AskDefine | Define nonaligned

Dictionary Definition

nonaligned adj : not affiliated with any faction, party, or cause [ant: aligned]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Not allied with any particular nation, or to any side in a dispute; neutral or impartial.


not allied

Extensive Definition

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. It was founded in April 1955; as of 2007, it has 118 members. The purpose of the organization as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics." They represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations's members and comprise 55 percent of the world population, particularly countries considered to be developing or part of the third world’.
Important members have, at various times, included: Yugoslavia, India, Ghana, Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, post-1994 South Africa, Iran, Malaysia, and, for a time, the People's Republic of China. Brazil has never been a formal member of the movement, but shares many of the aims of NAM and frequently sends observers to the Non-Aligned Movement's summits. While the organization was intended to be as close an alliance as NATO or the Warsaw Pact, it has little cohesion and many of its members were actually quite closely aligned with one or another of the great powers. For example, Cuba was closely aligned with the former Soviet Union during the Cold War era. India was effectively aligned with the Soviet Union against China for many years. Additionally, some members were involved in serious conflicts with other members (e.g. India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq). The movement fractured from its own internal contradictions when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. While the Soviet allies supported the invasion, other members (particularly Islamic nations) of the movement did not.
The Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to find relevance since the end of the Cold War. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a founding member, its successor states of Yugoslavia have expressed little interest in membership though some have observer status. In 2004, Malta and Cyprus ceased to be members and joined the European Union.

The origin of the Non-Aligned Movement

Independent countries were also known as nonaligned nations. Some nations, such as India and Indonesia, were able to maintain their neutrality. But others took sides with the superpowers or played competing sides against each other.
The term "Non-Alignment" itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Nehru during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In this speech, Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations, which were first put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:
  • Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
  • Mutual non-aggression
  • Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • Peaceful co-existence
A significant milestone in the development of the Non-aligned movement was the 1955 Bandung Conference, a conference of Asian and African states hosted by Indonesian president Sukarno. The attending nations declared their desire not to become involved in the Cold War and adopted a "declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation", which included Nehru's five principles.
Six years after Bandung, an initiative of Yugoslav president Tito led to the first official Non-Aligned Movement Summit, which was held in September 1961 in Belgrade.
The founding fathers of the Non-aligned movement, apart from Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia and Tito of Yugoslavia, were Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Their actions were known as The Initiative of Five.

Organizational Structure & Membership

While the NAM is an organization of united countries, much like the United Nations or NATO, it is unique to some of these organizations in its organization and structure. First, it considers itself to be non-hierarchal in nature in that there are no countries that contain veto power or have special privileges in certain areas. The chair is rotated officially at each summit. The administration of the organization falls to the responsibility of a rotating chair (currently Cuba) and the rotation is consistent and fair. Secondly, the organization does not have any sort of constitution as many similar organizations do. This was done out of recognition that with so many countries having so many varying viewpoints and priorities, any formal sort of administrative structure would increase divisiveness and eventually lead to the collapse of the organization.
Membership in the organization has changed from the original requirements as well. As the organization has matured and international political circumstances have changed, so too have the requirements. There is an obvious attempt to integrate the requirements of the NAM with the key beliefs of the United Nations. The latest requirements are now that the candidate country has displayed practices in accordance with:
  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations.

Ongoing Policies and Ideology

From the 1960s onwards, critics came to see the movement as unduly dominated by states allied to the Soviet Union. Many questioned how countries in close alliance with the Soviet Union, such as Cuba, could claim to be non-aligned. The movement divided against itself over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. This division was an indication that the NAM was indeed aligned, and it is possible that an organization of this nature can never be fully non-aligned.
In contrast, The Non-aligned movement believes in policies and practices of cooperation, especially those that are multilateral and provide mutual benefit to all those involved. Many of the members of the NAM are also members of the United Nations and both organizations have a stated policy of peaceful cooperation, yet successes that the NAM has had in multilateral agreements tends to be ignored by the larger, western and developed nation dominated UN. African concerns about apartheid were linked with Arab-Asian concerns about Palestine and success of multilateral cooperation in these areas has been a stamp of moderate success for the NAM. The NAM has played a major role in various ideological conflicts throughout its existence, including extreme opposition to apartheid regimes and support of liberation movements in various locations including Zimbabwe and South Africa. The support of these sorts of movements stems from a belief that every state has the right to base policies and practices with national interests in mind and not as a result of relations to a particular power bloc. The Non-aligned movement has become a voice of support for issues facing developing nations and is still contains ideals that are legitimate within this context.

