Technology and innovation have become key factors which contribute to the economic growth in both advanced and developing economies. In the world of economy, information circulates at the global level through trade in goods and services, direct investment and technology flows, and the movement of people. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been at the heart of economic changes for more than a decade.
ICT sector plays an important role, notably by contributing to rapid technological progress and productivity growth. However, it has been observed that there is a vast digital divide between the developed and the developing countries, and as such the economic and social benefits of the global ICT regime have not been distributed equally among nations. The Non Aligned Movement representing one of the largest groups of the developing countries has constantly undertaken steps to ensure that developing countries modernize and revitalize their economies taking full benefit of advancements in ICTs.
Further, NAM has also stood up against the discriminatory practices and policies that hinder access by developing countries to the benefits of information and communication technologies and to networks established in developed countries. In the Tehran Declaration of 2012, NAM reaffirmed its commitment of ensuring universal, inclusive and non-discriminatory access to information and knowledge related to ICT in order to strengthen all aspects of the information society and the knowledge economy.
NAM stands for a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society based on free and fair information. An example of the above was the meeting of the Governing Council of the Centre for Science and Technology of the Non Aligned and Other Developing Countries (NAM S&T) held at Sandton City, South Africa in September 2013. The event highlighted the significance of South -South cooperation and collective self reliance amongst member states. In the event, India expressed its active commitments towards the achievement of the principles and assured that the country was always ready to expand its scientific engagements and extend support for South- South technological collaboration.
The Non- Aligned Movement stands not only for eliminating the unjust divide in the international economic and political order, but also strives to promote the growth of science and technology among its member states that primarily consist of the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
At the 2015 NAM Ministerial Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development held at Tehran in February, President Rouhani, emphasized that having access to science, technology and innovation was a fundamental right of each country.
The chair echoed the position of the NAM that science and technology lead to the advancement of countries and create the necessary conditions to fight against violence and extremism and work towards peace. Dr. Farhadi, Minister of Science, Research and Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran stressed on the importance of increased South-South cooperation among NAM Member States to promote and further develop their scientific knowledge, and to tackle common challenges such as brain-drain, disease outbreaks, the digital divide and others.
The Non-Aligned Movement has reaffirmed that in order to transform the digital divide to digital opportunities, these activities should ensure the imperative of universal, inclusive and non-discriminatory access to information and knowledge related to ICT, and should result in supporting national efforts in developing countries in the area of building, improving and strengthening capacities to facilitate their genuine involvement in all aspects of the information society and knowledge economy.
NAM has encouraged all the States to contribute actively to ensure that the Information Society is founded on and stimulates respect for cultural identity, cultural and linguistic diversity, traditions and religions and ethical values.
At the Tehran Summit in 2012, NAM gave a call to the developed countries for the full implementation of the commitments in eight priority areas, namely, providing enhanced financial and technical support to develop productive capacities, meeting and reviewing quantitative official development assistance targets for the least developed countries, improving the quality of aid, implementing duty-free quota-free market access, enhancing the share of assistance for Aid for Trade, continuing with the provision of debt relief and the consideration of debt cancellation for the least developed countries in view of the impediment that debt constitutes for their development, implementing investment promotion regimes, enhancing transfer of technology, providing enhanced concessional start-up financing for innovative enterprises in the least developed countries and improving governance at all levels. As the most prominent collective voice of the global South, NAM is striving to promote a New World Information and Communication Order, based on universal, inclusive and non-discriminatory access to information and knowledge relating to ICT, as an essential requirement to reduce the growing digital divide between developed and developing countries.