President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is leading calls for the creation of a new global financial architecture that will have the capacity to insulate more vulnerable countries in the developing world in the future from the maelstrom caused by the present financial crisis.
In his address at the XV Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik, the President said that ‘the worldwide financial and economic crisis have affected all of us and have placed all economies under tremendous strain’.
Amidst calls for a fair and more equitable financial system, as well as a restructured UN Security Council that will reflect the true demographic of member states; pundits have equally lined up to question the relevance of this organisation in a globalised world and the new international system.
At this critical conjuncture of international politics and global financial crisis, the calls for ‘die or reform’ with respect to NAM cannot be more urgent.
Also, with the election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the US on a platform of change in domestic and international politics, and the unprecedented global financial crisis in one hundred years; some experts of international politics consider this period as a propitious moment for a re-launch of NAM as a potent force for third world development.
However, NAM as an organisation that was created to represent a rejection of the prognostic nostrums of the Free Market West and the Socialist East during the cold war, has struggle to find its locus since the end of that existential threat and bipolarity.
It must now conjure up a new trajectory and recalibrate itself to fit into the new international political architecture of unipolarity on the one hand, and the emergence of China as the new economic super power.
Some experts also of international politics have even argued that the global architecture is increasingly gravitating towards multi-polarity due to the recent phenomenal economic and technological development of the New Developed Countries (NDC) – led by China, India and Brazil. In fact China is the second biggest economy in the world based on purchasing power and India the fourth. Britain and France are battling for sixth.
It is against this background that Zuma, a scion of the progenitors of NAM – Nehru of India, Nkrumah of Ghana, Tito of the now defunct Yugoslavia and Sukomo of Indonesia – when it was formed at the conference of Belgrade in 1961 is now calling for a revamped NAM that needs to redefine itself.
It must be reconfigured and revitalised so that it can step up a rung or two in the new international system in order to face up to the challenges of globalisation and its impact on developing countries.
The president rightly inveighs at the weaknesses of the UN system and its undemocratic structure. He said that ‘during our two year tenure as an elected member to the United Nations Security Council, we experienced firsthand its inability to protect the weak and the vulnerable’.
A pertinent observation this, ardent followers of the forty eight years history of NAM will however argue – with a greater degree of justification – that the archives of the organisation is littered with such vacuous pronouncements and observations. It is now time for NAM to extricate itself from the platform of cold war rhetoric and the outdated declarations and condemnations that are trotted out every three years to no effect.
At a time when the world is convulsed by the worst economic disaster, NAM should now transmute itself into a proactive organisation that is capable of challenging and reforming bodies like the reactionary Bretton Woods institutions – the IMF and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development aka World Bank – and the impotent UN Security Council.
Leaders like Zuma of South Africa and Manmohan Singh of India must now lead the way for the re-creation of a new organisation that will move away from the fetters of super-power politics that reduced NAM into a pointless fandangle during the Cold War. There is no gainsaying that NAM during the Cold War was a huge paradox with most of its leaders comprehensively suborned by the USSR and USA.
Few, if not none, could claim a total non-alignment to the super-powers during that period. Without dwelling too much into ancient history, it is now time for NAM to come up with tangible policies that could change the fortunes of countries in the developed world that have been so comprehensively pinioned by a myopic free market ideology that has been allowed to run amok unchallenged in the so called third world.
NAM should now come up with economic policies that could challenge the basic assumption of neo-classical economics i.e. that everyone is driven by self interest and nothing else.
After eight years of the world been bullied and fed with the soi-disant realism of the neo-conservatives in the White House based on the ancient Manichean mendacity of the state of evil versus the state of good; NAM should now be rekindled as a potent force for development and not a podium for reading the obsequies for the ‘death’ of western capitalism.
This organisation of 119 members with more than half of the world population, and eighty five percent of oil resources, should now convert its demographic advantage over other organisations to pursue some of the noble ideals on which it was founded and also face up to the current global challenges like the international action against poverty, environmental destruction, nuclear proliferation, international terrorism, untrammelled economic profligacy and the spread of small arms.
As an organisation that was formed to counter the proselytizing of the two super powers in the Cold War, NAM must now re-define itself pronto or continue in a state of perpetual funk.