We have seen that the radical Third World project of national and social liberation of the period 1948 to 1979 was formulated by radical Third World governments for the purpose of transforming neocolonial global structures and creating a new international economic order that would: respect the sovereignty of all nations; recognize the right of nations to control their natural resources; accept the right of states to nationalize properties; advance the industrial development of the underdeveloped nations; promote mutually beneficial trade among nations; regulate international financial flows; reduce military expenditures; and eliminate nuclear arms. It was formulated by the giants of the anti-colonial struggles, who met in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955, inspiring the peoples of the world with the “Spirit of Bandung” (see “The Third World Project, 1948-79” 7/20/2016).
We also have seen that the radical Third World project confronted many obstacles, especially the unprincipled opposition of the global powers, who used any and all methods in support of accommodationist Third World leaders, in order to prevent the implementation of the radical Third World project. And we have seen that modest attainments with respect to the social and economic development of the Third World were eliminated during the implementation of neoliberal project of the global powers. The global powers set aside Third World hopes, and the IMF assassinated the national liberation states of the Third World (“IMF & USA attack the Third World project” 7/29/2016).
Fidel, speaking as President of the Non-Aligned Movement, protested the neoliberal turn, and he called for unified struggle among the peoples of the Third World in defense of humanity. But the 1983 New Delhi Summit marked a definitive turn within the Non-Aligned Movement toward accommodation to the neoliberal agenda of the global powers (“Derailing the Third World project” 7/22/2016; “Fidel proposes new global structures, 1983” 7/27/2016).
However, influenced by the rising global popular movement in opposition to neoliberalism, the Non-Aligned Movement began to retake its historic radical Third World project, beginning in 2000, with the presidencies of South Africa and Malaysia. The return was clear by 2006, when Cuba assumed the presidency for a second time. At that time, I was writing an editorial column for La Opinión Hispana, a Spanish-language newspaper in Greenville, South Carolina; and on this basis, I was able to obtain a press credential to attend the NAM Summit in Havana. In my editorial covering the event, I wrote: “During the last two days, presidents and prime ministers took the podium, and they one-by-one expressed their support for the values and principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, their rejection of the established world order, and their appreciation and admiration of Cuba.”
The NAM 2006 Declaration of Havana, endorsed unanimously by the 118 member nations, called for a “more just and equal world order,” and it lamented “the excessive influence of the rich and powerful nations in the determination of the nature and the direction of international relations.” It rejected the neoliberal project as promoting global inequality and increasing the marginalization of countries in development.” It affirmed the principles of the UN Charter, including the equality and sovereignty of nations, the non-intervention in the affairs of other states, and “the free determination of the peoples in their struggle against foreign intervention.” It proclaimed that “each country has the sovereign right to determine its own priorities and strategies for development.” It called for the strengthening and democratic reform of the United Nations, and it proposed South-South cooperation as a complement to North-South cooperation. It rejected the politicization of the issue of human rights, and the double standard used by the global powers, as a pretext for intervening in the affairs of a nation of the Non-Aligned Movement. It proclaimed its support for the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Iran in their conflicts with the global powers. This Declaration against the policies of the global powers and the established structures of the world-system was made by Third World governments that represent 80% of humanity.
Since 2006, the Non-Aligned Movement has maintained its rejection of the established world order, consistent with its founding principles formulated in Bandung in 1955 and Belgrade in 1961. This was evident at the XVII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, held from September 13 to September 18, 2016, in Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, gave the gavel of the presidency to Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela, at the opening ceremony. Venezuela will hold the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement, which now has 120 member nations, until 2019.
The Declaration of the XXVII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement affirms the principles established at its founding meetings in Bandung and Belgrade, including its call to the peoples of the Third World to struggle against colonialism and neocolonialism and to participate in the construction of a more just and peaceful world, established on a foundation of solidarity and cooperation. It reaffirms the historic commitment of the Movement to the principles of the sovereignty and equality of nations and the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination. It affirms “the right to development as an inalienable, fundamental and universal right.”
It maintains that states should not interfere in the affairs of other nations, and accordingly, it rejects “the illegal policies of regime change aimed at overthrowing constitutional Governments, in contravention of international law.” It condemns unilateral sanctions and universal coercive measures as violations of the UN Charter and international law and of the principles of non-intervention and the self-determination and independence of nations. It maintains that each State has the right to freely exercise its full sovereignty over its natural resources and economic activity.
The Declaration recognizes that the implementation of these principles would require “a profound change in the international economic structure, including the creation of economic and social conditions that are favorable to countries in development.” It recognizes South-South cooperation as an important strategy for sustainable development, as a complement to North-South cooperation, which should be oriented to technology transfer and the promotion of productive capacity.
The Declaration calls for the democratization of the United Nations, including the strengthening of the authority of the General Assembly and a reform of the Security Council. It calls for reform of the international financial architecture and the democratization of the IMF and the World Bank.
The Declaration calls for the development of an alternative media of communication that is rooted in the history and cultures of the peoples of the world. It calls upon the mass media of the countries of the North to respect the perspective of the South. It rejects the use of the media as an instrument of hostile propaganda against targeted countries of the South, with the intention of undermining their governments.
The Declaration calls upon the developed countries to fulfill their responsibilities with respect to the threat of climate change. It also affirms the principles of “full gender equality and the empowerment of women,” and it asserts its commitment to “fight against all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.”
Except for the declarations on regime change and the mass media, which are interventionist strategies that have emerged in recent years, these affirmations express the historic fundamental principles and goals of the Non-Aligned Movement. As it did in the period 1955 to 1979, the Non-Aligned Movement today is formulating the basic principles of an alternative international order. In the 1970s, it called for a “New International Economic Order;” nowadays, a “more just, democratic and sustainable world” is envisioned. Then, as now, the Movement calls for a different and more just world-system, and it condemns the global powers for policies that violate the international norms that they themselves have proclaimed. Representing peoples that have been victimized by colonial and neocolonial domination, the leading governments in the Non-Aligned Movement speak with moral authority in defense of their nations and peoples and in opposition to the structures of a world-system that continues to exist on a colonial foundation. They call for its structural transformation, in accordance with the values that humanity has proclaimed.
But unlike the 1970s, the Third World today not only announces its project, but also is taking concrete steps toward its implementation. Today, a number of nations (including China, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua) have proclaimed themselves to be constructing socialism. These nations, in addition to domestic social transformations, have developed foreign policies that are dedicated to the principles of South-South cooperation and mutually beneficial relations, as a necessary foundation for a sustainable world-system. In addition, the largest economies of the semi-periphery, the nations of BRICS, have organized themselves to expand South-South cooperation among themselves and with other nations of the South. And the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has been formed with a commitment to solidarity and mutually beneficial trade. In the 1970s, the more radical nations of the Third World proclaimed the need for a new international order; today, concrete steps are being taken in practice, with the proclaimed support of the 120 governments of the Non-Aligned Movement. The construction of a more just, democratic and sustainable world-system by the formerly colonized peoples of the world has begun.
Moreover, the Third World is beginning to construct an alternative world-system precisely in the historic moment when the world-system is experiencing a profound structural crisis, and heads of core governments and transnational corporations are demonstrating their moral and intellectual incapacity to understand the sources of the crisis or the steps that are necessary to protect humanity. The incapacity of the world-system to understand and resolve its systemic crisis gives increasingly greater legitimacy and viability to the alternative being developed in theory and practice by the peoples of the Third World.
Key words: Non-Aligned Movement, XVII Summit, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela