South Bulletin 95, 1 November 2016
Non-Aligned Movement Summit re-asserts its relevance in a turbulent world
The 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela in mid-September 2016 was an occasion to reflect on the movement’s history and to reaffirm its relevance in a world of great political and economic turbulence. It adopted two documents which are remarkable for their comprehensiveness, showing the consensus of 120 countries for positions in a wide range of issues. It faces the challenge of maintaining these positions in negotiations in the years ahead, and converting some of them into action.
This special issue of the South Bulletin provides reports and analysis of the NAM and the Summit, including speeches by the new Chair of the NAM, the Venezuelan President, as well as a summary of the Margarita Declaration, one of the two main outcomes.
To download the entire South Bulletin, please click here. To read individual articles, please see below.
NAM Summit adopts comprehensive declarations, re-asserting its relevance in a turbulent world
The Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in mid-September 2016 was an occasion to reflect on the movement’s history and to reaffirm its relevance in a world of great political and economic turbulence. It adopted two documents which are remarkable for their comprehensiveness, showing the consensus of 120 countries for positions in a wide range of issues. It faces the challenge of maintaining these positions in negotiations in the years ahead, and converting some of them into action.
By Martin Khor
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held its 17th Summit on 17-18 September 2016, in the beautiful island of Margarita in Venezuela, under the theme of “Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development”.
The NAM Summit was attended by several heads of state or government, Foreign Ministers, senior officials and Ambassadors from its 120 member states and representatives from many observer states and international organisations . Two general outcomes were the political NAM Summit Declaration (widely known as the Margarita Declaration); and the 200-page Outcome Document which lays out the position and recommended actions of the Movement on a wide range of political, and economic and social issues. They had been carefully negotiated by the NAM Missions in New York, and the NAM members’ senior officials and Foreign Ministers in Margarita just prior to the Summit.
The Summit was an occasion to reflect on the history and future of the movement, to reaffirm its relevance and to make commitments to addressing the manifold global and regional problems confronting the world.
NAM, which is 55 years old, has had a glorious history, having been formed during the period in modern history when many colonialised territories had just won their independence, and several more were in the final stages to cast off colonialism.
NAM symbolised the unity of the newly independent countries, a unity forged from a common past of being exploited as colonies of the rich countries, and from a common struggle to be free from colonial rule, and a common aspiration to develop their new nations economically and socially with the central goal of benefitting their own people.
Their experiences may be different, and their socio-economic systems may be diverse. But there was a shared desire to reform the old world dominated by a few countries and make a new world where national sovereignty was respected, and the continued domination of the former colonial-master countries over the world economy could be replaced with more democratic governance and a more equitable sharing of global income.
In a world split by the Cold War, led by the West on one hand and the Soviet Union on the other, the newly independent countries decided to be “non-aligned” and thus was born the name of the Non Aligned Movement, its principles and the positions it has been taking.
With the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, it has been debated whether a non-aligned movement is still needed. The members of NAM have responded with a sound Yes, as military interventions and political interference by the major developed countries, especially the sole superpower, continued and in some ways even intensified. Moreover, the developing countries are still subjected to a global economic system dominated by the former colonial countries.
The developing countries have continued to feel the need to unite and show solidarity for one another. NAM played an important role in the successful struggle against apartheid and today it continues to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for independence and for the lifting of the US embargo against Cuba, to name two examples.
In the halls of the United Nations in New York and Geneva, the NAM continues to play a major role in the General Assembly and its organs, in the Human Rights Council and other bodies. It works with the other umbrella body of the developing countries, the Group of 77 and China, on a range of issues. The struggles of past decades — that led to the movement for a new international economic order, for recognition of the national sovereignty of developing countries, for the right to development, and for making developing countries’ interests not only to be recognised but to be at the centre of negotiations in various fora — are still the struggles of today, and with the addition of new issues. This is why the continued relevance of NAM has been deeply felt not only by political leaders but also civil society and intellectuals in the developing world.
It is within this background that the 17th NAM Summit was held, with the Chairmanship passing from Iran to Venezuela. In his opening speech, the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, gave a useful categorisation of three phases in the history of NAM — with Phase 1 as the initial foundation years from the Bandung conference in 1955 to the Belgrade founding NAM conference in 1961 and to the collapse of the USSR in 1990; Phase 2 as the years of the unipolar world dominated by unilateral actions of the dominant countries especially the sole super-power, usually against developing nations; and Phase 3 which started with the NAM summit of 2003, is the present era where the unipolar world has become a world of more distributed power in which there is the rise of emerging countries, with the countries of the South able to gather more strength of their own, and with more opportunities to reshape the world order into a more balanced one.
President Maduro pledged his own commitment to work on 11 key issues and goals during Venezuela’s three-year term as NAM Chairman. The issues are drawn from a longer list in the Margarita Declaration. They include democratising the UN, building a new international economic order with developing countries playing key roles in this process, implementation of Agenda 2030, democratising the international order in communications and information, building a culture of peace and dialogue of civilisations, combatting climate change from a South perspective, support for the cause of Palestinian people, support for Cuba against the US blockade, decolonisation of Puerto Rico, taking initiatives to resolve the refugee crisis, and fighting terrorism in all forms.
Recalling the South Commission, the precursor to the South Centre, President Maduro also made three proposals to implement its recommendations: establishing a Secretariat of the South to coordinate activities including between NAM and the G77 and China; establishing a Bank of the South with finances from and to the South; and pursuing food security and sovereignty with the assistance of FAO.
The NAM Summit Declaration had 21 goals described as commitments by the political leaders for their joint efforts or actions. Among them were:
- Strengthening and revitalising the NAM.
- Strengthening International Peace and Security, including by rejecting the illegal policies of regime change aimed at overthrowing constitutional governments.
- Addressing Disarmament and International Security, and especially eliminating nuclear weapons within a specified time frame.
- Promoting Human Rights, with a special mention of the Right to Development.
- Condemning Unilateral Sanctions, especially unilateral coercive measures used against countries of the Movement.
- Condemning terrorist acts and the spread of violent extremism, and affirming that these two evils should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
- Showing solidarity with Palestine, in light of the continued injustice against the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli occupation and policies, and calling on the parties to exert all efforts to resume and support a credible peace process.
- Reform of the United Nations, with the strengthening of the General Assembly’s authority and the reform and democratisation of the Security Council. The selection of the UN Secretary General should be a more transparent and inclusive process, with a central role for the General Assembly.
- Peacekeeping Operations should respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States.
- Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals should be implemented in an integrated and indivisible manner, recognising the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. The multilateral trading system should provide an enabling environment for development, by ensuring a level playing field for developing countries in international trade.
- Tackling Climate Change, including through implementing the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, and recognising the historic responsibilities of developed countries. The developed countries are urged to fulfill their commitments of providing finance, transfer of appropriate technology and capacity building to developing countries.
- Under Economic Governance, there is a need to democratise decision-making in the IMF and World Bank and in the governance of a new world economic order.
- South-South Cooperation is an important element of international cooperation for sustainable development, as a complement and not as a substitute to the North-South Cooperation.
- Address the issues of Refugees and Migrants including to provide support to countries most affected, to assist the host countries, and for Governments to safeguard and protect the rights of migrants in accordance with international and domestic laws.
- Under a New World Information and Communication Order, there is need for media of developed countries to respect developing countries in the formulation of their opinions, models and perspectives and not to use media as a tool for hostile propaganda against developing countries.
The 11 points for action pledged by President Maduro and the related 21 points of the Declaration are laudable. If NAM takes up all these issues seriously in various fora, it will have a very significant effect on global affairs and international relations. To make it happen, the NAM would have to establish stronger coordination among its own members, with some taking lead roles on each of the issues. It would also have to coordinate with the G77 and China as well as with other organisations and regional groupings of the South.
On a basic level, NAM needs to continue and enhance actions that enable it to maintain and advance its positions in the Declaration and the Final Document. Much of these actions will be in the negotiations or discussions in various fora, especially in the UN bodies. Implementing concrete actions beyond the taking of positions in negotiations will be even more challenging, but the possibilities for this are already evident. Individual developing countries and groupings are already taking their own South-South initiatives, such as establishing the BRICS’ New Development Bank. NAM can build on and add value to these initiatives.
Exploring and implementing the three proposals by Maduro would also be beneficial. Having an official Secretariat of the South to fully service the NAM and the G77 and China and their members has been talked about for a long time. In a modest way the South Centre has been playing its role as a think tank in the service of developing countries and its groupings, including NAM and G77 and China. Whether there can be found sufficient political will and practical ways to establish a full-scale Secretariat, to coordinate developing countries and to support the implementation of the Declarations made by their groups, remains to be seen as this would be a big challenge.
The Bank of the South was one of the ideas of the South Commission; to some extent the New Development Bank is an operationalizing of this idea, and we should be patient in seeing how it works in its present initial phase, and how it takes off. Similarly there are initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and various development banks in South America. Achieving food security in the South through increasing food production is a laudable goal; achieving it requires not only intense efforts in developing countries but also reforms to the rules of world trade which currently favour the developed countries and constrain the agricultural potentials of developing countries.
The Final Document is a detailed statement of 200 pages with 919 paragraphs. It contains the positions of the NAM on a whole range of global and regional political issues, including the key principles of NAM, the reform of the UN, North-South dialogue and South-South cooperation, regional and sub-regional political issues, as well as development, social and human rights issues (including the world economic crisis, trade, food security, migration, climate change, water, energy and humanitarian issues).
This voluminous document is valuable as a statement of where the NAM stands on a unified platform of 120 member countries. It is a great feat for the NAM members to have had intense discussions and finally getting consensus on such a comprehensive set of issues, in some of which there are strong differences of views not only between North and South but also among developing countries. The Final Document stands as a very useful and valuable compilation of NAM’s collective position on contemporary international and regional issues, political and economic/social. It will be another great achievement to maintain the unity and solidarity of the group and to maintain (or if needed to appropriately modify) the positions on these issues as situations evolve in the next three years until the document is revised and updated at the next NAM Summit.
All in all, the NAM Summit has been very useful. It gave the NAM members the opportunity to review their collective position on a whole range of international issues, and to come to agreement on them. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the history and present state of the movement and to conclude that NAM is as relevant as or more so than before and why; and to reaffirm the need to advance the cause in the next three years, with positions on most issues clearly spelt out.
This kind of occasion that the NAM Summit provided is much needed especially in a world that has become extremely unstable, economically and politically; where major developed countries still exercise dominance in global military, political and economic affairs; where South-South solidarity and cooperation is very much in need; and where the developing countries are also emerging in some areas and issues, thus providing new opportunities for a rebalancing of global power and affairs. Let us hope the NAM and its members grasp the opportunities and make significant progress in the years ahead.
Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre.
The NAM Summit Declaration in summary
The Declaration of the NAM’s 17th Summit (now widely called the Margarita Declaration), adopted by the heads of state and government at the closing session, contains some statements of principles and positions in its preamble, and commitments for joint efforts on 21 issues. Below is a summary of the Declaration. The full Declaration can be downloaded at this web link: http://namvenezuela.org/?page_id=6330.
The Margarita Declaration stated that the developing countries are the ones who suffer more intensely from the disregard of international law, from invasions, from the ravages of war and armed conflicts, caused mostly by the geopolitical interests of the great centres of power, as well as from protracted conflicts inherited from colonialism and neo-colonialism.
It recognised that solidarity is a broad concept encompassing the sustainability of international relations, peaceful coexistence, equity and empowerment of developing countries.
It affirmed the validity of the founding principles of the Movement and its historical achievements, which reaffirm that the fight against colonialism and neo-colonialism, racism, all forms of foreign intervention, aggression, foreign occupation, domination or hegemony, as well as the intention of becoming a balancing factor in the international relations, outside of the military alliances of the centres of power, remain concrete expressions of the policy of non-alignment.
The political leaders committed to make joint efforts to achieve 21 objectives. These included:
- Strengthening and Revitalization of the Movement: They reaffirmed their full and decisive support to the consolidation, strengthening and revitalization of the Non-Aligned Movement, as the only guarantee to preserve its legacy and historical validity and to ensure therefore its strength, cohesion and resilience, on the basis of unity in diversity and the solidarity of its Member States.
- Strengthening International Peace and Security: They reiterated that they will continue to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to save future generations from the scourge of war and military conflict. They further rejected the illegal policies of regime change aimed at overthrowing constitutional Governments, in contravention of international law. Overcoming conflicts and the achievement of a firm and lasting peace requires a holistic approach that addresses the structural causes of conflicts. They opposed any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity or territorial integrity of a State.
- Right to Self-Determination: They stressed the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination. In the case of peoples who are subject to foreign occupation and colonial or foreign domination, the exercise of self-determination remains valid and essential to securing the eradication of all those situations.
- Disarmament and International Security: They reaffirmed their intention to redouble efforts towards eliminating the threat posed by the existence of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. They resolved to work to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. They also resolved to establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. They called for the urgent commencement of negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the CD, in particular on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use and to provide for their destruction with a specified time frame. They further reiterated the sovereign right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
- Human Rights: They reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of all human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, through a constructive and cooperative international dialogue, capacity building, technical assistance and the recognition of good practices, while ensuring the full enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to development as a an inalienable, fundamental and universal right, and as a comprehensive part of universally recognised human rights. They highlight the historical significance of the adoption of the Declaration of the Right to Development thirty years ago, which was promoted by the Non-Aligned Movement, and which requires a profound change in the international economic structure, including the creation of economic and social conditions that are favourable to developing countries. Likewise, they expressed once again that human rights should be strengthened by adhering to the fundamental principles of universality, transparency, impartiality,non-selectivity, non-politicization and objectivity while seeking to realize the human rights for all, pursuant to the principles contained in the Vienna Declaration of 1993.
- Unilateral Sanctions: They expressed their condemnation at the promulgation and application of unilateral coercive measures against countries of the Movement, in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. In this respect, they reiterated their determination to denounce and demand the repeal of such measures. Similarly, they reaffirmed that each State has full sovereignty over the totality of its wealth, natural resources and economic activity, exercising it freely.
- Terrorism: They reiterated that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. Hence, they reaffirmed their firm condemnation of terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations. They further condemned the destruction of cultural heritage and religious sites, as well as the commission of crimes against humanity by terrorist groups, among others, on the basis of their religion or beliefs.
Likewise, they recognized the threat posed nowadays by this despicable scourge, particularly the activities carried out by terrorist groups and the spread of violent extremism which can be conducive to terrorism, making it necessary for States to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They considered that the adoption of a future Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism could complement the set of existing international legal instruments.
In addition, they reaffirmed that terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group, and that these attributions should not be used to justify terrorism or counterterrorism measures that include, inter alia, profiling of terror suspects and intrusion on individual privacy.
- Dialogue Among Civilizations: They stressed the importance of promoting respect for religious, social and cultural diversity, in order to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and respect between societies and nations, through intercultural, interreligious and inter-civilizations dialogue. They also recognized the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
- Situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine: They reaffirmed once again that the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, constitutes a destabilising factor in the region, and as such they demanded the withdrawal of the Occupying Power from those territories occupied since June 1967, in accordance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. They reiterated that the continued injustice against the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli occupation and its related policies and practices, are the main source of the violation of human rights of the Palestinian people. They called on the parties to exert all efforts to resume and support a credible peace process, based on the longstanding terms of reference and parameters, with a view to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace that is based on a two-State solution, with secure and internationally recognised pre-1967 borders, bearing in mind the Arab Peace Initiative. They sought a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian refugees’ cause.
They condemned all measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to alter the legal, physical and demographic status of the occupied Syrian Golan. They demanded once again that Israel should withdraw fully from the occupied Syrian Golan to the borders of 4 June 1967.
- Reform of the United Nations: They reiterated the need to recover and strengthen the authority of the General Assembly as the most democratic, accountable, universal and representative body of the Organization. In this regard, they encouraged the establishment of a harmonious and balanced relationship between the main bodies of the Organization. They further called for the reform of the Security Council, in order to transform it into a more democratic, effective, efficient, transparent and representative body, and in line with contemporary geo-political realities.
- Selection and Appointment of the Secretary General of the United Nations: They underlined the central role that corresponds to the General Assembly in the process of selection and appointment of the Secretary General of the United Nations, while reaffirming the need for greater transparency and inclusiveness in the current process of selection.
- Peacekeeping Operations: They reaffirmed that peacekeeping operations must be carried out with strict adherence to the principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter, and emphasized that respect of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States, as well as non-intervention in internal affairs, are key elements of the joint efforts in the promotion of international peace and security. In this regard, they reiterated that the respect to the basic principles of peacekeeping; namely, consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence, is essential.
- Sustainable Development Goals: They reiterated their will to work towards the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the need to fulfil the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets for all nations and peoples, and for all sectors of society, in an integrated and indivisible manner. They reiterated that ending poverty and hunger is the greatest global challenge. They reaffirmed all the principles recognized in the Agenda, particularly the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. They further underlined the importance of developed countries fulfilling their commitments regarding the provision of finance, transfer of appropriate technology and capacity building to developing countries, in order to ensure the global realization of SDGs.
They also reiterated their support to strengthening the multilateral trading system so as to provide an enabling environment for development, by ensuring a level playing field for developing countries in international trade. They reaffirmed their determination to move forward within the framework of the Doha Development Agenda, taking into account the developmental needs of developing countries. They further underlined the importance of increasing Aid for Trade and capacity building.
- Promotion of Education, Science and Technology for Development: They reaffirmed their commitment to combat illiteracy while noting that education is an inalienable human right. They stressed that the use of science and technology is essential to address the development challenges. Hence, the transfer of technology from developed countries, on favorable terms, is crucial to ensure the sustainable development, for the benefit of all peoples of the world.
- Climate Change: They reaffirmed that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of their times and expressed profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally. They expressed concern about the increased adverse impacts of climate change, particularly on developing countries. They reiterated the concerns and particularities of all developing countries, based on the provisions of the UNFCCC, particularly in relation to the implementation of the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, and in light of the historic responsibilities of developed countries. Hence, they urged the developed countries to fulfill their commitments of providing finance, transfer of appropriate technology and capacity building to developing countries.
- Economic Governance: They reaffirmed that the reform of the international financial architecture requires the democratization of the decision-making institutions of Bretton Woods (IMF and World Bank). Therefore, it is necessary to widen and strengthen the level of participation of developing countries in the international decision and economic law making processes and in the governanceof a new world economic order. In this regard, they urged for transparent and more open multilateral development banks and international finance organizations or agencies. They expressed concern on the negative impact that tax havens can have on the world economy, in particular on developing countries.
- South-South Cooperation: They reiterated that South-South Cooperation is an important element of international cooperation for the sustainable development of their peoples, as a complement and not as a substitute to the North-South Cooperation, which allows for the transfer of appropriate technologies, in favourable conditions and preferential terms. In this regard, they reaffirmed that South-South Cooperation is an expression of solidarity and cooperation among the peoples and countries of the South, which contributes to their national wellbeing, guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in the internal affairs, and mutual benefit.
- International Solidarity: They recognized that the response of the international community to pandemics that constitute a threat to public health and to various natural disasters is an example to follow in terms of solidarity and international cooperation. In this sense, they highlighted the efforts of the international community to counter and eradicate the spread of various pandemics, among them Ebola, as well as for confronting the aftermath of natural disasters around the world.
- Refugees and Migrants: They acknowledged the acute humanitarian emergencies resulting from the high number of refugees, mainly due to the conflicts created in the territories of the different Member States of the Movement. They further stressed the importance of translating political statements into tangible support to countries affected the most by this phenomenon as well as, the need to assist the host countries and communities. They also acknowledged the historical contribution of international migration to nations and they reaffirmed the responsibility of Governments to safeguard and protect the rights of migrants in accordance with international and domestic laws.
- Youth, Women, Peace and Security: They recognized the important role that youth and women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. In this regard, they underscored the need to achieve full gender equality and the empowerment of women.
- New World Information and Communication Order: They emphasized the need for information and communication strategies to be deeply rooted in historical and cultural processes and called on the media of developed countries to respect developing countries in the formulation of their opinions, models and perspectives with a view to enhancing the dialogue among civilizations. They also reiterated their deep concern on the use of media as a tool for hostile propaganda against developing countries aimed at undermining their governments and stressed the need to promote alternative, free, pluralistic and responsible media and communication sources, that reflect the realities and interests of the peoples of the developing world.
The above is a summary made by the South Bulletin of the NAM Summit Declaration. As it is a summary, some of the points in the original have not been included. For a full appreciation or understanding of the NAM Summit, a reading of the full Declaration is needed.
Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirms its even greater relevance today
By Adriano José Timossi
Political leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), including several heads of state or government, gathered on the island of Margarita in Venezuela, to attend the 17th NAM Summit on 17-18 September 2016, under the theme “Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development”.
The Summit marked the handover of the Presidency of the bloc from Iran to Venezuela, which will be leading this large political group of developing countries for a period of three years until 2019. The Summit was preceded by a Senior Official Meeting held on 13-14 September and a Ministerial Meeting on 15-16 September. These two meetings finalized the discussions on the two main outcome documents – the “Final Document” of the NAM Summit and the Declaration of Margarita – which were adopted on 18 September at the closing ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed his deepest gratitude to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the support provided to the handover of this “powerful world movement” and his capable chairmanship which contributed to revitalising the movement in the past four years. Maduro said that the choosing of the venue of Isla Margarita had a historical meaning. “200 years ago the former colonial power was expelled from this Island by Simon Bolivar bringing independence and freedom from the powerful Spanish empire”, he said. “Since then this land was declared free from all the empires.”
Maduro also gave a historical overview of the development of the Movement whose origins were in the Bandung and Belgrade conferences. The Bandung Conference held in 1955 in Indonesia was the first meeting of Asian and African leaders, and it adopted the 10 principles of Bandung. The Belgrade Conference in the former Yugoslav Republic in 1961 created the NAM as the driving force of solidarity among developing countries in their fight against colonialism, their call for promoting a New International and Economic Order, the fight against racism, refusal of alignment to any dominant power and their need to build a world of peace and security in international relations.
NAM was a driving force for a multipolar order, against the bipolar period, which reigned over the so-called Cold War dominated by the imminent threat of war and destruction. “It was also an expression of South-South Cooperation which represents the backbone of NAM”, he concluded, calling for unity and a revitalized NAM acting to promote the very key values of the group.
The Final Document, which has over 200 pages and 919 paragraphs, provides a comprehensive review of the current and fragile state of world affairs, with deep security and economic problems in various NAM members (including Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine), and re-establishes the role of an even more relevant and united NAM acting collectively in the international context to prevent war and promote peace, solidarity and development for all. It includes a review of challenges such as overcoming poverty, climate change, south-south cooperation, health, peace and security, food security, UN reform, corruption, drug trafficking, fight against terrorism as well as a reaffirmation of the key principles that guide the bloc. It also addresses issues of common concern in the regions of the group and international organizations such as the UN.
The Summit also adopted the Declaration of Margarita. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the Declaration of Margarita “set the basis for a renewed NAM, capable of addressing the challenges of 2016 and forward.”
President Maduro enumerated some of the key points in the declaration including the call upon NAM members for unified and stronger efforts not only aiming at the reform of the UN but also for its re-foundation, with the aim of promoting its democratization and to reach this goal, he called for making full use of NAM’s leadership and NAM’s large number of votes.
“The UN was born after the 1945 war, and now it needs a deep transformation. There have been talks about reform, but we’d rather talk about re-foundation, a new foundation of the UN system”, he said. The new chair of the NAM bloc also called for a return to the longstanding aspiration of a new international economic order to be built in closer cooperation with BRICS and other recently emerged regional blocks.
President Maduro said the Declaration also called for prioritizing the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and he urged NAM members to work together to reach this goal. He called on NAM members to set up a Communications Agenda at the international level, welcoming some important developments such as the multi-state Telesur TV in the Latin American and Caribbean region created under the leadership of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The Margarita declaration also calls for the Dialogue of Civilizations to promote a culture of peace and against intervention. Maduro stressed “tolerance and respect between societies and nations”. Climate change is also one of the key elements, as the members of NAM are the ones most affected despite being the ones that least caused the global warming.
The twenty one points of the Margarita Declaration also addressed other issues including Palestine; the Cuban blockade; South-South Cooperation; strengthening and revitalization of the movement; the right to self-determination; terrorism; appointment of the Secretary General; refugees and migrants; youth; women; peace and security.
President Maduro also recalled in his opening speech the importance of the South Commission, which had been brainstormed on the sidelines of the Harare Summit in 1986 and later implemented in 1987. “The South Commission did an extraordinary work”, he said, while welcoming the participation of the South Centre delegation at the NAM Summit. The South Commission had presented plans, proposals and recommendations that could be reviewed and implemented by the bloc. In this regard, President Maduro suggested the establishment of a South Secretariat, as proposed by the South Commission, to act as a mechanism of coordination of NAM and as a mechanism of articulation with G77 and China. Also, he proposed the establishment of a Bank of the South for development and finance of the developing countries. A third proposal was the establishment of a joint project with the FAO for food security and food sovereignty.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who had presided over the 120-members bloc over the past four years, urged strong unity among independent states. At the opening ceremony, he said, “at the current juncture, NAM member states more than ever require solidarity, convergence and coordination. The truth is that as a bloc that comprises about two-thirds of the United Nations members, we are an undeniable part of the solutions to the challenges facing today’s world.”
The Iranian leader also recalled that the founding principles of NAM included the need to guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries and that NAM will help promote the national interests, good-neighbourliness, and sustainable security and development throughout the world. “By following these principles, many of the fundamental problems and challenges as well as serious existing crises can be resolved,” he remarked. He also stated that “the violation of the national sovereignty of developing countries is being carried out under various covers and forms,” a serious cause of concern.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a video message congratulated the government of Venezuela and praised the work of the NAM leaders in raising awareness and mobilizing the international community to work for world peace and sustainable development. “Multilaterism is the most effective way to address global challenges”, he asserted.
President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, which will take the presidency of the G77 and China in New York in 2017, called for united action against fiscal paradises. He said that “fiscal paradises are the maximum expression of capitalism without face and without responsibility, without transparency, without patria and without humanity”. The fight against tax evasion and corruption cannot be done in isolated fashion. “We need to get global action to end this form of wild capitalism”, he said. President Correa also called for unity and actions with the most vulnerable and marginalized people, with the aim of changing the current global order. “The current world order is unfair, immoral, where only the strong survive, where everything works with capital and not in favour of the human being and with the functions of the markets and not the people. We need to have a world order where societies are above the interests of the markets”, stated the Ecuadorian president.
Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, said that NAM was created to fight against colonialism in the 20th century but today, “our fight is against neo-colonialism, wars and soft coups”. Morales announced his intention to present the candidacy of Bolivia to host the NAM presidency after Azerbaijan (which will take over from Venezuela in 2019).
President Raul Castro of Cuba, the country which chaired the NAM twice, beginning in 1979 and 2006, said that his country will continue demanding the lifting of the damaging economic, financial and trade embargo imposed on his country by the United States five decades ago. The Cuban leader will also demand full sovereignty of the territory illegally occupied by the Naval base of the US in Guantanamo. “Cuba won’t renounce any of its principles, it won’t give in from its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals,” said Castro. “There will be no normal relations until the two demands are fulfilled.”
