NAM and the Right to Self-Determination

The principle of self-determination has served as a powerful mechanism for the independence of many peoples, most significantly the independence of colonial peoples, most of whom belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement. United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 on the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples states that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation. The Preamble of this declaration emphasises that the refusal or obstruction of collective freedom brings about the intensification of conflicts. Article 2 states that ‘All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development’. Furthermore, Article 3 states that, ‘Inadequacy of political, economic, social, or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence’.

The Non-Aligned Movement has reaffirmed and underscored the validity and relevance of the Movement’s principled positions concerning the right to self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation or colonial domination. The primary objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement since its inception has focused on the support of self-determination, national independence and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. During the first NAM Summit in Belgrade, participants expressed their convictions that : “all nations have the right of unity, self-determination, and independence by virtue of which right they can determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development without intimidation or hindrance.”

NAM has categorically expressed opposition to apartheid; non-adherence to multilateral military pacts and the independence of non-aligned countries from great power or block influences and rivalries; the struggle against imperialism in all its forms and manifestations; the struggle against colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, foreign occupation and domination.

Consistent with and guided by the afore-mentioned principled positions and affirming the need to preserve, defend and promote these positions, NAM Member States have strongly supported the work and activities of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, and have underlined the necessity of reinforcing the importance of its decisions, along with urging the Administering Powers to grant their full support to the activities of the Committee and fully cooperate with this UN body. At the Tehran NAM Summit of 2012, NAM renewed calls to UN Member States to speed up the process of decolonisation towards the complete elimination of colonialism, and including by supporting the effective implementation of the Plan of Action of the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 65/119.

The UNGA Resolution 65/119 expresses its determination to continue to take all steps necessary to bring about the complete and speedy eradication of colonialism and the faithful observance by all States of the relevant provisions of the Charter, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; NAM has expressed its support to the provisions of the above UNGA resolution, which calls for the States, to provide moral and material assistance, as needed, to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and requests the administering powers to take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economies of those Territories.

At the 17th NAM Summit in Venezuela, NAM Member States in their final declaration stressed upon the inalienable right of all peoples, including those of non-self-governing territories, as well as those of territories under foreign occupation or under colonial or foreign domination, to self-determination. The declaration further reaffirmed the principled position of the Non-Aligned Movement that in the case of peoples who are subject to foreign occupation and colonial or foreign domination, the exercise of self-determination remains valid and essential to securing the eradication of all those situations and ensuring the universal respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. NAM also stated that all options for self-determination is legitimate as long as they comply with the will of the peoples concerned to freely determine their future and in accordance with the principles clearly defined in resolutions of the UN General Assembly.

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