Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

By Hemant Kumar|Updated : January 3rd, 2020


To gain independence and prosperity in terms of foreign policy, the newly emerging states during the end of World War Second, adopted a policy named ‘Non-Alignment’. Due to its historical importance, it came to be known as the Non-Aligned Movement.

The term was coined by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in Colombo, 1954, where he also talked about ‘Panchsheel’ which, initially served as the guiding principles of Sino-Indo relations but later formed the basis of Non-Aligned Movement. It was the Bandung Conference of 1955 which served as a milestone for the development of NAM. The first NAM Summit Conference held in Belgrade in September 1961.



In the post-WWII period, the world got divided into two major blocs i.e. Capitalist Bloc led by USA and Socialist Bloc led by USSR which came to be known as two superpowers of that era. North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) was associated with the former power which is USA while The Warsaw Pact belonged the latter i.e. USSR. Thus, it was a kind of battle of imperialism in one form or other, which was existing between the two superpowers. The states which emerged after the World War Second were supposed to join any of the two superpowers and were left with no other choice as the states were weak both militarily and financially. Thus, challenging the dominance of the superpowers was not at all an option.

The fact cannot be denied that joining any of the blocks would mean giving up one’s sovereignty as none of the country’s policy could be decided unilaterally under such circumstances. Thus, few countries which had already undergone the sufferings due to the Colonial rule were not ready for any of foreign dominance again, that too is after achieving Independence because they were fully aware of the consequences. The need of the hour was to adopt a policy, which would not escalate the tensions further and thus, acting as a stabilising force between the two. Eventually, after realising the power of unity, it was decided by a handful of newly Independent States to stay neutral, without offending the two.

So, as to stay away from both East and West Power Bloc politics, leaders belonging to distinct ideological or political backgrounds, came forward and extended its support to the idea of Non-Alignment. The purpose behind this was to adopt an idea of anti-colonialism, future cooperation along with the policy of neutrality. The idea of Non-Alignment was shaped into a movement during the ‘Bandung Conference’ in Indonesia, by the eminent personalities including Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

All the members belonged to the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, who framed the movement in the form of a middle path which lies between the idea of Capitalism and Communism.


  • The fact cannot be denied that India itself was the founding member of the Non-Alignment Movement.
  • India raised its voice in the United Nations in the favour of disarmament. A draft had been submitted by India which declared that it would be against the United Nations Charter to use Nuclear Weapons. India thus supported the prohibition of nuclear weapons.


  • Currently, NAM is focussed on International Economic Order in terms of restructuring it.
  • NAM is also adopting different approaches in contemporary times so as to adjust to ongoing situations.
  • NAM encourages all its member states along with the other countries to prioritize Environmental Policies.
  • Baku Declaration has been adopted by NAM which appreciates multilateralism and encourages all the countries to commit for Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
  • Reform in Global Governance is another theme of NAM. It includes strengthening General Assembly’s powers along with geographic rotation and gender equality in terms of choosing Secretary-General.


  • Due to the various principles of NAM, it upholds relevance even in contemporary times.
  • NAM has always played as a protector for the third world nations, which have been exploited by the developed countries for a really long time.
  • NAM has always followed its principles which includes making this world a peaceful place.
  • NAM always supports sovereign world order along with the promotion of disarmament.
  • NAM always respects the Independence of each and every nation-state.
  • General Assembly includes two-third of its members belonging to NAM and thus, NAM upholds the relevance of its votes.
  • NAM acts as a platform for the negotiation of disputes existing among the developed and developing countries.

But there are many contemporary situations which prove that the existence of NAM is no more relevant. Some of the examples can be traced as it includes-

  • After the disintegration of USSR and rise of Globalization, the world became unipolar as the US was the only superpower. Thus, the basic principle of NAM i.e. to act as stabilising actor lost its relevance.
  • Another issue is that for any country, its National Interest is supreme in the contemporary times which during the clashes prioritises national interest over NAM principles.


  • It was till the 1970’s, when India was the active participant in all the meetings of NAM but India’s growing proximity with USSR raised suspicion among the smaller members.
  • After the disintegration of USSR, India tilted towards the USA for the economic policy further created ambiguity.
  • In spite of all the peculiarities, India still supports multipolarity which itself shares proximity with the principles of NAM.
  • India can utilize the platform offered by NAM to display its soft power and to act as a dominant actor among the various countries belonging to developing countries.
  • India can raise its voice regarding various issues including Terrorism, Trade Protectionism, etc.


The current Summit of NAM took place in October 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The importance of NAM can be analysed by the fact that initially, only 25 members were there. But in the present times, there are 120 members of NAM. The escalating numbers along with the regular meetings of its members, itself depicts the growing importance of NAM. This is particularly benefitting the developing countries as they have found a platform where they can raise their problems, seek cooperation, articulate their ideas, give their perspectives on various issues, makes a difference even in the contemporary times when the economic status of a particular country decides its decision making capability especially, in the world affairs. 

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