Belarus and the Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was founded in 1961 with the view to advancing interests of developing countries in the context of Cold War confrontation. In its first three decades, the Movement played a crucial role in decolonization, formation of new independent states, and democratization of international relations.
At present, the NAM consists of 120 States that account for about 60% of the United Nations overall membership.
The Non-Aligned Movement aspires to occupy a niche of a political gathering that seeks to oppose West’s unilateral approaches and actions on the global stage.
The majority of NAM Member States tend to hold fast to objective and comprehensive appraisals of international situations. The Movement places a particular emphasis on grave challenges that threaten economic development and social progress, international peace and security, rule of international law, in addition to focusing on restricted access to resources and the use of pressure in its various forms, when it comes to prioritizing among major features of the current international conjuncture,
The Republic of Belarus has joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1998. Since then and until the NAM’ XVI Ministerial Conference (May 2011, Indonesia), Belarus was the only European Member State in the Movement (Azerbaijan has joined NAM at the above Conference).
Co-operation with the Non-Aligned Movement in general, as well as with its key Member States is a vital component for Belarus in the pursuit of its national interests.
Participation in the Movement enables Belarus to receive political support from like-minded countries at the international arena, above all, at the United Nations. The factor of support is of a particular significance given that many crucial decisions in the UN system are adopted through a vote.
It is the Non-Aligned partners, which help Belarus advance and protect its foreign policy interests with success at the global stage and at various multilateral fora. The most striking, essentially, the classic example can be traced to the fall of 2004, when Belarus effectively used NAM’s potential at the UN General Assembly to defeat (for the first time ever in UN history) the US-sponsored and Western-backed draft resolution that targeted Belarus.
Over the past few years, Non-Aligned countries have become the most reliable partners of Belarus in the latter’s efforts to promote its major foreign policy initiatives, like recognition of the diversity of ways towards progressive development, establishment of global partnerships, fight against human trafficking, and some others. Belarus’ initiatives have been reflected in a number of NAM’s strategic documents, like, for instance, in the Outcome Documents of the XV Summit (Egypt, 2009), the XVI Ministerial Conference (Indonesia, 2011), the Ministerial meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau (Egypt, 2012), and the Movement’s XVI Summit (Iran, 2012).
Within the Movement Belarus staunchly stands for the primacy of international law and is keen not only to advance its own national interests, but is also actively engaged in efforts aimed at making the Movement itself more robust and enhancing its role in geopolitical developments. Such a stance, undoubtedly, serves to boost our country’s image among Non-Aligned states.
The economic benefits that Belarus gains from membership in the Movement are evident, too. Even though the economic agenda cannot take the upper hand in the Movement due to the political nature of its construction, Belarus has been steadily expanding trade and economic ties with Non-Aligned countries. Since 1998, Belarus has been confidently gaining access to the markets of Non-Aligned partners in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Co-operation with these countries helps Belarus address such vital objective as ensuring its energy security through diversification of incoming energy sources. Moreover, the presence on the markets of NAM countries creates proper conditions for moving also to the markets of their neighbors.
Starting from 1998, Belarus has been actively participating in all NAM events and doing its best to bring to all of them a high degree of added value. The Republic of Belarus could be assigned to a group of most proactive NAM countries, often setting the atmosphere and pace of deliberation at many negotiations, summits, and other NAM-hosted events.
In 2011, the Non-Aligned Movement has marked its 50th anniversary. On this occasion the NAM has organized a number of special events, which have focused both on the assessment of its past activities, as well as on the prospects of Movement’s work in years and decades to come.
In late May 2011, Indonesia hosted the XVI Ministerial Conference, whereas in early September, Serbia welcomed Movement’s Member States to just another Ministerial Conference that was directly dedicated to the NAM’ half-centenary anniversary.
Belarus has used both events to bring to their participants its own vision of NAM’ role and place in the world. The principled approaches of Belarus have been included in the relevant Outcome Documents. Specifically, its proposals became part of the NAM’s ambitious long-term program of action titled “Our Shared Vision for the Next 50 Years” adopted in Indonesia.
Likewise, Belarus has been pro-active in the Movement’s major events in 2012 – the Ministerial meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau and the XVI Summit of the Movement. In the run up to the Summit the Movement, at the initiative of Belarus, has held so broad discussion ever on the issue of energy. Belarus’ specific proposals on energy have been reflected in the Summit’s Outcome Document.
The mood evinced at the Movement’s meetings over the past few years suggests that NAM Member States see the need to contribute to a more equitable multipolar world, as well as concentrate their common efforts on advancing their own interests in the context of a fast-paced globalization, rising conflict potential, and overt rivalry among global centers of power over energy resources and markets.