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NAM needs to get back into contention

[Global Scrutiny] NON-ALIGNMENT: As should have been expected, it is the Non Aligned Movement's broaching of a sensitive international issue which has prompted the Western transnational media to cast more than a cursory glance at one of this Third World bloc's fora. If not for Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, one wonders whether the Ministerial meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau in Malaysia would have earned even a minimum amount of treatment in the Western media.

However, the NAM's staunch defence of Iran's right to put nuclear power to peaceful uses, clinched for the grouping more than half-hearted treatment by some Western news agencies. The point has thus been proved once again that an issue has to at least verge on the sensational to earn Western media attention. If not the chances are that the affairs of particularly the Third World would be given a deliberate miss.

MALAYSIA : Head of Delegation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) leave the meeting hall after the closing ceremony of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at International Convention Center in Putrajaya, May 30. AFP

This media tendency in regard to NAM has heightened in recent years in view of particularly the characterization by some of NAM as a "spent force." This notion came into vogue in the wake of the crumbling of the Cold War in the late Eighties but it should have been perceived by NAM that it could by no means have been considered a "write-off" on account of the numerous issues the rapid spread of economic globalization threw up over the past two decades, which NAM could have seen as coming under its purview to address and resolve. The aggravation and spread of world poverty is one such issue.

The principal reason for NAM being seen as "spent" and irrelevant is the marked, Cold War context in which it came into being in the middle of the last century. NAM was conceived and organised as an alternative ideological bloc to both the US - led NATO and the Soviet-spearheaded Warsaw Pact. Its function was to steer a "middle path" in world politics and to take up the cause of the developing countries in global economic fora.

What compounded the impression of NAM being irrelevant in the post - Cold War years was the marked indifference of NAM to what was seen as its mandate. Although its political role came to be obscured in the post Cold War years, its identity as an agent of pro-Third World economic change was not. Unfortunately, NAM did not see it this way.

In contrast to the Sixties and Seventies, for instance, of the last century, there is a marked decrease in NAM activism in world economic and other relevant fora at present on account of this loss of vision. In short, NAM has allowed itself to steadily lose visibility on the global stage.

Consequently, economic globalization has marched ahead with its creed of market - driven growth going unchallenged. The reason for this diminishing of the NAM presence could very well be the steady conversion of almost the totality of the Third World to the principle of economic liberalization and the dismantling of State control over national economies.

All in all, NAM has lost sight of some of its priorities and this is one reason why world poverty has increased in the wake of globalization. As mentioned in a previous column by this writer, NAM has also not made itself useful in the resolution of international conflicts featuring its members. Iraq is a case in point.

Whereas NAM should be proactively involved in resolving conflicts and bringing peace, it has receded to the sidelines of world affairs. Small wonder if NAM has lost visibility. The challenge before NAM is to get back into the international spotlight. It will greatly facilitate this task by projecting itself more forcefully in the eyes of the world. In other words, the world should be enlightened on the factual condition of NAM.

As could be seen, the Western media would not be going the "extra mile" to do this for NAM. In fact, NAM's image has suffered as a result of not developing its own media organisations for self-projection. A strong, independent media arm of NAM is the need of the hour for the purpose of raising global awareness of the continuing relevance of this Third World bloc, which was at one time referred to as the "trade union of the poor."




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