Current Activities and Positions

Anti-American Sentiments
In recent years the US has become a target of the organization. The singular superpower and global hegemon, the US’ invasion of Iraq, its attempts to stifle Iran and North Korea’s nuclear plans, and its other actions have been denounced as human rights violations and attempts to run roughshod over the sovereignty of smaller nations. The movement’s leaders have also criticized the US’ overt control over the United Nations and other international structures, and the war on terrorism. While the organization has rejected terrorism, it condemns the association of terrorism with a particular religion, nationality, or ethnicity, and recognizes the rights of those struggling against colonialism and foreign occupation.
The movement has taken a firm position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, denouncing Israel’s occupation of the contested Palestinian territories. It has called upon Israel to halt its settlement activities, open up border crossings, and cease the use of force and violence against civilians. The UN has also been asked to pressure Israel and to do more to prevent further human rights abuses.
Southern Development
The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state. Issues such as globalization, the debt burden, unfair trade practices, the decline in foreign aid, donor conditionalities, and the lack of democracy in international financial decision-making are cited as factors inhibiting development.
Reforms of the UN
The Non-Aligned Movement has been quite outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, mostly in how the organization has been utilized by powerful states in ways that violate the movement’s principles. It has made a number of recommendations that would strengthen the representation and power of ‘non-aligned’ states. The proposed reforms are also aimed at improving the transparency and democracy of UN decision-making. The UN Security Council is the element considered the most distorted, undemocratic, and in need of reshaping.
South-South Cooperation
Lately the Non-Aligned Movement has collaborated with other organizations of the developing world, primarily the Group of 77, forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and document representing the shared interests of both groups. This dialogue and cooperation can be taken as an effort to increase the global awareness about the organization and bolster its political clout.
Cultural Diversity and Human Rights
The movement accepts the universality of human rights and social justice, but fiercely resists cultural homogenization. In line with its views on sovereignty, the organization appeals for the protection of cultural diversity, and the tolerance of the religious, socio-cultural, and historical particularities that define human rights in a specific region.
Working Groups, Taskforces, Committees
  • High-Level Working Group for the Restructuring of the United Nations
  • Working Group on Human Rights
  • Working Group on Peace-Keeping Operations
  • Working Group on Disarmament
  • Committee on Palestine
  • Task Force on Somalia
  • Non-Aligned Security Caucus
  • Standing Ministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation
  • Joint Coordinating Committee (chaired by Chairman of G-77 and Chairman of NAM)

Contemporary Relevance

Since the end of the Cold War and the formal end of colonialism, the Non-aligned movement has been forced to redefine itself and reinvent its purpose in the current world system. A major question has been whether many of its foundational ideologies, principally national independence, territorial integrity, and the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, can be applied to contemporary issues. The movement has emphasized its principles of multilateralism, equality, and mutual non-aggression in attempting to become a stronger voice for the global South, and an instrument that can be utilized to promote the needs of member nations at the international level and strengthen their political leverage when negotiating with developed nations. In its efforts to advance Southern interests, the movement has stressed the importance of cooperation and unity amongst member states, but as in the past, cohesion remains a problem since the size of the organization and the divergence of agendas and allegiances present the ongoing potential for fragmentation. While agreement on basic principles has been smooth, taking definitive action vis-à-vis particular international issues has been rare, with the movement preferring to assert its criticism or support rather than pass hard-line resolutions. The movement continues to see a role for itself, as in its view, the world’s poorest nations remain exploited and marginalized, no longer by opposing superpowers, but rather in a uni-polar world, and it is Western hegemony and neo-colonialism that that the movement has really re-aligned itself against. It opposes foreign occupation, interference in internal affairs, and aggressive unilateral measures, but it has also shifted to focus on the socio-economic challenges facing member states, especially the inequalities manifested by globalization and the implications of neo-liberal policies. The non-aligned movement has identified economic underdevelopment, poverty, and social injustices as growing threats to peace and security.


