The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
The movement is largely the brainchild of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, President of Egypt Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. It was founded in Belgrade (1961); as of 2009, it has 118 members and 19 observer countries.
The purpose of the organization as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.”
They represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’ members and comprise 55% of the world population, particularly countries considered to be developing or part of the third world.
Members have, at various times, included: Yugoslavia, Argentina, SWAPO, Cyprus and Malta. Brazil has never been a formal member of the movement, but shares many of the aims of NAM and frequently sends observers to the Non-Aligned Movement’s summits.
While the organization was intended to be as close an alliance as NATO (1949) or the Warsaw Pact (1955), it has little cohesion and many of its members were actually quite closely aligned with one or another of the great powers.
Additionally, some members were involved in serious conflicts with other members (e.g. India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq). The movement fractured from its own internal contradictions when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. While the Soviet allies supported the invasion, other members (particularly Islamic nations) of the movement did hot.
Because the Non-Aligned Movement was formed as an attempt to thwart the Cold War, it has struggled to find relevance since the Cold War ended. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a founding member, its membership was suspended in 1992 at the regular Ministerial Meeting of the Movement, held in New York during the regular yearly session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
At the Summit of the Movement in Jakarta, Indonesia (September 1, 1992 – September 6, 1992) Yugoslavia was suspended or expelled from the Movement. The successor states of the SFR Yugoslavia have expressed little interest in membership, though some have observer status.
In 2004, Malta and Cyprus ceased to be members and joined the European Union. Belarus remains the sole member of the Movement in Europe. Turkmenistan, Belarus and Dominican Republic are the most recent entrants. The application of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Costa Rica were rejected in 1995 and 1998.