Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2012 > Iran Hosts the 16th NAM Summit

Mainstream, VOL L, No 37, September 1, 2012

Iran Hosts the 16th NAM Summit

Sunday 2 September 2012

by Sudhanshu Tripathi

The successful inauguration of the Non-Aligned Summit at Tehran proves once again the underlying spirit of unity among its member nations, though it has yet to deal with the prevailing serious challenges in the form of hyperpower or superpower dominance through military interventions, economic sanctions or other coercive means against the spirit of the United Nations Charter.

The ongoing 16th Non-Aligned Summit, which opened in Tehran on August 26, is certainly a manifestation of the deepseated longing of self-respect and equality in the comity of nations of the underdeveloped and developing countries of the Third World spread over the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The host country, Iran, a prominent ancient civilisation, has once again passionately appealed to all members of this Movement to remain united as the US has failed, so far, to isolate it from the rest of the world. Its holding in the Iranian capital underlines the united support of the non-aligned nations to the leadership of Iran, which has been facing, due to its continuing nuclear programme, a massive onslaught of sanctions imposed at the behest of America—in one form or the other—since long, particularly after the destruction of Iraq by the US and, consequently, elimination of the then Iraqi President, Saddam Huessain, on the false charge of possessing WMDs which was exposed to the world only thereafter.
Perhaps keeping this fact in mind, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, while opening the Summit, hoped for a show of solidarity against the sanctions the West has imposed to punish Iran for its nuclear activities. “The non-aligned [movement] must seriously oppose… unilateral economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against non-aligned countries,” Salahi told the Summit. Besides, his allusion was also to the undue interventions in the Arab world by outside Western powers for their own vested interests; and these, he asserted, must stop immediately. That is because their biased involvement has complicated all contentious issues till now, instead of resolving them with honest intentions.

In fact, the idea of non-alignment was floated by the legendary leader, statesman and the most popular PM of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, immediately after the end of the Second World War in 1945, when the world was divided into two halves: the Western bloc led by the US and the communist one, by the then USSR. Their mutual antagonism and rivalry led to the emergence of bipolarity in the world and consequently Cold War between them, which witnessed several unfortunate and destructive incidents, even wars between countries, besides the fierce arms race and resultant alliance formations and installation of weapons with nuclear missiles etc. in the entire world. Nehru along with a few other prominent leaders, like Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia, decided not to join either of the blocs and maintain same distance with them without any prejudice, fear or favour. In their wisdom they decided to follow an inde-pendent foreign policy because that would, they felt, reduce the intra-bloc rivalry and consequently wars on the one hand, and divert their efforts towards humanitarian goals, including national reconstruction and establishing peace in the world, on the other.

With such objectives in mind, these leaders launched the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961 with its first Summit of 25 members at Belgrade in Yugoslavia to counter the superpower dominance in international relations. Beginning with the three D-s, decolonisation, disarmament and development, the Movement today addresses all issues of human concern and welfare following the universal principles of truth, justice and equality as underlined much earlier in the Peace Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which subsequently became the guiding principles of the League of Nations as well as the United Nations Charter. And, it is no mean achievement that the Movement has survived, despite bitter criticism of its relevance even after six decades, with its continuously rising membership to 120 countries at the 16th Summit today. And it has also achieved some prominent goals like decolonisation, removal of apartheid and other significant developmental and political-economic targets.

In this scenario, the ongoing NAM Summit in Tehran will deliberate on some of the important issues like the Syrian crisis, sanctions against Iran, global economic recession particularly affecting the least developed countries, terror of all forms including global terrorism, disarma-ment and elimination of nuclear weapons, protection of human rights etc. and such other matters of common human interest. With the Syrian crisis likely to dominate the discussions, Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad is to figure, in all likelihood, prominently with the possibility of the Movement’s inability to reach a consensus on this question. Nevertheless, Iran is expected to consult the member-countries on the sidelines of the Summit on a “comprehensive package” to resolve the crisis in Syria. The presence of the Egyptian President at the Summit will add to the emerging cooperation between Iran and Egypt towards establishing a united regional front against outside interventions and for protection of their own natural riches as well as peace and security in West Asia and the world.

Dr Tripathi is an Associate Professor, Political Science, MDPG College, Prtapgarh (UP).

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted