As the Non-Aligned Movement turns 60, many question its relevance
The Non-Aligned Movement celebrates its 60th anniversary next week and Nepal is one of the founding members, those developing countries whose basic principle is not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
Nepal received a invitation of Serbia to participate in a ceremony to be held in Belgrade on October 11 and 12 to mark the 60th anniversary of the movement’s first conference, which was first held in 1961 in Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia. so.
Sending the invitation to the 23 founding members of NAM, including Nepal, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakocic said that NAM, throughout its history, has been a beacon of freedom for all who sought the right to exist and prosper in a world that was often ruled, not by force of law, but by the law of force.
While a Nepalese delegation headed by Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka is due to attend the founding members’ meeting in Serbia, foreign policy experts and observers say that since the emergence of a new type of cold war, the Nepal has become the center of two rising powers: India and China – and in the midst of rapid geopolitical changes and flows, a very careful and balanced policy is needed for Nepal in this new emerging context.
“The new cold war that is emerging is not like the previous one,” said Professor Sridhar Khatri, adding: “Since we are located between two great powers and we are the center of geopolitical attention, a political carefully crafted foreign exchange is necessary for a small country like Nepal.
Ideally, one of the foundations of Nepal’s foreign policy is non-alignment with a great power, but time and again Nepal has shifted its focus sometimes to India, sometimes to China and sometimes to the Western bloc. , according to observers. According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal must conduct an independent foreign policy based on the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of non-alignment, the principles of Panchasheel, international laws and standards of world peace, taking into account the general interest of the country , while remaining active in safeguarding the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national interest of Nepal.
In its early days, the great powers paid great attention to the activities of NAM, said Khatri, who has led three different think tanks in the past. “Now NAM has become more ceremonial and less substantial. “
“A new type of cold war is brewing and it will certainly not be like the previous one. The nature of the new cold war is definitely different from the previous one. So we need to think in a new way to face emerging challenges, ”Khatri said.
The non-aligned movement was born after the First Cold War declared between the pro-Soviet nations belonging to the Warsaw Pact and the pro-American nations belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the official end of the first phase of the Cold War. With the emergence of China, the re-emergence of Russia and the creation of several security, military and strategic alliances led by both the United States and NATO, Indo-Pacific Strategy, QUAD and the recent alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (AUKUS) have brought about a new kind of polarization in the world and a new wave of cold war is in sight.
“As India, one of the architects of NAM, breaks its ‘deep love’ with non-alignment and chooses a multi-aligned foreign policy, the movement no longer appears to be an influential lobby group in world affairs.” , said Professor Khadga. KC of Tribhuvan University, said.
In July 2020, in his interaction with strategic experts from India, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said non-alignment was for a particular time and context.
“There were two aspects to this. One, independence. I think that this remains the factor of our continuity. The other one came in the 1950s and 1960s when we were much weaker. But today people are looking to us for solutions. We are not spectators and have a contribution to make. Connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, climate change are big issues and we are part of the discussion. And third, we must grow by taking advantage of international situations. And you can’t do it by staying away. The era of great prudence and the greatest sense of multilateral relations is over. We have to take risks ”, Jaishankar had said, what many saw as India’s departure from its previous position on the non-aligned movement.
So far, Nepal has not made any significant deviations or deviations from NAM, its principles and commitment.
While reaffirming Nepal’s deep commitment to the principles of NAM, then Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, in his October 2020 speech, said that NAM should claim its rightful place and amplify its voice. weak and vulnerable countries in their fight against the pandemic.
“The AMN must prove itself as a collective voice of reason and a source of strength for its members. For this, we, the member states of the MNA, must re-engage to make the movement more effective and adhere faithfully to its principles ”, Gyawali had said at the virtual ministerial meeting of the MNA on the sidelines of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Just like during the Cold War, however, we the smaller powers must protect the spirit of non-alignment in the changing global power relations, i.e. the emerging scenario of the so-called New Cold War. , said Professor KC. “In the new context, Nepal should seriously consider and maximize its strategies, policies and programs to benefit rival powers while disengaging from any strategic alliance. “
Some experts believe that multilateral forums like NAM and SAARC have become irrelevant as several other alliances have emerged.
“The way the new world order is evolving, we have to align ourselves one way to the other. These founders of NAM themselves are now forming and participating in other alliances. For Nepal, we need to align with one power in both directions. We cannot remain neutral. If we stay neutral then we have to say no to both MCC and BIS. Thus, NAM is the least relevant organization in the current context. And, for Nepal, we need India, China, the West and in some cases the Middle East too, ”said CD Bhatta, a Kathmandu-based political analyst who also writes on geopolitical and strategic questions in the major dailies.
Political science professor and former Nepalese Ambassador to India Lok Raj Baral agrees.
“I do not see any relevance of SAARC and NAM in today’s context. Unlike the Soviet-American Cold War, the world is on the way to becoming multipolar. No single power can rule the world today, so new alliances and blocs are emerging in changing scenarios and contexts. Even the United States of America is forging new alliances, so how can we remain indifferent to the shift in power and global balance, ”Baral said.