Conferences and Meetings

Conferences and Meetings

Vision of Bandung After 50 Years Facing New Challenges

Fifty years ago, the representatives of 19 African and Asian countries gathered in Bandung to declare their denunciation of colonialism, adopt the principles of peaceful existence and expand the peace front in the struggle against colonialism. This Afro-Asian conference was held from 8 to 24 April 1955 upon the initiative and invitation of Indonesia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Pakistan and Burma (Menimar). Most of the African and Asian countries that attended the meeting were still struggling to gain independence, especially the African countries. However, they aspired to create an organization capable of stand between the two fighting giants- the USA and USSR. This gave rise to the role of Bandung Conference during the Cold War.

      The Conference is considered a brick in the foundation of Afro-Asian solidarity and non-aligned movement. The Solidarity Organization was founded in January 1958 to disseminate the inspiring spirit and principles of Bandung. These principles were to become the basis of international relations. The Organization still gain the public opinion and supports the vulnerable and marginalized peoples in the South. Hence, it is a popular extension of the non-aligned movement. NAM formed in 1961 with the purpose of the formation of one entity that hosts a number of countries standing between the capitalist and socialist camps; clearing up the residues of colonialism and ensuring equality among peoples. This is to be realized through the eradication of imperialism that practises the most atrocious forms of political, economic and social suppression.

      The starting point of the non-aligned movement is definitely attributed to the existence of a bipolar world. The movement emerged to declare its independence from the two blocs; defy the policy of hegemony and domination; work for progress and development. The non-aligned movement, besides being political in nature, enjoyed a moral aspect in the first place. It is based on the values of right, highlights the interests of mankind, seeks to administer justice and settle disputes in an amicable manner, endeavours to stop the armament race and keep peace. In fact, the movement witnessed a tremendous success in the 1960s and 1970s. Several African countries managed to gain independence. Furthermore, the movement gained the support of peace- lovers in the North and South who called for disarmament. Its membership increased gradually.

      In the 1980s, the Movement started to weaken due to the intervention of the super powers in its affairs, trying to impose their visions and stances. This weakened the movement’s unity and created blocs inside its lines. In the 1990s, the USSR, one of the two poles, collapsed. The new world order became unipolar. This does not mean one world with one pole expressive of the interests of the peoples of the World and based on values and morals as it claims. It is one pole that enjoys hegemony and has imperialistic aspirations. The USA became the dominating super power in the world. It is a system based on a hegemonistic stand.

      With the change in the political map of the world, globalization became the universal framework to identify the economic, political and social position of the different countries. In the Third World, this generated patterns of racial and social discrimination. Globalization, essentially, aims to ensure sharing among countries in resources, wealth and production. The non-aligned movement was more marginalized and without any weight as regards decision-making, even if it relates to its members.

      The developing countries were fettered by the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The trans-national companies fully dominated the global economy. These companies constituted the new form of colonialism. The gap between the North and South widened .The Movement failed to manage its economic affairs. These global economic conditions made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Furthermore, the instability and lack of security worldwide increased the spending on armament and development of nuclear weapons .Terrorism became rampant and cards were mixed up.

      It is unfair to claim that the failure of the Movement may be attributed solely to the collapse of the bipolar world. Several inside causes led to this result. Some regimes of the member states were repressive, violating human rights and international covenants and norms. Further, they do not apply the spirit and principles of Bandung in their dealings. Corruption governed such regimes. Normally, we cannot request other foreign regimes to respect us and ensure democracy while we abandon democracy on dealing with our peoples. Hence, the Movement weakened.

      This is manifest in the inability to settle regional conflicts and other conflicts within the member states as the Iraq-Iran war, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gulf war and the like. These conflicts were left to the two super powers (before the collapse of the USSR) to resolve. With the spread of poverty and unemployment, the destruction of the environment and the deterioration of the living conditions, relentless efforts mounted to set up a bank for the non-aligned countries to defy the large blocs. The Movement failed to realize this. Some member states concluded bilateral agreements with the USA to promote their own interests regardless of the joint interests. The Movement failed in this attempt.

      Many questioned the role and the purpose of the Movement. Can it survive amidst the national and international changes? What are the means to revive the Movement that waned? To answer these questions, one has to refer to the primary purpose of its establishment. It was a response to the African and Asian countries to gain independence and liberation from imperialism and colonialism, and improve their economic conditions.

      With the end of the Cold War, the emergence of the new world order and the accelerating speed of economic, social and cultural globalization , compliance with the Movement’s values and objectives still exists with adjustment of these values and objectives according to the new conditions. We are still in dire need to the Movement, especially in the light of the new economic and political risks and challenges. It is of vital importance to know how the Movement can, through its adherence to these principles, present convincing and decisive solutions to the current problems.

First: The Movement has to be restructured as regards its institutions, membership and duties. The Movement is still governmental. It has to be popular, based on the movement of the peoples in the South and North, who suffer from suppression and oppression due to the coercive economic and political policies.

Second: Internal reforms. This can be realized through adoption of the path that leads to development, democracy and good governance.

Third: Sharing resources and wealth among the member states through the conclusion of agreements, international and non-governmental organizations. This is meant to reach a joint outlet of interests and benefits for these countries.

Fourth: Formation of the developing countries’ union as a league amid the oppressive globalization. This shall enable the countries to take decisions and negotiate with WTO and other international organizations. This shall be of benefit to the member states.

Fifth: The Movement shall rely on negotiations as a method of dealing as wars and disputes constitute time-fused bombs detrimental to the interests of countries and peoples.

Sixth: Partnership with the United Nations (UN), founded in 1945, to raise the banner of defence of the crushed peoples in the South. The UN is in need of reform as regards the Security Council and the General Assembly. The Movement, through its solidarity, has to remain effective in the decision-making process in the UN.

      In conclusion, the non-aligned movement has to play its role within an inter-dependent world order based on interdependence and globalization. Hence, the Movement shall present a just world order based on its strength and organization.

      More than two decades ago, a trend emerged in the international arena that questioned the importance and significance of the non-aligned movement. The inquiries mounted on the importance and historical role of the Movement. What are the future prospects of the Movement amidst the recent developments, especially after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bipolar system?

      Three summits, held in Jakarta(1992),Columbia (1995) and Durban, South Africa(1998), determined the importance of the Movement and the need to enhance and support it to proceed along the new world conditions. The Kula Lambur summit in 2003 supported this trend. It furthermore emphasized the importance of activating the mechanisms of the Movement; strengthen its Secretariat and the other agencies.

      These summits managed to diagnose the new global conditions, manifest in the accelerating speed of globalization, the mounting role of capital, the great evolution in the scientific and technological revolution, associated with the information and communications revolution that changed the face of mankind and influenced the minds of millions of people worldwide. Furthermore, the industrial countries tightened their grip on the global economy, with acquisition of 80% of the world production, leaving only 20% to the South.

      Within this framework, many concepts changed in the Movement, and consequently the parent movement-Bandung-as its fundamental principles may constitute the framework for the international relations and the enhancement of the universal peaceful policies. However, the member states are unable to form a homogeneous bloc in the broad sense of the word. The different countries within the Movement became under the control of the international capitalist institutions like the World Bank, IMF and WTO. The economic relations of these countries, individually or collectively, with these institutions become more entrenched than their relations with one another.

      The regional economic blocs, that aim at a certain stage to realize growth in south east Asia, Africa and the Arab world, failed to enhance popular inter-trade but managed to enhance their economic relations with the capitalist countries. Hence, the multinationals played a mounting role in the formation of the economies of these countries .Furthermore, the economy of these countries became more dependent on these multinational companies .We can conclude by emphasizing that the rich countries became richer and the poor poorer! 

      We do not want to repeat statements that are now self-evident in the light of our movement’s historical experience. However,  we cannot ignore the fact that important countries in the movement have managed to improve their economies and be influential in the world partnership side by side with the major industrial countries. We have the Malaysian and the Indian experiments as well as the gigantic Chinese renaissance and the other economic developments in south east Asian countries. Besides, there are the economic and political developments in Latin American countries. That is why  the call by Brazilian President Lula da Silva for an alliance of the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America has echoed far and wide in international and popular circles.

      Objectively and historically speaking, the non-alignment movement cannot revert to patterns of past conflicts.  Today’s world is totally unlike yesterday’s, and we always need to activate our movement’s role.  The fundamental problem that has weakened our movement lies in the movement’s countries’ systems that were in many, if not most,  cases, totalitarian, opposed to democracy and human rights principles, coupled with corruption, these processes benefited the elite interests. This is a common feature of many of the movements’ countries. I do not want to enter into more details.