  • First Conference - Belgrade, September 1-6, 1961
  • Second Conference - Cairo, October 5-10, 1964
  • Third Conference - Lusaka, September 8-10, 1970
  • Fourth Conference - Algiers, September 5-9, 1973
  • Fifth Conference - Colombo, August 16-19, 1976
  • Sixth Conference - Havana, September 3-9, 1979
  • Seventh Conference - New Delhi, march 7-12, 1983
  • Eighth Conference - Harare, September 1-6, 1986
  • Ninth Conference - Belgrade, September 4-7, 1989
  • Tenth Conference - Jakarta, September 1-7, 1992
  • Eleventh Conference - Cartagena de Indias, October 18-20, 1995
  • Twelfth Conference - Durban, September 2-3, 1998
  • Thirteenth Conference - Kuala Lumpur, February 20-25, 2003
  • Fourteenth Conference - Havana, September 15-16, 2006

Secretaries General

Between summits, the Non-Aligned Movement is run by the Secretary general elected at last summit meeting. As a considerable part of the movement's work is undertaken at the United Nations in New York, the chair country's ambassador to the UN is expected to devote time and effort to matters concerning the Non-Aligned Movement. A Co-ordinating Bureau, also based at the UN, is the main instrument for directing the work of the movement's task forces, committees and working groups.

Member Countries and Representatives


The following nations have observer status:

See also

External links


nonaligned in Arabic: حركة عدم الانحياز
nonaligned in Azerbaijani: Bitərəf Dövlətlər Hərəkatı
nonaligned in Bosnian: Pokret nesvrstanih
nonaligned in Czech: Hnutí nezúčastněných zemí
nonaligned in Danish: De alliancefrie landes bevægelse
nonaligned in German: Bewegung der blockfreien Staaten
nonaligned in Spanish: Movimiento de Países No Alineados
nonaligned in Esperanto: Senalianca Movado
nonaligned in Persian: جنبش عدم تعهد
nonaligned in French: Mouvement des non-alignés
nonaligned in Hindi: गुटनिरपेक्ष आन्दोलन
nonaligned in Croatian: Pokret nesvrstanih
nonaligned in Indonesian: Gerakan Non-Blok
nonaligned in Italian: Movimento dei Non-Allineati
nonaligned in Hebrew: המדינות הבלתי-מזדהות
nonaligned in Kannada: ಅಲಿಪ್ತ ಚಳುವಳಿ
nonaligned in Macedonian: Движење на неврзаните
nonaligned in Malayalam: ചേരിചേരാ പ്രസ്ഥാനം
nonaligned in Malay (macrolanguage): Pergerakan Negara-Negara Berkecuali
nonaligned in Dutch: Organisatie van Niet-gebonden Landen
nonaligned in Japanese: 非同盟
nonaligned in Norwegian: Organisasjonen av alliansefrie nasjoner
nonaligned in Polish: Ruch państw niezaangażowanych
nonaligned in Portuguese: Movimento Não-Alinhado
nonaligned in Russian: Движение неприсоединения
nonaligned in Slovak: Hnutie nezúčastnených krajín
nonaligned in Slovenian: Gibanje neuvrščenih
nonaligned in Serbian: Покрет несврстаних
nonaligned in Serbo-Croatian: Pokret nesvrstanih
nonaligned in Finnish: Sitoutumattomien maiden liike
nonaligned in Swedish: De alliansfria staternas organisation
nonaligned in Vietnamese: Phong trào không liên kết
nonaligned in Turkish: Bağlantısızlar Hareketi
nonaligned in Ukrainian: Рух неприєднання
nonaligned in Chinese: 不结盟运动

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Laodicean, apathetic, autarchic, autarkic, autonomous, centrist, even, fifty-fifty, free-spirited, freewheeling, half-and-half, impartial, independent, indifferent, individualistic, inner-directed, midway, moderate, neuter, neutral, noncommitted, nonpartisan, on the fence, passive, self-contained, self-dependent, self-determined, self-directing, self-governed, self-governing, self-reliant, self-subsistent, self-sufficient, self-supporting, sovereign, third-force, third-world, uncommitted, uninvolved
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