The key question tormenting the Non-Aligned Movement for more than half a century has been how to convert the power of numbers into tangible results.
The answer, however, is rather straightforward. When the Non-Aligned countries fully upheld the Bandung Purposes and Principles, adopted yet in 1955, the Movement proved powerful. But, when the NAM countries fell short of adhering to these strategic guidance – the Movement appeared fractured and helpless.
Last year, at the Tehran Summit we have endorsed the Final Document. It is a fairly ambitious programme which implementation is expected to substantially enhance the Movement’s standing in the world. Yet, given our uneven record of unity and solidarity in the past, there certainly lurks a risk that we may not accomplish the goals set in the programme.
If we want to become a potent center of power in the future, as the Final Document effectively urges us to strive for, the Non-Aligned countries have no alternative but to reclaim the spirit of Bandung.
The current session of the UN General Assembly provides us with a proper window of opportunity to prove that we can do that, above all, in the most controversial area of all, which, in our opinion, is that of human rights.
Just let us ask ourselves: “Why do the Non-Aligned countries constantly find themselves on the defensive when it comes to discussing human rights?” Is it indeed the case that we are the prime culprits here?
We come into this predicament because we fail to grasp collectively that human rights is a useful tool of our Western opponents to promote their own political and economic interests at our expense. What is crucial here is that Western states are united both in this vision and its practical implementation, whereas the Non-Aligned countries far too often have been disunited and incapable of offering a collective response.
As a result, many of Non-Aligned states, particularly those that heed no advice from the West on how to conduct their own domestic and foreign policies, consistently come under pressure. Indeed, it became the exclusive “privilege” of a number of Non-Aligned countries to be subjected to a “flogging” by far-fetched country-specific resolutions on the situation of human rights, invoked either at the UN Human Rights Council or at the UN General Assembly.
Belarus is convinced that we should do our best to put an end to such a state of affairs. Let us bear in mind that the ostensible concern of Western countries about human rights elsewhere except in their own jurisdictions has really nothing to do with the actual situation in this field. As evidenced by various studies, the West’s collective human rights record is not better than ours.
Indeed, we, the Non-Aligned countries, overwhelmingly champion the primacy of economic, social, and cultural rights. Our opponents, in turn, put a high premium on civil and political rights. These different stances have been historically constructed and, hence, cannot easily change. What we need here is cooperation rather than confrontation. Let all of us try to understand how we came to embrace the different perspectives on human rights. I am sure, this will help at least smooth out, if not resolve, our differences.
After all, we should not allow Western countries to continue leveraging the issue of human rights for the purpose of fulfilling their own political and economic interests. We, too, have our own political and economic imperatives, which we, unlike our opponents, do not try to push into the human rights discourse.
So, in light of what has just been said let me most vocally urge the Non-Aligned countries to spare no effort in opposing all country-specific resolutions on human rights at the current session.
If it comes to a vote on this matter, Belarus hopes to see none of Non-Aligned countries voting against their fellow members, as was the case at the recent 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Please remember that for half a century we have invariably stood as a moral force for good in the world. Do not undermine that record by making a compromise with your conscience for the sake of purported promises of benefits from our opponents. Those promises will never compensate for the loss of unity and solidarity that had brought all of us in the Movement in the first place.