      The declining growth rates in these countries have been accompanied with the emergence of diverse social ailments, like organized crime, lethal diseases that had formerly disappeared from the world, like malaria, tuberculosis and, more ominously, the AIDS that plaguing Africa and many Asian countries. Also, despite World Heath Organization’s attempts and the discussions that took place in the World Trader Organization on property rights, on medicine prices, the giant companies have prevented other countries, like India, China, and others, from producing alternative medicines that would help eliminate these diseases.

      Particularly terrorism assumed a high profile in international and national politics after the 11th September 2001. The steps which were taken after September 11th doesn't lead to a final victory over terrorism, but it may lead to a protracted war with unknown results. The US and other countries who are engaged in his fight should have tackled the real causes and have to dry the swamps of poverty and misery in which hate and vengeance live on it, as a better alternative strategy.     

      The 11th September belongs to the sad and tormented details of our contemporary world, were the free use of technology and mass communications with the rapid transfer of capital and people in an interdependent world with total control of TNC=B9s makes the poor poorer and rich richer.

      The world today is characterized by greater aggressiveness on the developed countries’ part, especially the United States.

      Globalization has also entered its militarized stage. Social patterns are now being imposed and regimes changed by pressure and aggression. After the advent of  President Bush with his New Conservatives the US administration adopted a more aggressive, heavy-handed and unilateral world policy. It acts unilaterally instead of resorting to the United Nations or international pluralism. It adopts the Anticipatory  attack as a system, believing that the historical moment for undisputed hegemony over the world has come. Despite the world’s protests, it disregards international legitimacy and the norms and laws that the world has observed since the end of world war 11. It has seized control of many countries’ energy resources in total disregard of international legitimacy, as in the case of Iraq. It also unilaterally pressurized many countries such as Iran and Syria, encourages Israel to breach all international legitimacy resolutions, and backtracks on all ideas and proposals it formerly proposed for a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict, under the pressure of Israeli extremist rightist forces. The United States also interfered in the former Soviet Union’s republic’s internal affairs, managing to change them via pressures on Russia. This trend, however, is a temporary one despite its ferocity. The European groupings, the resurgence of Russia, developments in China and India, the popular upsurge in Latin America, the African countries’ attempt to resolve their own problems independently and the economic grouping that our movement’s countries have initiated, are all seeds that will hopefully yield fruit in a better world.

      The NAM countries have to activate the popular movement as its effective weapon. The Bandung experience fifty years ago has not assumed its historic importance from the countries that shared it alone. It also drew inspiration from the major popular uprising that swept across Asia and Africa and crystallized, through   delegations and institutions, in the formation of our popular Afro-Asian organization which is now celebrating the golden anniversary of the Bandung experience.

      Responding to the call by Brazil’s president can be through the formation of an Asian-African-Latin American alliance and the activation of a popular movement in the three continents. This can be through perseverant work with institutions, parties and movements according to a comprehensive and flexible program in which these movements express their aadherence to peace, democracy, non-aggression, maintenance of national independence according to modern international criteria and developing economies on scientific bases and through popular participation.

      The 21-countries formed at the World Trade Organization’s recent ministerial meeting in Cancun can serve as a nucleus marking the birth of such a movement.

      In this context, our organization has backed and contributed to support the formation of several social fora, particularly the Arab, African and Asian Social Forum and the World Forum in each of Bombay and Puerto Allegro. It announces its support for these movements, attempting to lay for them foundations that yield clear results.

      We would like to explain that the AAPSO has experienced difficult times and faced greater challenges by reason of these developments. We might also say that nonetheless we managed to pass the throttle and are keen to engage in the debate over the prospects and the future of the non-alignment movement and of African-Asian-Latin American solidarity movement.

      We are keen to hear objective and bold opinions and proposals that activate our movement’s role. We also like to stress that it is difficult for the non-aligned countries to remain isolated from their own people.  The masses are the biggest challenge to the world policies of hegemony, arrogance and economic plunder. 

      Introducing reform in our movement's countries is a big basic task because it will serve as the basis for democracy, respect for human rights, achievement of sustainable development , elimination of illiteracy, upgrading educational systems, encouraging research centres and liberating the masses from superstition and ideas leading to backwardness and the absence of public awareness by adopting a media policy for this purpose.

      The diversity of thought, respect for the other, transparency and marching together through diversity are indispensable for the advancement of our movement..

      In conclusion, we would like to say that we hope that you enrich these  remarks by  your thoughts and ideas.


Nouri Abdul Razzak

Secretary General, AAPSO