Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

Dateline Sharm-el-Sheikh: NAM energised by new discipline, purpose

Less bombast, more focus…

17 July 2009
The Hindu

NAM energised by new discipline, purpose

Siddharth Varadarajan

Sharm-el-Sheikh: For a grouping known by the expansiveness of its rhetoric and the prolixity of its participants, the Non-Aligned Movement seems to have turned a new leaf. Short speeches, more or less tightly woven around the theme of international solidarity for peace and development, were the order of the day and even the opening plenary — normally the stage for lengthy, declaratory pronouncements on weighty matters — ended half-an-hour before the time allotted for it.

Officials from India, Cuba and other NAM countries said it was evident the grouping had undergone a quiet transformation, in part because of the gravity of the financial crisis. “There is a new purposiveness,” a senior Indian official involved in the process of drafting the NAM summit declaration, said to The Hindu on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. “The acrimony quotient is almost absent and most bilateral issues have been kept out.”

The only glimpse of the old NAM was provided by the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who spoke on behalf of the Africa group and occupied the rostrum for much longer than the world leaders who spoke on behalf of Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Speaking with passion, Mr. Gaddafi blamed the West for the problems of global warming, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Capitalist firms had destroyed the ozone layer and now developing countries were being targeted in the name of fighting terrorism. Defending Sudan and its leadership against the indictment handed down by the International Criminal Court over Darfur, the Libyan leader said the NAM should set up its own terrorism court to protect itself from the “terrorism of the ICC.” Is it right that the President of Sudan has been charged? “Will the ICC charge those who killed more than a million Iraqis?”

Waving a copy of the apology which the Italian government recently tendered to Libya for its colonial occupation of the country, he said the half-a-billion dollars Rome had agreed to pay annually was a good example of what was needed in the world. “We should not ask for aid, we should ask for compensation.”

Speaking earlier, Cuban President Raul Castro, in his capacity as chair of the last NAM summit, called for a new monetary and economic world order to take into consideration the needs of developing countries. He also said the NAM should be more active in the field of human rights and non-proliferation. Health also should be a priority, with the need for special focus on decreasing child mortality due to preventable diseases.

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This entry was posted on July 16, 2009 by in Indian Foreign Policy, Nonalignment.

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