How Azerbaijan Revitalized the Non-Aligned Movement
During the Cold War, the bifurcation of international politics between the two camps led by the Soviet Union and the United States led to the emergence of the bloc of non-aligned Third World countries that sought to ensure their survival in this hostile environment. These countries refused to join any military bloc and their third conference in 1970 called for the “dissolution of great power military alliances” for world peace and security. This bloc, known as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since the fifth conference of member countries in 1976, is said to have lost its relevance after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s.
Quite the opposite of these analyses, a new need for the NAM has emerged in recent years, as international politics has gradually succumbed to the resumption of the divide in international politics between the United States and its allies, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other. The other. With the start of the Russian-Ukrainian War in February 2022, this standoff resulted in dramatic global economic ramifications and the revitalization of non-alignment as a security strategy and the Non-Aligned Movement as a bloc to pursue this strategy for many countries in-between this confrontation. The NAM, under the chairmanship of Azerbaijan since 2019, has made remarkable progress in becoming an influential international player, loudly expressing the voice of its 120 member countries.
Azerbaijan has taken a number of initiatives during its chairmanship to coordinate cooperation among member states, strengthen the values of multilateralism and international cooperation, and revitalize the institution. The first year of the Azerbaijani presidency (2020) coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Baku has made various efforts to bring member countries together in tackling the ramifications of the crisis for their economies and prosperity. At the initiative of the Azerbaijani government, for the first time in the history of the NAM, the movement held an extraordinary summit of member states on May 4, 2020, which was attended virtually by more than forty-five member states and international organizations. The president of the seventy-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, the chairperson of the African Union Commission and the director-general of the World Health Organization were among the leaders who addressed the summit and endorsed the initiative.
Demonstrating its readiness and readiness to play a leading role in the global fight against national selfishness, unilateralism and protectionism, Azerbaijan, within the framework of its proposals to the virtual NAM summit, also called for a special session of the United Nations General Assembly. The initiative was supported by more than 150 UN Member States and took place on December 3-4, 2020. “This special session of the General Assembly is a historic moment for Member States, the United Nations, the scientific community and other stakeholders,” Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said at the opening of the two-day gathering.
As chairman of the movement, one of Azerbaijan’s main objectives is to prepare the basis for the eventual institutionalization of the NAM as a well-established international organization. Baku has come up with some successful initiatives to this end. The launch of the parliamentary network and the network of young people of the MNA on the initiative of Baku is a significant step in this direction. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has also, with the support of member states, approved the establishment of a NAM support office in New York. “I think now is the right time to take more steps towards institutional development and this, in turn, will help us defend our interests in the international arena and strengthen solidarity between our countries,” he said. he added.
A big challenge on this path is the existence of conflicts between some members of the movement. This not only impedes the rapid institutionalization of the bloc, but also weakens efforts to make the movement’s single voice heard on major geopolitical issues across the globe. “I know there are some problems between some member states. I think NAM can be a platform to find a solution to these problems,” Aliyev stressed on June 30.
However, although it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the resolution of all these inter-state conflicts within the NAM, the experience of Azerbaijan during its war with Armenia (non member of the NAM) ended 2020 has demonstrated that the bloc can be very effective in quickly consolidating its efforts and showing solidarity in the face of the great challenges faced by one or a group of fellow members.
During the war, known as the Second Karabakh War or Forty-Four Day War, three permanent members of the UN Security Council – France, the United States and Russia – attempted to pass a resolution which would be contrary to the vital interests of Azerbaijan. , as it would have no reference to previous Council resolutions in 1993 which called for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan. “But, our friends, members of the NAM, at that time members of the UN Security Council, blocked an anti-Azerbaijani statement and blocked the attempted accusation against Azerbaijan and therefore did not allow the global pro-Armenian forces to attack Azerbaijan”, President Aliyev reminded in his address to the NAM Parliamentary Network.
Faced with an increasingly conflicting international policy, this solidarity between the members of the NAM would be essential to ensure their security and defend their national interests. Azerbaijan’s efforts to strengthen the movement, promote closer ties and cooperation among member states, and its institutionalization efforts are therefore of great importance and have significant potential to yield positive results.
Dr. Vasif Huseynov is Head of Department at the International Relations Analysis Center (AIR Center) and Assistant Lecturer at Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan.