The Non-Aligned Movement in the Multipolar World

On October 25-26, 2019, the 18th meeting of Non-Aligned Movement heads of state and government was held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The outcome of the summit will promote transition to a multipolar world, including by giving small countries access to the regulation of global processes, believes Gulnara Mammadzadeh, Deputy Director of the Expert Council at the Baku International Policy and Security Network.

The Non-Aligned Movement, with its huge resource potential of the rising continents (Asia, Africa and Latin America), has been given a historic chance to transform itself from a relic of the past into a forerunner of an influential international alliance.

The rising multipolar world requires organizations like this when it comes to format and scale, with a non-bloc philosophy based on the principles of equality and cooperation driven by economic priorities. It especially needs them in the context of the ongoing crisis of the UN and other international organizations responsible for the maintenance of international order, which is only relative.

The international institutions that were established to maintain international order are not being adjusted to modern day changes. They take decisions in the interests of a small group of powers, mostly Western ones, and are guilty of using double standards, which is increasing the number of crises around the world and undermining these organizations’ ability to settle them. They adopt numerous resolutions but are unable to ensure their implementation.

In this situation, one of the main goals for the Non-Aligned Movement is to rally together international efforts towards universal compliance with the norms and principles of international law.

In fact, the non-aligned countries constitute that half of the world whose interests are not sufficiently or objectively represented at the UN.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which unites 120 countries, has the ability to address ambitious tasks, sometimes taking on the role of the UN and also pushing for the unavoidable reform of international institutions, including the UN.

The NAM concept is based on the Bandung principles, the importance of which and the need to comply with which was underscored by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev when he took over NAM’s presidency and presented the organization’s development strategy for the next three years.

The main principles include respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states (this directly concerns Azerbaijan’s interests and is an additional reason for being a NAM member), the unconditional equality of all countries and impermissibility of interference in their domestic affairs. These fundamental principles, although they are uncontestable at first glance, have been exposed to the greatest risk in the modern day world.

Azerbaijan, which will chair the organization in 2019-2022, will have to act as a crisis manager and launch a revision of NAM’s position and operation in the world, which will reveal if the movement can really be revitalized.

These efforts of Azerbaijan will be supported by the NAM countries, the UN and the partner countries, first of all, Russia, which has indicated interest in enhancing the movement’s efficiency.

Baku summit and its outcome

Azerbaijan has a vast experience of international communications and it is respected on the international stage plus it has recently taken very few inefficient foreign policy decisions. Taking all this together, its NAM’s Presidency promises to be a good period of time for the movement.

The effectiveness of the decisions taken at the Baku summit will be put to test at the end of its presidency in 2022. Right now, the movement participants and observers are mostly optimistic.

This optimism has been boosted by the meeting held between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s “oriental session”. The two presidents exchanged opinions on mutually complementing capabilities of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as their eastern partner countries. These exchanges were carried on at the NAM summit in Baku.

Non-alignment factor in the multipolar world

The outcome of the NAM summit will promote transition to a multipolar world, including by giving small countries access to the regulation of global processes, as one can see from the example of Azerbaijan.

The non-alignment factor has become an additional resource for the development of a multipolar world and will become an even stronger balancing factor in the future.

The Non-Aligned Movement should not play the role of an opponent to polarized forces, but stand up against any processes that hinder a balanced and mutually beneficial coexistence of these forces.

Hopefully, this format will eventually attain its goal when it becomes a relevant factor of international relations.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.