Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Non-Aligned Movement was used by the Junta

Prof. Kanbawza Win

It was really sad, painful and unbelievable to witness that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of 100 states plus who consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc has unwittingly is aligned itself with the dictators against democracy, even though we understand that the importance and the relevance of the Non Aligned Movement has outlived its usefulness, since the collapse of the Soviet Union .

No doubt democratic Burma and not the military Burma was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. It started in the Colombo Conference in 1950, when Prime Minister U Nu, met with Pandit Nehru of India, Mrs Bandranaike of Ceylon (at that time was not Sri Lanka yet), Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Sukarno of Indonesia, which later blossom into the concept of a collective intergovernmental effort toward the economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region, better known as the Colombo Plan. The term "Non-Alignment" itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, where he described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement.

This paved the way to the famous Bandung Conference of, Indonesia in 1955 where the world's "non-aligned" nations declared their desire not to become involved in the East-West ideological confrontation of the Cold War. Bandung marked a significant milestone for the development of NAM as a political movement it was six years later in September of 1961, through the voluntary of Josip Broz Tito, then-president of Yugoslavia, that the first official Non-Aligned Movement Summit was held in Belgrade with Nehru of India, U Nu of Burma, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia and Kwame Nkruman of Ghana. The democratic civilain government with U Nu and U Thant, waving their Gongbaung were setting examples at the United Nations of how to vote. But since 1962, that prestigious place was gone under the boots of the Burmese Military Generals.

The founders of the Non-Aligned Movement and their successors recognized that the Movement would probably be destroyed if they created such formal structures for the Movement as a constitution and internal secretariat. With its diverse membership, consensus-building is no easy task in the Non Aligned Movement as some members, e.g. Indian and Pakistan have been at loggerheads for years. So it has created a unique form of administrative style. Non-Aligned administration is non-hierarchical, rotational and inclusive, providing all member states, regardless of size and importance, with an opportunity to participate in global decision-making and world politics. The Summit is the occasion when the Movement formally rotates its Chair to the Head of State of the host country of the Summit, who then holds office until the next Summit. The Chair is at the same time also delegated certain responsibilities for promoting the principles and activities of the Movement. This year the chair is Cuba, which is anti American and will try its level best to destabilize any constructive proposal put up by the US to the UN including the Burmese Case.

By creating the practice of a rotating chair, Non-Aligned countries therefore place the onus of an administrative structure on the country assuming the Chair. When a country assumes the Chair of the Movement, it creates or designates an entire section of the Foreign Ministry to deal specifically with Non-Aligned issues.

Hence Cuban delegation has vehemently protested the Burmese Case at the UN. The big question is why did not NAM take any action against Burma when it was put up at the General Assembly and there are 28 resolutions adopted by the U.N. General Assembly for Burma to remedy and why is the hue and cry only when Burma was in the agenda of the Security Council? The Non Aligned Movement by its hypocrisy is just tarnishing its fair name.

There are times when the Commission on Human Rights, calling for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, as well as the actions undertaken by the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, his office and personal envoys over the past ten years, the Non-Aligned did not lift a finger to chastise the Burmese Generals.

Why did NAM shout its big mouth despite the four envoys to Burma mandated by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, went to Rangoon and achieved nothing. In the meant time the Junta's unlawful methods of political and ethnic repression have intensified and consolidated and all these time the Non-Aligned Movement has kept its mouth shut and why its is only now that is beating the drum?

Secondly, since Non-Aligned countries meet regularly at the UN and conduct much of their work there, the Chairs' Ambassador at the United Nations essentially functions as the "Minister of Non-Aligned Affairs".

The work of the non-aligned often consumes the activities of the Chairs' Permanent Mission in New York. The NAM Caucus in the Security Council, constantly strive to adopt unified positions, and that the decisions and the positions of NAM as adopted at its Summits and Ministerial Conferences and by the Coordinating Bureau be properly reflected by them in the Security Council, without prejudice to their sovereign rights. If so why was Burma case not discussed by the NAM delegate. At the Cartagena Summit the Heads of State or Government called for the need to continue to enhance this coordination, including the possibility of holding consultations on a regular basis, between members of the NAM Caucus and other members of the Coordinating Bureau.

The Chair of the Coordinating Bureau in New York should attend and address the Security Council on matters of particular importance to members of the Movement. In 2003, Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa - the NAM chair country at the time - warned that the movement's future depended on its response to global challenges. He called on the NAM to take stronger resolutions on issues of concern of human rights and why is not the Burmese Gross Human Rights Violations not discuss at the NAM assembly?

The practice of the Movement is to make all decisions by consensus. Consensus has enhanced the solidarity and unity of the Movement. This concept presupposes understanding of and respect for different points of view, including disagreement and implies mutual accommodation on the basis of which agreement can emerge by a sincere process of adjustment among member nations in the true spirit of Non-Alignment. The Cartagena Document on Methodology states that consensus, while signifying substantial agreement, does not require implying unanimity. We sometimes wonder whether the Burmese case was ever taken for consensus. NAM essentially focuses on national struggles for independence, the eradication of poverty, economic development and the Burmese democracy movement is the national struggle against the tyrannical Burmese army for independence that has terrorist the country since 1962.

Last, but not the least is our humble advice to those who are at the helm of the ethno-democratic movement that nothing can be taken for granted. We may have our good contact with the Internal Labor Organization or through the International Court of Justice or at the UN Assembly, or the various UN Agencies via through the Economic and Social Council, including the parliamentary caucus such as Socialist International or Liberal International etc but we must not leave out the NAM which has makes its present felt again in the impending new Cold War. Group of 77 is also a strong force at the UN. We strongly think that we need more brains at the helm then just leave it to our so call elected representative who enjoys the niceties of life in New York and Washington.

Prof. Kanbawza Win (Dr. B.T.Win): Incumbent Dean of Students of AEIOU Programme, Chiangmai University, Thailand. Senior Research Fellow at the European Institute of Asian Studies, Under the European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Earlier Consultant to National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. Editorial Consultant, "Asian Tribune." The learned Professor submitted this article for publication in the "Asian Tribune."

- Asian Tribune -

Share this


.