What is the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) Place in Contemporary Global Political Space?

By Moshi Israel

After Uganda hosting the 19th NAM and G77+ China Summits in Kampala, I felt it prudent that I focus my analytical scope on the relevance of NAM in the current political climate. It is my strong view that this movement’s relevance is needed today as much as it was during the time of its inception. Therefore NAM occupies an important place in contemporary Global political space.

The major reason NAM was formed back in 1955 was to create a corridor of peace in global politics of the time between the two camps of the Soviets and the Capitalist West. The USSR and the USA had created a belligerent atmosphere on the Global Political Stage. The two hegemons sucked other smaller countries into their political and economic orbits. Consequently, proxy conflicts and distant battle grounds became a favored way for the USSR and USA to intimidate and defeat each other.

The movement is one of the largest inter-governmental bodies with 120 member countries. Its members are mostly from Asian and African countries. This is significant because these two regions represent the highest percentage of the human population and interact easily under the auspices of the south-south cooperation.

Borrowing a quote from one of the prominent NAM proponents, the late Fidel Castro of Cuba in his Havana Declaration of 1979; NAM is to ensure ‘the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries’ in their ‘struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.’

The declaration summarizes NAM’s purpose candidly and speaks to the aspirations that every NAM member ought to hold as they navigate the current global political climate.

The issues of interest for NAM are of paramount importance, given the current political atmosphere in the international arena. These issues of interest range from respect for international law, peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force, right to self- government and decolonization to international security, regional security, terrorism, UN reform, peacekeeping and peace building. These issues are the kryptonite to international peace and finding a solution to them is vital to change the course of world politics especially in our contemporary political climate.

Conflicts in both Gaza and Ukraine, tensions between the United States and China, the climate crisis and the recent Covid-19 Pandemic pause a real risk to long-term international security and peace. NAM members should feel empowered and emboldened to change the narrative and the power dynamics within the international Arena. Crises that are facing our world today are proof that the current international order is flailing and either needs reform or complete overhaul.

Most NAM member states may not be the richest or have the most influence individually but together they form a vital bloc that can steer international political discourse in a direction that serves everyone equally and respectfully.

Therefore, the Munyonyo NAM summit raised the stakes for Non-aligned countries and most especially the summit’s chair, Uganda. As a small developing land-locked nation, Uganda has exceeded expectations by proving to be a force that cannot be ignored in both international and regional political discourse.  The 19th NAM summit has presented an opportunity for Uganda to score vital political, social and economic points. With avid planning and strategic engagements with relevant stakeholders, Uganda has walked away a winner from this summit with a stellar international reputation.

The world is truly changing, and at a fast pace, globalization has shattered the cultural barriers and increased interdependence among different civilizations. The internet of things and the rapid development of new technologies has shrunk the space created by geographical barriers between countries and instead has brought everyone closer through the screens of personal computers. AI technology is evolving at an uncontrollable speed and has left governments grappling with its regulation. Meanwhile, Africa is still playing catch up with the digital and green economic revolutions.

Therefore, the timing of the 19th NAM summit in an African country could not have been more perfect. The NAM summit has highlighted Africa in general as respectable global political player. This has come at a time when the world seeks true multipolarity and seeks to discard the confines of great power politics. Africa through Uganda is sending out a clear message that the days of the ‘status quo’ are nearing the end and it is time for the so-called great powers to embrace a world of real equality where unilateral decision making on global issues will become a relic of the past.

President Museveni, who has been elected as the chair for NAM into another year has always championed pan Africanism and decolonization. Now he has a loud microphone to further this agenda and rally like-minded African leaders around these two concepts. The future for a multipolar world looks promising and African nations are increasingly playing a key role. This makes NAM more relevant in the contemporary global political space than ever before.

The Writer is a Senior Research Fellow at Development Watch Centre







Non-Aligned Movement Offers us Hopes for a Multipolar World

By Nnanda Kizito Sseruwagi.

