Wednesday, July 22, 2009

15th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt Focuses on Global Crisis

15th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt Focuses on Global Crisis

Gathering gives voice to the immense majority of humanity calling for new economic order

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt was the location of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit held between July 15-16. The meeting, convened under the theme of "International Solidarity for Peace and Development", emphasized the role of the western industrialized states in creating the global economic crisis that has rendered tens of millions of people to unemployment and poverty throughout the world.

NAM, which was founded in 1961, enjoys membership by 118 nations throughout the developing world.

The outgoing chair of the NAM, Cuban President Raul Castro, delivered the keynote address to nearly 60 heads of state and 8,000 delegates from various countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. Other leaders, such as President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, also spoke to the NAM Summit and stressed the necessity of the organization to provide an effective alternative to the international financial institutions as well as the United Nations.

Mugabe, whose southern African nation has been subjected intense sanctions and villification by the imperialist states over the last decade, has recently overseen the implementation of an inclusive coalition government encompassing the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the two main factions in the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T and MDC-M). Yet the country is still subjected to sanctions by the United States, Britain and the European Union.

In his address to the NAM Summit, Mugabe said that "The Movement cannot afford a business-as-usual approach. Hard questions beckon and we need to go beyond the current practice of debates and the adoption of action plans that rarely see the light of day.

"Our clear and present challenge is a timeous, effective and unapologetic responsibility of delivering a just, peaceful and equitable world order. The Non-Aligned Movement faces renewed attempts by some Western countries to interfere in the internal affairs of NAM member countries. This 'big brother is watching' state of affairs is a grave danger to international peace and security." (Zimbabwe Herald, July 16)

Mugabe continued by pointing out that "The severity of the machinations by the Western world has often manifested itself in a number of ways, including the use of surreptitious and illegal attempts by some Western countries to abuse the UN Security Council to unjustly punish developing countries through the imposition of illegal and unilateral sanctions."

According to Mugabe his nation of Zimbabwe "was a target of these abhorrent machinations" and that "we need to recognize that as long as the UN retains its present form, it will continue to be abused by the mighty, haughty and militarily powerful to victimise the smaller and weaker nations. The international financial system, symbolised by the Bretton Woods institutions in particular, is similarly in dire need of reform."

The Zimbabwean president also noted that although the present global economic meltdown started in the western imperialist states, the impact of the crisis is having a devastating impact on the developing countries where there is a lessening in demand for products, the closure of plants and businesses and the deepening of poverty.

Mugabe expressed his support for the recent G192 Summit held at the United Nations headquarters in New York by the General Assembly. He endorsed the recommendations of the G192 to place the International Monetary Fund and World Bank under the control of the General Assembly.

The former liberation movement leader also called for greater South-South collaboration although not ruling out cooperation between all states. He emphasized that the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the NAM had provided tremendous support to Zimbabwe. However, the existing sanctions imposed by the imperialist states continue to hamper progress inside the country.

"They (the West) are still bent on their goal of effecting regime change in my country. We count on your continued solidarity and support in our endeavour to improve the quality of life of our people," Mugabe said.

Cuban President Raul Castro Calls for New World Economic Order

In his keynote address, the outgoing chair of NAM, Raul Castro, renewed the call for a new economic division of labor and financial power. "We demand the establishment of a new international financial and economic structure that relies on the participation of all countries," Castro said.

"There must be a new framework that doesn't depend solely on the economic stability and the political decision of only one country," the Cuban leader stated in apparent reference to the United States. "This crisis, the worst in living memory, emanated from the advanced industrial economies, but the developing economies, the members of our movement, have been the hardest hit."

Castro reported on the work of NAM over the last three years since Cuba has been serving as chair. According to Castro "The common challenges for the non-aligned countries are serious and numerous. Never before has the world been so unequal and its inequities so profound. But, along with the challenges, our Movement's capacity for resistance and its strength have also grown." (Gramma International, July 16)

The Cuban president continued by pointing out that "We have faced threats and aggression, condemned unjust treaties in international trade and finance, and demanded our full participation in the highest authorities of world governance. A decisive part of Cuba's presidency coincided with one of the most aggressive and hegemonic governments, one of the greatest violators of international law, that has ever existed in the United States."

Other issues addressed by the NAM over the last three years has also centered around gaining greater decision-making authority among developing countries within the United Nations Security Council. Although the issue has been addressed, there is still a disproportionate allocation of power to the western imperialist states.

Castro stated as well that the NAM has continued to express solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian and Arab peoples. "We have not hesitated to condemn the aggression and crimes of Israel, the occupying power. We will not rest until we see the implementation of the demands of the Palestinian and Arab brothers and sisters. There is no path other than dialogue and negotiation for achieving a just and lasting peace in the entire Middle East region, which inevitably involves the founding of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital."

In addition, Castro condemned the June 28 military coup in Honduras and demanded that President Jose Manuel Zelaya be restored to office. The coup has been denounced by governments and mass organizations throughout Latin America and the world.

The outgoing NAM chair also stressed that despite the economic blockade against Cuba, the country has continued to engage in international solidarity efforts particularly in the medical field. "Even in these difficult circumstances, our people have modestly demonstrated how much can be done, when political will exists, in terms of international solidarity and cooperation, particularly in the area of health."

In this regard, Castro said that "Almost 15,000 Cuban medical collaboraters are working in 98 countries to save lives and prevent disease. More than 32,000 young people from 118 states, principally in the Third World, are studying free of charge at our educational centers, 78% of them, in the specialties of medicine."

From Bandung to Sharm El-Sheikh

The Non-Aligned Movement has its origins in the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia in April 1955. 29 countries attended the Bandung meeting from Asia and Africa. Even though the Bandung Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement has been described as an effort to chart a course independent of both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, socialist states such as China and Vietnam have been involved with the movement since its inception.

In 1961, the formal organization of the Non-Aligned Movement took place with its founding summit in Yugoslavia. Some of the leading figures in the formation of the NAM were Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Josep Broz Tito of Yugoslavia.

At the 1979 NAM Summit in Havanna, Cuba, the declaration stated that the purpose of the organization was 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."

NAM represents two-thirds of the United Nations membership and approximately 55% of the world population.

The chair of the organization has now been handed over to Egypt. This year's summit produced declarations related to the need for global food security, climate change, solidarity with the Palestinian people and a resolution honoring the 91st birthday of former African National Congress leader and South African president Nelson Mandela.

No comments: