EDITORIAL: Non-Aligned Movement outdated
Last week, the now impotent Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held a meeting in Iran.
It is doubtful whether the movement has any influence in international diplomacy after it reached its heyday during the early 1970s and 1980s.
Formed during the early days of the Cold War, the movement provided an alternative to the Soviet Union and the United States which competed for global dominance. Its relevance as a viable organization in today’s world is now becoming questionable as ideology has become blurred as a political ideal.
From its beginning, however, the movement was never completely detached, with the majority of its members still ascribing to either American or anti-imperialist ideals espoused by the Soviet Union. This paradox does not exist today, and neither do the reasons for its creation.
At its inception, the core objectives of the NAM were human rights, freedom and democracy: principles that its member states called for on the international level but often did not observe at the national level.
With a present membership of 120, the NAM meetings have always been used by host nations as an opportunity to push their own agendas. Last week’s summit, which United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended, was no exception as it was seen as little more than a public relations exercise for Iran.
Nonetheless, the hypocrisies of non-alignment continue until today. While the Syrian crisis was high on Iran’s agenda for discussions, the issue was whether Iran could be neutral when it had backed Syria, after 17 months of violence has brought the country to its knees.
It is well known that Iran provides support to the Syrian Bashar Assad regime and has supported Damascus with arms and money. It has also vowed to stand by the regime at all cost. Any claim of impartiality is therefore staggering.
Iran unashamedly introduced an initiative allegedly at the meeting aimed at ending the conflict in Syria. It was seen as an insult to everyone’s intelligence and the Syrian opposition dismissed the NAM talks as a sham, primarily because of Iran’s attendance.
No doubt, Iran saw its tenure as the NAM chair, and the conference in Tehran, as an opportunity to garner an international platform for its views about the nuclear crisis, and the sanctions it has to endure over its nuclear programme.
Iran has sought to use this conference with the high level attendance of dignitaries as a way to denounce economic and financial sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and Western nations and to try to create new economic alliances.
There is no doubt that the NAM emerged from last week’s conference with little clout left, and an urgent reassessment of its role and name is necessary.