Opinion

The non-aligned engagement

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is conducting its 16th Ministerial Conference and Commemorative Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, from May 23 to 27. The event serves as a significant forum in the history of NAM, which was established 50 years ago.

Created with only 25 member states in 1961, now the movement has grown and will welcome Fiji and Azerbaijan as candidate members. In the forum, 118 member states, 18 observer states, 10 observer organizations and at least 30 invited countries will attend.

After the Cold War ended, questions were always raised about the movement’s relevancy in responding to contemporary global issues. On its 50th anniversary, the questions as to NAM’s relevancy should be replaced by questions about how to generate a sense of optimism for NAM’s real contributions to global problems in the long term, at least for another 50 years.

At the Bali meeting, members will discuss the final document from the 15th NAM Meeting, held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from July 11 to 16, 2009. The document notes issues that deserve attention from NAM members.

Some of those issues are the problems of the global economy and monetary issues, the need to uphold the commitment to the United Nations (UN) charter and international law and the need to increase cooperation between developed and developing countries in an era of crisis that has been hindering economic and social development. In all, NAM is trying to pursue the interests of its members, particularly in an era of global governance crises.

The redefined goals of NAM in the document meet the relevancy of the changing contemporary world. However, the dynamics of global problems are part of an ongoing process of globalization. NAM should continuously refresh its goals to remain relevant in confronting global problems.

Yet, doubts are lingering. Domestic upheavals in member states are prevalent, not only those evidenced recently in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain. Other members are also suffering from internal political problems, including good governance problems. The internal problems, to some extent, have unavoidably influenced regional and international stability instead of creating a conducive environment for international peace.

Thus, how can we expect the movement to function as a whole in order to resolve transnational governance problems? It is also doubtful how member states can transform that spirit or the ability to deal with good governance.

NAM’s potential contribution to global problems is highly expected. Its solidarity built among members serves as more than a great asset for the movement in becoming a partner with other groups of nations such as developed countries.

NAM’s membership has reached more than half of the UN’s membership. Hence, NAM member voices, both as members of the UN or as a movement, can be influential in serving member interests in creating international peace.

The Bandung principles delivered at the Asia Africa Conference in 1955 have proved significant for this movement. Also, the interpretation of NAM’s goals and its capacities have been relevant for the contemporary world.

However, to be continuously relevant in the longer term, it is not the movement per se that needs to be redefined with the changing international environment. Instead, members also need to reconsider their engagements with the movement.

NAM needs members that can maximize the movement as a means to achieve the ends of peace creation. The engagement of member states should not be limited as only reserved engagement. Using numerous potential tracks for cooperation, members should have benefited more from this movement.

In this Bali meeting, the clear track to achieve the movement’s goals in any development and anti-colonial initiatives need to be highlighted.

Member states do not need to be worried about major power interventions in the movement. Unlike any other “club”, NAM does not offer perceived risks and dangers from major powers’ involvement, as those powers were not included in this engagement since its inception.

NAM urgently needs to increase its potential problem-solving capability to accommodate global problems both through formal and informal arrangements. As one of the movement’s founders, Indonesia can play a potential role in this case, as well as the engine for solidarity and optimism in the movement’s future.

After all, the movement is another good chance to implement Indonesia’s independent and active foreign policy in the longer term, at least for another 50 years.

The writer is a lecturer in the department of international relations at Paramadina University in Jakarta. She is also a Fulbright-DIKTI Ph.D. student in the department of political science at Northern Illinois University.

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