Kenneth Kaunda: A pioneer of the Non-Aligned Ideology

“Non-aligned countries feel the urge to intensify their search for an international system which guarantees peace and security and provides protection for their independence and maximum freedom to develop their economic and social systems. There is, therefore, nothing irrational about the advocates of non-alignment. The actions of non-aligned countries are natural and justified”

Kenneth Kaunda during his address to the 1970 NAM Lusaka Summit

Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia, passed away on June 17, 2021. He was one of the major voices of the Non-Aligned Movement in its early days articulating an international order that took into account the aspirations of the developing world, a large number of which were newly independent states from the colonial rule. He was a pioneer of the anti-colonial movements of the 1960 and a champion of anti-apartheid struggles. Kaunda was the first democratically-elected president of Zambia after the country formerly known as Northern Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1964. His life was a constant struggle against colonialism and apartheid.

Kaunda was a staunch supporter of the Non-Aligned Movement. Kaunda was NAM’s chairman from 1970 to 1973 and under his leadership, Lusaka successfully hosted the Third Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1970. By this time, the NAM summit Conference had become a means whereby the Third World countries were able to assert their independence from superpower politics during the Cold War era. In opening the Conference, Kaunda said inter alia that he: believed it was appropriate that the Conference should be held in Zambia for five reasons. First, Zambia was a young country and, second, a developing country. Third, Zambia was landlocked but still determined to preserve and defend its independence and further its objectives. Fourthly, he stated: “Our geographical proximity to countries under colonial rule and oppression by minority regimes has given us special experience in nation-building”. In the fifth place.

Kaunda referred to Zambia’s commitment to the principles and ideals of non-alignment and world peace. As such, the Lusaka Declaration on Peace, Independence, Development, Cooperation and Democratization of International Relations adopted after the 1970 Summit reflected this principled stand of the developing world and had an imprint of Kaunda’s ideology. The Declaration stated: “The policy of non-alignment has emerged as the result of the determination of independent countries to safeguard their nations’ independence and the legitimate rights of their peoples. The growth of nonalignment into a broad international movement cutting across racial, regional and other barriers, is an integral part of significant changes in the structure of the entire international community. This is the product of the world anti-colonial revolution and of the emergence of a large number of newly-liberated countries which, opting for an independent political orientation and development, have refused to accept the replacement of centuries-old forms of subordination by new ones. At the root of these changes lies the very more clearly expressed aspiration of nations for freedom, independence and equality, and their determination to resist all forms of oppression and exploitation”.
The Lusaka Declaration reaffirmed the importance of the “right of the peoples who are not yet free to freedom, self-determination and independence; respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States; the right of all States to equality and active participation in international affairs; the right of all sovereign nations to determine, in full freedom, the paths of their internal political, economic, social and cultural development; the right of all peoples to the benefits of economic development and the fruits of the scientific and technological revolution; refraining from the threat or use of force; and the principle of peaceful settlement of dispute”.

Kaunda believed that it was essential for the Non-Aligned and developing countries to seek an effective strategy for their own development. centred around economic, financial and technical-cooperation. Kaunda remarked during the Lusaka Summit: “We do not seek to dictate changes in the pattern of international relations. What we seek is unity through economic and technical cooperation to prevent the stronger nations from imposing their will on us separately or collectively. We seek place of honour and respect in the world. This is not an unreasonable demand; it is natural and fundamental to a people engaged in a genuine search for a better world order”.

By Dr. Pawan Mathur

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