Sunday, Feb 23, 2003
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By P.S. Suryanarayana
The NAM's new wish-list, as outlined at the inaugural session of the pre-summit ministerial conference, ranged from the forum's insistence on a political and strategic say over contemporary issues of international concern to the "hope" that the movement would be able to bring a sense of "balance and moderation" to the present volatile global politics.
Addressing the assembled Foreign Ministers, the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said "the strategic realpolitik of bipolarity", which marked the U.S.-Soviet Cold War at the time of the movement's inception in the 1950s, "has (now) been replaced by the vested interests of unilateralism" as practised by "just one superpower", the United States.
"This state of affairs brings us to the brink of conflict which the peoples of the world have loudly and clearly opposed," he said in a reference to the current standoff between Washington and
Baghdad over the latter's perceived profile as a "proliferator of weapons of mass destruction". This ground reality "suggests that we live in a world that is no better than the one which the founding fathers of this movement found themselves in".
In such "a unipolar world", the NAM "must continue to maintain our independent position in global affairs". The forum, Mr. Abdullah said, "must continue to pursue peace and stability in the international order and to speak out against war, violence and terror". A "collective will" on these lines was required so that NAM could "once again occupy its place" at the benign nucleus of global power "as the legitimate voice of the world's majority".
While addressing urgent political issues of war and terrorism, the NAM "must (also) continue to be the indispensable forum for developing countries". Mr. Abdullah's reasoning was that "no superpower, however benign and well-meaning, could ever represent the interests or articulate the aspirations of the developing world". Reminding the NAM members that "only we ourselves can best represent our individual and collective interests", he asked the forum to engage the developed bloc in serious parleys. He cautioned though that "in doing so .., we must be constructive in our approach vis-à-vis our partners in the North".
The bottom line, Mr. Abdullah noted, was that the NAM should "engage and forge strategic alliances with the industrialised countries, including with their international groupings, such as the European Union, with which we share a strong commitment to multilateralism".
Before handing over the `baton' to Malaysia at the NAM ministerial session, the Foreign Minister of South Africa, outgoing NAM Chairman, Dlamini Zuma, emphasised that "multilateralism is critical for our (NAM's) very survival". The movement should, therefore, "assert the centrality of the U.N." in settling matters of collective international security. The NAM's sustainable relevance would depend on such efforts as also its activism in protecting and promoting the economic interests of the developing nations.
About the need to dispel "the gathering clouds of war" which only served to "divert the attention of the international community away from the key question of (economic) development", she discussed "the fundamental principles around the (possible) war against Iraq".
The South African Minister said, "There is no question that Iraq must continue to comply with the U.N. Resolution 1441 and allow the inspectors unlimited and unconditional access." Iraq "must be disarmed if it possesses weapons of mass destruction". In any case, "it is possible and desirable" the issue be settled through "peaceful means".
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