as in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Detente between the USA and China, and Japan and China have only encouraged the present Chinese leadership in launching their expansionist designs in South Asia.
Their unsuccessful attempt to browbeat United Vietnam led them to encourage Pol Pot’s Kampuchea to violate the South Vietnamese borders and thus divide the Indo-China States and dominate them. China is now trying to topple the independent non-aligned State of Laos by setting up a puppet Laotian Government in exile in China.
China is frightening both Laos and Vietnam by the concentration of regular Chinese troops along their borders. She led an attack against Vietnam in order to teach her a lesson for helping the installation of Heng Samorin Government in Kampuchea.
Afghanistan presents the latest development which Soviet Union is alleged to have occupied by military force. However, the Soviet Union pleads that she was requested by the successive Governments of Afghanistan for help in establishing normalcy.
Soviet Union alleges and Badshah Khan has confirmed that delay on the part of Soviet Union only by three days would have meant United States-Pakistan intervention in Afghanistan.
It is by all standards the most remarkable achievement of the NAM to take up the cause of the Blacks against the Botha regime of S. Africa which is following a policy of apartheid and committing atrocities on the agitators.
Unless we achieve the goal of one world in which all nations and individuals within nations, can talk and work together as equals, while retaining their independence and individuality, non-alignment is the only valid and viable policy the developing countries can afford to adopt in their own enlightened self-interest and in the longer interest of peace and freedom.
However, the non-aligned countries should come to one another’s help morally, politically and materially to obviate the threat of aggression on any one of them. Unless they unite, the developed countries will exploit their differences, divide them and weaken their solidarity.
China grabbed 25,000 square kilometers of Indian territory but the non-aligned countries did not take a united stand towards Chinese aggression though some of them made half-hearted attempts to find a solution. On the Afghanistan issue also the non- aligned countries are not of one opinion.