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The Non-Aligned Movement: Background Information

Index

1. General Background

1.1 History
1.2 NAM Summits at a glance

2. NAM Structure and Organisation

2.1 Coordination
2.2 Coordinating Bureau
2.3 Coordination of the Coordinating Bureau and role of the Chair
2.4 Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees
2.5 Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus
2.6 Joint Coordinating Committee
2.7 Coordination of Non-Aligned countries in other UN centres
2.8 The Troika
2.9 Group of past, present and future Chairs (Group of Ten)
2.10 Panel of Economists
2.11 Documentation
2.12 Decision making by consensus

3. Format and Frequency of Meetings

3.1 Conference of Heads of State or Government
3.2 Ministerial Conference
3.3 Ministerial Meetings in New York during Sessions of the UN General Assembly
3.4 Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau
3.5 Meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Methodology
3.6 Standing Ministerial Committee on Economic Cooperation
3.7 Ministerial Meetings in various fields of International Cooperation
3.8 Extraordinary Meetings of the Coordinating Bureau
3.9 Meetings of the working groups, task forces, contact groups and committees

4. Member States and Other Participants

4.1 Member States
4.2 Observers
4.3 Observer organisations
4.4 Guest countries
4.5 Guest organisations

Annexure


1. General Background

1.1 History

The first Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State, at which 25 countries were represented, was convened at Belgrade in September 1961, largely through the initiative of Yugoslavian President Tito. He had expressed concern that an accelerating arms race might result in war between the Soviet Union and the USA.

Subsequent conferences involved ever-increasing participation by developing countries. The 1964 Conference in Cairo, with 47 countries represented, featured widespread condemnation of Western colonialism and the retention of foreign military installations. Thereafter, the focus shifted away from essentially political issues, to the advocacy of solutions to global economic and other problems.

1.2 NAM Summits at a glance

  • First Conference - Belgrade, September 1-6, 1961
  • Second Conference - Cairo, October 5-10, 1964
  • Third Conference - Lusaka, September 8-10, 1970
  • Fourth Conference - Algiers, September 5-9, 1973
  • Fifth Conference - Colombo, August 16-19, 1976
  • Sixth Conference - Havana, September 3-9, 1979
  • Seventh Conference - New Delhi, march 7-12, 1983
  • Eighth Conference - Harare, September 1-6, 1986
  • Ninth Conference - Belgrade, September 4-7, 1989
  • Tenth Conference - Jakarta, September 1-7, 1992
  • Eleventh Conference - Cartagena de Indias, October 18-20, 1995

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2. NAM Structure and Organisation

The founders of the Non-Aligned Movement and their successors recognised that the Movement would probably be destroyed if they created such formal structures for the Movement as a constitution and internal secretariat. A multilateral trans-national organisation made up of states with differing ideologies and purposes could never create a rational administrative structure to implement its policies that all could accept.

2.1 Coordination

The Non-Aligned Movement has created a unique form of administrative style. Non-Aligned administration is non-hierarchical, rotational and inclusive, providing all member states, regardless of size and importance, with an opportunity to participate in global decision-making and world politics. The Summit is the occasion when the Movement formally rotates its Chair to the Head of State of the host country of the Summit, who then holds office until the next Summit. The Chair is at the same time also delegated certain responsibilities for promoting the principles and activities of the Movement.

By creating the practice of a rotating chair, Non-Aligned countries therefore place the onus of an administrative structure on the country assuming the Chair. When a country assumes the Chair of the Movement, it creates or designates an entire section of the Foreign Ministry to deal specifically with Non-Aligned issues. Secondly, since Non-Aligned countries meet regularly at the UN and conduct much of their work there, the Chairs' Ambassador at the United Nations essentially functions as the "Minister of Non-Aligned Affairs". The work of the non-aligned often consumes the activities of the Chairs' Permanent Mission in New York.

To facilitate the Chairs' responsibilities a number of structures aimed at improving the coordination and functioning of the existing Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees of NAM were created. The structures also exist in order to promote the process of achieving a commonality of positions and interests and to see to it that Non-Aligned countries speak with one voice in international meetings and negotiations.

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2.2 Coordinating Bureau

The Coordinating Bureau is the vocal point for coordination. The Bureau reviews and facilitates the harmonisation of the work of the NAM Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees.

The Heads of State or Government entrusted the Coordinating Bureau with the task of intensifying its actions to further strengthen coordination and mutual cooperation among Non-Aligned countries, including unified action in the United Nations and other international fora on issues of common concern.

2.3 Coordination by the Coordinating Bureau and role of the Chair

The Chair has the responsibility of leading and coordinating the activities of NAM within the United Nations and, as appropriate, in other international fora.
Besides the Coordinating Bureau, the Chair may therefore also preside over NAM mechanisms as necessary. Working Groups could be presided over by other members.

2.4 Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees

All NAM Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees meet as often as necessary. In the fulfilment of their mandates due regard is paid to coordination, efficiency and preparedness.

2.5 Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus

It is necessary that the NAM countries elected to the Security Council, and who form the NAM Caucus in the Security Council, constantly strive to adopt unified positions, and that the decisions and the positions of NAM as adopted at its Summits and Ministerial Conferences and by the Coordinating Bureau be properly reflected by them in the Security Council, without prejudice to their sovereign rights. At the Cartagena Summit the Heads of State or Government called for the need to continue to enhance this coordination, including the possibility of holding consultations on a regular basis, between members of the NAM Caucus and other members of the Coordinating Bureau.

The Chair of the Coordinating Bureau in New York should attend and address the Security Council on matters of particular importance to members of the Movement. To enlarge the scope of coordination, the Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau may at the invitation of the Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus attend the meetings of the Caucus.

The Chair of the Coordinating Bureau should hold regular meetings with each coordinator of the Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus with a view to being briefed on the work of the Council and in turn, to convey to the Caucus coordinator the positions of the Movement. Similarly, the Caucus coordinator should keep the Chair apprised of upcoming discussions and issues of general importance to the Movement.

The Coordinator of the Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus should also periodically brief the Movement through the Coordinating Bureau.

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2.6 Joint Coordinating Committee

In order to promote coordination and cooperation between the NAM and the Group of 77 in promoting the interests of developing countries in international fora, a Joint Coordinating Committee of the two groups was established in 1994, which meets regularly in New York.

2.7 Coordination of Non-Aligned countries in other UN centres

The Chair of the Movement is also responsible to give expeditious consideration to the establishment of arrangements for coordination of Non-Aligned countries in all United Nations centres and international organisation headquarters. The establishment of these arrangements facilitates coordination and cooperation with the Coordinating Bureau and enhances the role of the Movement in international fora.

2.8 The Troika

At a meeting of Foreign Ministers of NAM, representing past, present and future Chairs, in New Delhi on 6 April 1997, the concept of a Troika (of the past, present and future Chairs) started to emerge. The Chair, the Colombian Foreign Minister, at the meeting announced that the first meeting of the Troika would take place at the 52nd UN General Assembly. The Troika subsequently formally met for the first time in New York in September 1997.

2.9 Group of past, present and future Chairs (Group of Ten)

During the aforesaid meeting Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the format of the meeting of past, present and future Chairs and suggested that the Group meet more frequently as a discussion forum. It was also suggested that the Group would meet at other levels, e.g. on the level of officials to discuss issues that arise and require direction or a stance by the NAM.

2.10 Panel of Economists

The Foreign Ministers decided in New Delhi to set up an ad-hoc Panel of Economists from Non-Aligned countries to assess the current international economic situation from the perspective of developing countries and to identify and analyse major issues of concern to them. The Chair of the Movement (Colombia), in association with the host country (India), had to consult with member States on the establishment of the panel and on its work programme and report to the XIIth Summit in South Africa in 1998.

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2.11 Documentation

The preparation of all documents is the responsibility of the host country and should be the object of the widest possible consultations. Host countries should aim at circulating the First Draft as early as possible but not later than one month before the meeting.

Documents should be concise, non-repetitive and succinct, highlighting issues of particular importance or urgency. Emphasis should be placed on practical, action-orientated measures that could be implemented.

The Cartagena Document on Methodology, which was issued in May 1996, emphasises that the documents of Summit Conferences, which are the supreme organ of the Movement, should, while remaining comprehensive, be condensed. Every effort should also be made to avoid repetition.

Separate appeals or declarations and resolutions on important issues can also be issued.

2.12 Decision making by consensus

The practice of the Movement is to make all decisions by consensus. Consensus has enhanced the solidarity and unity of the Movement. This concept presupposes understanding of and respect for different points of view, including disagreement and implies mutual accommodation on the basis of which agreement can emerge by a sincere process of adjustment among member nations in the true spirit of Non-Alignment. The Cartagena Document on Methodology states that consensus, while signifying substantial agreement, does not require implying unanimity.

On sensitive issues, the NAM tradition is to pay attention to openness and the holding of extensive consultations with the broadest possible participation. The Bureau of the Meeting, with its representative capacity, should render its assistance.

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3. Format and Frequency of Meetings

The high level meetings of the Movement are:

Summit Conferences, Ministerial Conferences, Ministerial Meetings in New York during the regular Session of the UN General Assembly, Extraordinary Ministerial Meetings, Ministerial Meetings of the Coordinating Bureau, meetings of the Ministerial Committee on Methodology, meetings of the Standing Ministerial Committee on Economic Cooperation and Ministerial Meetings in various fields of International Cooperation.

There are other meetings of NAM such as the meetings of the Coordinating Bureau in New York and the meetings of the Working Groups, Task Forces, Contact Groups and Committees that are held at different levels.

3.1 Conference of Heads of State or Government

The Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government is the highest decision-making authority of the Movement. The existing practice is to hold the Summit Conference every three years. The Summit should be held at least one month before the regular Session of the UN General Assembly. The programme of the Summit includes a formal ceremony for the handing over of the Chair.

The decisions of a Summit should be action-orientated. Senior Officials and Ministerial meetings, which are preparatory to the Summit Conference, precede the Summit of the Heads of State or Government. The Summit has two committees, one for political issues and another for economic and social issues. In order to facilitate finalising the Drafts of the main documents, the committees begin their work informally during the Senior Officials meeting.

3.2 Ministerial Conference

The Ministerial Conference is held with the purpose of reviewing the developments and implementation of decisions of the preceding Summit, to prepare for the following Summit, and to discuss matters of urgency. These conferences are convened eighteen months after the Summit Conference, with the latest being the Ministerial Conference in New Delhi held from April 4 - 8, 1997. The final document of the New Delhi conference therefore focussed on reviewing the implementation of recommendations, decisions and Action Programmes from Cartagena which are of continuing relevance.

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3.3 Ministerial Meetings in New York during Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly

It is the practice that Ministers of Foreign Affairs annually meet in New York at the beginning of the regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The purpose of this annual meeting is to focus on the items of the Agenda of the General Assembly that are of major importance to the Movement.

3.4 Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau

These meetings are restricted to preparations for Summits and, if deemed necessary, to consider issues of major importance to the Movement.

3.5 Meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Methodology

All NAM members are to be members of the Ministerial Committee on Methodology. Bearing in mind that the examination of the structure and modalities of the Non-Aligned Movement is an ongoing process, meetings of the Committee on Methodology at Ministerial level should be held as necessary upon a decision by the Summit or the Ministerial Conference. The meetings of the Ministerial Committee will be chaired by the Chairman of the Movement.

3.6 Standing Ministerial Committee on Economic Cooperation

It is necessary to revitalize the Standing Ministerial Committee on Economic Cooperation in order to strengthen south-south cooperation, reactivate the dialogue between developed and developing countries, and enhance the role of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly, in international cooperation for development. The Standing Ministerial Committee should meet as frequently as necessary upon the recommendation of the Coordinating Bureau.

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3.7 Ministerial Meetings in various fields of International Cooperation

Consistent with the mandates given by the Conference of Heads of State or Government, the meetings at the ministerial level shall be held on such issues as information, culture, agriculture and external debt.

3.8 Extraordinary Meetings of the Coordinating Bureau

The extraordinary meetings of the Coordinating Bureau will take place in exceptional cases which call for urgent consideration.

3.9 Meetings of the working groups, tasks forces, contact groups and committees

All the existing working groups, task forces, contact groups and committees as included in the Annex make considerable contributions to the Movement. The working groups and above mentioned mechanisms should meet as often as necessary. Due consideration should be given to avoid overlapping of meetings.

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4. Member States and Other Participants

4.1 Member States

Afghanistan Algeria Angola
Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh
Barbados Belize Benin
Bhutan Bolivia Botswana
Brunei Darussalam Burkina Faso Burundi
Cambodia Cameroon Cape Verde
Central African Republic Chad Chile
Colombia Comoros Congo
Congo Democratic Rep of Cote d'Ivoire Cuba
Cyprus Djibouti Ecuador
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea
Ethiopia Gabon Gambia
Ghana Grenada Guatemala
Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana
Honduras India Indonesia
Iran Islamic Rep of Iraq Jamaica
Jordan Kenya Korea Democratic People's Rep of
Kuwait Lao People's Democratic Rep Lebanon
Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahirya
Madagascar Malawi Malaysia
Maldives Mali Malta
Mauritania Mauritius Mongolia
Morocco Mozambique Myanmar
Namibia Nepal Nicaragua
Niger Nigeria Oman
Pakistan Palestine Panama
Papua New Guinea Peru Philippines
Qatar Rwanda Saint Lucia
Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal
Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore
Somalia South Africa Sri Lanka
Sudan Suriname Swaziland
Syrian Arab Republic Thailand Togo
Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkmenistan
Uganda United Arab Emirates Tanzania United Rep of
Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela
Viet Nam Yemen *Yugoslavia
Zambia Zimbabwe

*Suspended

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4.2 Observers

Within the framework of the need to promote the opening of the Movement to the contributions of other actors in the international arena, the current practice is to admit states as observers to the NAM meetings. States, which fulfil criteria for admission as members, will have the option of applying for observer status.

Observers may attend and, with the Bureau's permission, address the Plenary of a Summit Conference or Ministerial meeting. They shall not participate in Committees nor in the meetings of NAM working groups, contact groups or task forces. The procedure for admission of members will apply for admission of observers.

The following countries are observers of the Movement :

Antigua and Barbuda Armenia Azerbaijan
Belarus Brazil China People's Republic
Costa Rica Croatia Dominica
Dominican Republic El Salvador Kazakhstan
Kyrgyztan Mexico Paraguay
Uruguay Ukraine

4.3 Observer Organisations

  • Organisation of the United Nations
  • Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO)
  • League of Arab States
  • Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
  • Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
  • New Independentist Movement of Puerto Rico
  • Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS)

At the Ministerial Meeting on Methodology held in May 1996, in Cartagena it was concluded that only States could participate as observers.

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4.4 Guest countries

Interested States, Non-governmental organisations and relevant Non-governmental organisations are invited as guests to the Summit and Ministerial Conferences. There is no permanent guest status.

Guests are invited on an ad hoc basis to each Summit and Ministerial Meeting. The invitation is issued by the host country after due consideration by the Coordinating Bureau. The current guests of the Movement will be included in the list provided by the Coordinating Bureau. Guests only attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Conference and do not have the right to attend and participate in the deliberations.

The following countries were invited as guests to the XIth Cartagena Summit:

Australia Austria Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bulgaria Canada Czech Republic
#Dominican Republic admitted as observer Finland Germany
Greece Holy See Hungary
Italy Netherlands New Zealand
Norway Poland Portugal
Romania Russian Federation Slovak Republic
Slovenia Spain Sweden
Switzerland #Ukraine admitted as observer September 1996


4.5 Guest Organizations

Within the UN System Outside the UN System
  • Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • International Centre for Public Enterprise in Developing Countries (ICPEDC)
  • International Conference on the Question of Palestine
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean
  • UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
  • UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • UN Development Programme (UNDP)
  • UN Economic and Social Commission of Asia and Pacific (ESCAP)
  • UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
  • UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  • UN International Research & Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
  • UN Special Committee on Decolonistion
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC)
  • Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • Group of 77
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies
  • League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Non-Aligned News Agency Pool (NANAP)
  • Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African States
  • SELA
  • South Centre
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)
  • World Association for World Federation

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Annex

Current NAM Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees:

1. NAM High-Level Working Group for the Restructuring of the United Nations (Chaired by Chairman of NAM).

  • NAM Working Group for the Restructuring of the Security Council (Chaired by Egypt).
  • NAM Drafting Groups of the NAM High-Level Working Group for the Restructuring of the United Nations dealing with the Supplement to an Agenda for Peace:
  • NAM Drafting Group on UN Imposed Sanctions (Coordinator : India).
  • NAM Drafting Group on Preventive Diplomacy and Peace-Making (Coordinator : Zimbabwe).
  • NAM Drafting Group on Post Conflict Peace-Building (Coordinator : Egypt).
  • NAM Drafting Group on Coordination (Coordinator : Colombia).

2. NAM Working Group on Human Rights (Chaired by Malaysia).

3. NAM Working Group on Peace-Keeping Operations (Chaired by Thailand).

4. Ministerial Committee on Methodology (Chaired by Chairman of NAM).

5. NAM Working Group of the Coordinating Bureau on Methodology (Chaired by Colombia).

6. NAM Working Group on Disarmament (Chaired by Indonesia).

7. Committee of Palestine (Chaired by Chairman of NAM).

8. Contact Group on Cyprus (Chaired by Algeria).

9. Task Force on Somalia (Chaired by Chairman of NAM).

10. Task Force on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

11. Non-Aligned Security Council Caucus.

12. Coordinator Countries of the Action Programme for Economic Cooperation (APEC).

13. Standing Ministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation (Chaired by Chairman of NAM).

14. Joint Coordinating Committee - JCC - (Chaired by Chairman of G-77 and Chairman of NAM).

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