The world’s bipolar power structure which had determined the security policies of the two global powers, the USA and USSR, collapsed with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. This left America as the sole power with global dominance. I think that the inherent structure of unipolarity and the U.S.’s strategic position as the unipolar moral whip of Western neo-liberal democratic principles threatens any prospects for world peace and makes conflict likely. However, I also observe that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is steadily pushing against the U.S.’s unipolarity, and promises to collapse it without dissenting into war as is normally feared by hegemonic stability theorists.

Unipolarity is where a single state exerts military and economic power, and social and cultural influence over other states and eradicates competition on the landscape of international relations. The prevailing global geopolitical dispensation rests on the United States’ institutional and ideological dominance, with an international order expediently designed after the Second World War to sustain America’s primacy in great power politics. But that privilege is about to change with the collaboration of NAM’s 120 member states with China and Russia.

Whereas the American hegemonic order seems secure against would-be hegemonic challengers like China and Russia, NAM seems to perennially and steadily resist and challenge the liberal basis of U.S. hegemony, which is presented as a transparent, democratic political system. Supported by but not absorbed by China and Russia, members of NAM are making it harder for America to enjoy its cherished post-war world order.

I am inclined to agree with one of the world’s leading experts in the field of security studies, Prof. Barry Possen, who argues that unipolarity is in decline and that the world is shifting towards multipolarity. Multipolarity is where power is distributed among several states with similar amounts of power/influence. A great political scientist and international relations scholar of global repute, John Mearsheimer, shares a more controversial view, arguing that America’s liberal international order was flawed from its inception and thus destined to collapse.

America designed a world order where world states had to yield their decision-making authority to American-controlled international institutions. However, since the majority of states organized under NAM now greatly care about their sovereignty, autonomy and national identity, they have rebelled against and outgrown the US’s policing. America’s self-righteous hubris as the world’s policeman, and the hypocrisy with which it preaches and enforces Western liberal-democratic values ostracized it from the global south, hence indirectly propping up its nemesis, China. However, China has not yet marshalled sufficient power to contend with America to the point of toppling it from unipolarity to bipolarity. And for China’s strategic stability as an influential world power, it might never push the U.S. to that tipping point.

As the largest grouping of states worldwide after the American-dominated United Nations, and with its hallowed principles of mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in domestic affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence, and with China closely tied to supporting these principles, the Non-Aligned Moved seems to pose a serious challenge to the Hegemonic Stability Theory (HST). Therefore, it is no longer persuasive for proponents of the US’s unipolarity to claim that the international system will be destabilized to a clashing point of war (Thucydides trap) if America ceases to enjoy the place of a single hegemon.

Proponents of the HST usually rely on the Pax Britannica (the period of relative peace between great powers when the British Empire enjoyed global hegemonic dominance) and Pax Americana (where relative peace was experienced in the world after the end of World War II when the United States became the world’s dominant economic, cultural, and military power) as evidence for the stability of hegemony. However, they forget that the central mechanism in hegemonic stability theory which revolves around the provision of public goods by a powerful actor has been disproved by China, which has extended public goods to the majority of global southern countries without exercising hegemony, and most importantly, while supporting the principles of non-alignment.



Members of NAM are most likely to further dilute the U.S.’s influence as a sole global power by endorsing, supporting and even joining multipolar institutions and initiatives like BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and other countries), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)- a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations. The highlight and promise of BRICS is its attempt to redesign the global financial architecture and liberate it from the tyranny of America’s Bretton Woods institutions. It is unimaginable for the U.S. to retain its unipolarity if its financial web is torn apart with the support of NAM for BRICS and other like institutions.

For all the criticisms that might be levelled against the NAM, it has stood the test of time. Its member states are loosely and flexibly bound together by enduring principles that seem simple but whose strength lies in their simplicity. By declining to take positions with any power bloc, NAM members might be the biggest architects of global peace since the Second World War. They have pursued and promoted amicable coexistence on the international stage, exposing Western moral hubris in the ongoing genocide against Palestinians by Israel, and many other conflicts. This stance has challenged the unipolar posture of America in the world and demonstrated a desire and possibility for a more multipolar international system.

