Time to change

At a time when the epoch-making attainments of the Jana Andolan have already attracted worldwide attention as well as appreciation, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs K P Oli will be well advised to resist the temptation of turning the upcoming Non-aligned Movement’s (NAM) ministerial meeting in Malaysia into a briefing session to update his counterparts on what Nepal achieved through the recent uprising. Efforts should instead be made towards optimum utilisation of the opportunity to urge the august gathering to grapple with the burning issues dogging the developing world. The meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, May 27-30, is expected to complete the spadework for the 14th Summit of the NAM heads of state and government in Havana from September 11 to 16. Though the theme of the ministerial meeting will be ‘Towards a More Dynamic and Cohesive NAM: Challenges of the 21st Century’, it will also discuss the modalities of handing over the NAM chairmanship to Cuba during the final Summit. Inputs made through intense deliberations on vital global and regional issues like human rights and social development, among others, will be incorporated in the Summit agenda.

The movement was designed to balance the pressures created during the Cold War era. But after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1990 and with it the introduction of a New World Order, the relevance of NAM has increasingly come under question. Given the compulsions of a unipolar world, this grouping, since its first summit in 1961, has not really succeeded in adjusting to the changing times. This is evident from the fact the NAM member states seem more interested in associating themselves with or are attached to other regional groupings like SAARC, ASEAN, EU, to name just a few.

For a Third World country like Nepal, any grouping is good enough if it helps in promoting her national interests and more so at a time when she is passing through a tumultuous phase. NAM is precisely one such unique international body that can be instrumental in creating opportunities for Nepal to generate support in these hard times. Not only that, it can also help Nepal win support for the coveted non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council. In this perspective, Nepal cannot afford to sideline NAM in favour of other regional arrangements as it can still serve as a viable platform to articulate the individual and general concerns of the developing world at multilateral forum like the United Nations. But, in order to keep pace with the modern times, NAM will have to give way to its outmoded policies and be more practical and business-like. To achieve better results, NAM, however, must do something extraordinary to rejuvenate itself.