NAM under Malaysian leadership

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a vast grouping of countries that adhere to common principles in dealing with relationships between states, has been discussing the role of women in the development of their societies for some time. NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.” It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach. At present, an addition goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.

At each Summit, a new Head of State formally becomes the chair, and assumes that position until the next Summit. The chair is responsible for promoting the principles and activities of NAM, and the Foreign Ministry and Permanent Mission in New York of the Chair’s State assumes administrative responsibility. The summit is run by Chairperson elected in the meeting of the last summit. The Chairmanship of the NAM was under Malaysia from 2003-2006. The 13th NAM summit was conducted by the Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur. Under Malaysian leadership important topics from nuclear disarmament to development issues of women were discussed. The two prominent meets held in Malaysia brought about important issues that need to be dealt for brining peace in the world.

The 13th summit focused on various key issues of nuclear disarmament and international security. The summit addressed their great concern at the growing number of unilateral actions and unilaterally imposed prescriptions. The growing race of nuclear arms has been dragging attention of the world especially in the South Asian countries. It was an issue of grave importance to understand the need to keep the urge of racing along in the arms race under control. The 13th summit concentrated on nuclear disarmament and maintenance of international security. It also focused on concern over the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their use or threat of their use against humanity. The summit had a perception of focusing various issues like:

  • Disarmament of nuclear weapons
  • Transparency of Non Proliferation and control agreements over use of nuclear weapons
  • Peaceful uses of Nuclear energy
  • Nuclear weapon free zones
  • Nuclear assurance and security

The summit emphasized that the international situation continues to be marked by rapid and dramatic evolution, presenting numerous opportunities and challenges to the international community and the Non-Aligned Movement. Recent events have again demonstrated that a peaceful, just and secure world continues to elude human kind. Simmering disputes, violent conflicts, aggression and foreign occupation, interference in the domestic affairs of States, policies of hegemony and domination, unilateral and coercive measures, ethnic strife, religious intolerance, xenophobia, new forms of racism and narrowly conceived nationalism pose major and dangerous obstacles to harmonious coexistence among States and peoples and have even led to the disintegration of States and societies.

The summit also discussed about reduction in the expenditure over manufacturing and production of nuclear weapons in accordance with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments, and urged all States to devote resources made available there from to economic and social development, in particular in the fight against poverty. Non-proliferation control agreements should be transparent and open to participation by all States, and should ensure that they do not impose restrictions on access to material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes required by developing countries for their continued development. The summit also welcomed the implementation of UNGA Resolution. Entitled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” and underlined the need for this threat to humanity to be addressed within the [UN] framework and through international NAM.

A need for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument, prohibiting attacks, or threat of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Nuclear weapon free zones need to be made in the countries where they are not present, as it was considered an urgent need of hour. The summit also called for the total and complete prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and the extension of assistance in the nuclear related scientific or technological fields to Israel. The summit also persuades the design of an appropriate international regime for physical protection of radioactive materials during their transportation. The members also discussed upon the appropriate measures to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe upon the sovereignty of States.

Under the Malaysian leadership NAM also discussed issues related to women development. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial Meeting on Woman and Empowerment was conducted on 10th May 2005. Wherein various issues related to women faced by women in the era of globalization were discussed. The need to recognize the participation of women and integration perspectives in all sectors and levels is need of the hour in the world. The Kuala Lumpur meeting showed that for the first time in its 44-year existence, the Non- Aligned Movement had shifted its attention from merely politics to social issues. The conference theme, ‘Empowering Women in Facing the Challenges of Globalization’, reflected the drive in NAM to find new relevance.

Ministers and representatives from about 80 NAM member states attended the meet that was opened by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi who urged the world to focus on the ravages of HIV/AIDS among children and women and the plight of Muslim women whose downtrodden and exploitative state, he said, had remain unchanged or made worse by ignorance, Islamic fundamentalism and the forces of globalization.

The NAM ministerial meeting, participants passed the Putrajaya Declaration – a blueprint for empowering women that included concrete actions and programs to help uplift women in member countries. Malaysia had also proposed the NAM Centre on Gender and Development to enhance women’s empowerment. The centre has to work closely with policymakers, scholars, research centers and other interested groups to stimulate intellectual discussions, promote the exchange of ideas and become a centre for capacity building for women. Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, during the summit, is expected to secure endorsement for its two initiatives – the NAM News Network (NNN) and NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women (NEW).

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and a source of migrant workers, called for national plans and multi-sectoral strategies to combat human trafficking. East Timor, the smallest and least developed NAM member country, also sought help in many sectors. A report presented to the ministerial meeting stated that knowledge about HIV/AIDS is poor in the world’s newest nation. Gender-based violence, especially domestic violence is serious and widespread, affecting both women and children. Women in the island-nation, which became independent from Indonesia in May 2002, were discriminated against in land inheritance laws. The protection of women’s rights and their empowerment is the key to the progress of any nation. Giving them respect as women, a voice, and equal access to services and assets – most critically land and finance – is essential not only for their advancement but for that of the whole nation.

The contribution of the Malaysian leadership has been enormous for the NAM progress. The summit heaved the attention of the world towards nuclear threat to the NAM countries and concerned over the illicit transfer, manufacture, and circulation of small arms and light weapons. It was the first time that NAM turned towards social issues than political ones, discussing the social problems faced by women in developing and developed countries. Special attention was given to the women in the armed conflict zones. The health and safety of women were discussed and solutions were brought out. Development and promotion of women’s, rights to equality and access to natural resources and assets for progress of the state overall. The summit focused on correcting the imbalance between rural women’s responsibilities on the one hand, and their rights and resources on the other it is essential to make progress towards reducing hunger, thus, eventually achieving the goal NAM of satisfaction, progress and peace.

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