The writer is a lawyer and Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.




They Came, They Saw, They Joined: China’S Association With G77 

By Steven Akabwayi

While at Kigezi High School Kabale, we had a teacher who was fond of making fun of students but we could find it hard to hate him because of his great sense of humor and storytelling skills that made us fall in love with history.

One of the remarkable phrases I remember from one of his stories was Julius Caesar’s Latin statement “Veni,vidi, vici” loosely translated as “I came, I saw, conquered.”

Ceaser made this statement while writing to one of his friends Amantius who also served in a Roman Senate around 47 BC informing him about the quick victory in a short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the battle of Zela in modern-day Turkey.

Unlike most students, I never used to view history as just a subject, to me it was a shared adventure a journey through time of not just reciting dates and names but also drawing moral lessons from historical stories.

It’s upon Caesar’s statement “ I came, I saw, I conquered” a phrase that I base China’s association with the G77 countries informing my article’s title “They came, they saw, though they never Conquered but instead they joined”. Just like Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Adonia Ayebare who is also coordinating both NAM and G77 summits mentioned while appearing on one of the national TVs, in international relations, numbers do matter a big deal.

China’s association with the G77 countries offered it an opportunity to collaborate with over 134 countries in terms of collective bargaining and negations with the dominant Western countries mostly on multilateral agreements at the UN level.

It’s not a secret that China, just like the rest of other developing countries, continues to face unfairness and marginalization by imperialist countries in today’s world order where the West collectvely advoacte for the so-called rules-based order which sadly the West especially the U.S and allies again cherry-pick which rule to follow but call out others in event of slight deviation which today, arguably is a new normal especially the way the U.S treates those countries Washington sees as small states especially in the global south.

From January 15th -22nd of this year, all roads will lead to Kampala Munyonyo where Uganda will be hosting two big international conferences back to back (Nonaligned Movement and G77+China). Regarding these two summits that will put Uganda in the spot giving it visibility both diplomatically and politically, China has chosen not to act as a usual guest in both summits, through their embassy in Uganda, China has taken part in major backstage preparations to ensure the smooth running of the two summits.

As a gesture of brotherhood it attaches to its relations with Uganda and indeed the rest of Africa and global south in general, the Chinese government donated over 70 SUV vehicles to be used in transporting delegates and other government officials who will participate in the two summits.

Speaking about the importance of Uganda’s Chairmanship of NAM and G77 Ambassadors Adonia Ayebare noted that the global South countries have woken up to the fact that they need to express solidarity through helping each other by sharing technology through the South-South Corporation. It should be noted that China attaches much value to the South-South Corporation this has been exemplified through various development assistance such as grants and direct aid, the South-South Cooperation Fund, Belt and Road Initiative among others.

In recent trends, Western countries have been making what analysts regard as kicks of a dying horse in their attempt to deny China the status of a developing country. By doing so Western countries hoped to suppress China’s contribution and significance towards the developing world. However, unlike in the colonial era, it’s not by surprise that the Western move of divide and conquer has been a miscalculation this time given the strong solidarity among global southern countries.

The G77+China has achieved remarkable milestones, it should be noted that in 2010, the G77 group appealed for a political will from developed countries to resist all protectionist measures and tendencies, particularly on the agricultural subsidies and non-tariff barriers on trade. This was two years after the 2008 financial crisis Whose effects badly hit developing countries. It was against this backdrop that the G77 attained what’s regarded as one of the major victories commonly known as the Bali package.

The Bali package emphasized trade facilitation by resolving a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade allowing developing countries more options for addressing food security and boosting trade amongst themselves.

China being part of the G77 has been mutually beneficial offering tangible benefits to both China and the other global South countries. China has managed to leverage its association with the G77 by increasing its global influence giving it a platform to voice its interests as a developing country in terms of trade, climate change, and sustainable development.

Economically, within the past two decades, China has emerged as the largest trading partner among the G77 countries due to the enhanced market access and economic opportunities that come along with its association with the G77.

The writer is a Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre.



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