Countries with a strategic and political position of neutrality (non-alignment) towards major powers, specifically the USA and former USSR. The movement emerged in the 1960s during the Cold War
between East and West 194989. Although originally used by poorer states, the non-aligned position was later adopted by oil-producing nations. Its 113 members hold more than half the world's population and 85% of oil resources, but only 7% of global GDP (1995).
Origins of the movement
During the Cold War, between the USSR and Eastern Europe on the one hand and the USA and Western Europe on the other, the world split into two camps. However, during the 1960s a third camp, the non-aligned movement emerged. Made up of countries that had gained independence from the European empires in the period after World War II, the movement tried to act as a stabilizing force between the two superpower blocs, as well as giving its members a more powerful voice through unity.
The origins of the movement lay in the 1955 Bandung Conference, Indonesia, at which Asian and African states met to find common ground and agreement for future cooperation, and proclaimed anti-colonialism and neutrality between East and West power blocs. The movement was founded by the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru
, Ghana's prime minister Kwame Nkrumah
, Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser
, Indonesia's president Achmed Sukarno
, and Yugoslavia's president Tito
. Leaders from 25 countries attended the first official meeting of the non-aligned movement at the Belgrade Conference, Yugoslavia, in 1961.
Non-alignment in the Cold War
During the Cold War, members of the non-aligned movement were often the targets of US imperialism
and Soviet imperialism
, as both the USA and Soviet Union tried to attract non-aligned countries into their respective camps. Monetary aid was given to development projects, such as the Soviet funding of Egypt's Aswan High Dam project during the 1960s. The non-aligned movement was not a strongly unified group like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) or the Warsaw Pact
, and its members were weaker economically and militarily than the superpower blocs. Therefore, although its members were able to increase their status through unity and cooperative voting in the UN General Assembly, they were never able to challenge the dominance of the two superpowers.
After the Cold War
Membership of the non-aligned movement grew from 25 states in 1961 to 113 members and 17 observer states in 2000. The movement's members are drawn from Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Yugoslavia (until 1992) and Malta are the only European members of the non-aligned movement. Conferences are now held every three years. The movement has no permanent secretariat.
With the end of the Cold War, the chief issues promoted by the movement have been international action against poverty, environmental destruction, nuclear testing, and drug-trafficking. The eleventh conference, held in October 1995 at Cartagena, Columbia, was attended by delegates and heads of state from 113 developing countries, including the South African president Nelson Mandela
, the Cuban president Fidel Castro, and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Yassir Arafat
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