The Vice President of India, Mr. Hamid Ansari, recalled how world leaders at the summit in the UN in 2005 had called for urgent reform of the Security Council to make the UN “fit for the 21st century”. Reiterating the need for such reforms, he said: “Today we need to ask whether an organization designed in 1945 with just 51 member states, is really appropriate to serve the needs of an international community that now comprises 193 independent sovereign states facing 21st century challenges to their citizens’ well-being and security.”
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said that a strong sense of unity and international co-operation are the biggest weapons that small nations have to fight unilateralism that threatens their development. President Mugabe also said the bloc had a decades-old tradition of advancing the causes of underdeveloped countries, and its founding principles were needed now more than ever in the face of interference by big powers in the affairs of emerging economies.
“Poverty is a threat to international peace and security and the wellbeing of people who are at the centre of Agenda 2030. We should therefore continue to speak out against unilateral actions that undermine efforts to address poverty and underdevelopment,” President Mugabe said.
The Final Document and the Declaration of Margarita were adopted by consensus on 18 September at the closing session. A declaration in support of Palestine was also adopted. In his speech, President Maduro concluded the Summit with a commitment to revitalizing the movement. He also referred to the 200-page final outcome that had just been adopted as a document that has “written the history of the struggle of humanity of the peoples from the South for their right to peace.”
In the next three years, the NAM will be led by Venezuela. It will coordinate with a troika comprising itself as the current Chairman , Iran (the past president) and Azerbaijan who will be the next chair of the bloc.
Adriano José Timossi is Senior Programme Officer of the Global Governance for Development Programme (GGDP) of the South Centre.
Why NAM is still relevant today
By Adriano José Timossi
Established in 1961 at the Belgrade Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, despite some criticisms, still remains relevant as one of the most important platforms to promote unity among the countries of the developing world which is so necessary to face their longstanding, emerging and growing challenges. This is particularly true inside the United Nations, where most of the NAM’s daily business takes place, as its member states debate, agree on and advance common positions quite successfully.
The NAM quite often puts forward common positions of its members. Or many of the members coordinate with one another during debates on some issues in various fora of the UN, especially on political-related issues in the UN headquarters in New York. At the UN in Geneva, NAM operates on several issues (for example on the right to development) in the Human Rights Council as well as on health-related matters where a NAM Ministerial meeting of Health Ministers takes place on the sidelines of the annual World Health Assembly.
The NAM is also relevant in providing support to countries to specific member states such as Palestine which is facing occupation and siege and struggling for independence, and Cuba which has been suffering from an embargo by the United States for decades. It had been a firm supporter of the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa. It remains a strong pillar of support for developing countries fighting against racism, occupation and neo-colonialism. NAM also takes up social and economic issues, so its coordination on these issues with the G77 and China can yield positive results.
It is important to note that despite the poor media coverage of the week of intense diplomatic activities in the Caribbean island of Margarita, and in most of the cases, the negative tone of many reports, the 17th NAM Summit was an important gathering. It had the participation of several heads of state or government, many Ministers and Ambassadors, and important observer countries such as Russia, China, Argentina and Mexico. A total of 14 organizations also attended as observers, including the UN and the South Centre.
Over a dozen of developed countries also attended part of the meetings open for invited guests. These included Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, Canada, The Netherlands and Slovakia, which holds the EU presidency. The participation of around 140 countries in Isla Margarita is indeed the greatest proof of the summit’s importance.
Apart from the plenary debates which facilitated an exchange of views on international issues, the summit also adopted the two documents that will serve as guides for NAM for the next three years. They comprehensively cover all the significant international and regional issues.
Equally important were the hundreds of bilateral meetings that took place among delegations attending the week-long events in Isla Margarita, with useful outcomes such as trade deals, and discussions on regional differences. For instance, it was at the NAM Summit that discussions with OPEC and non-OPEC countries were somehow advanced and that resulted in the agreement to reduce the production of oil, which was recently announced in an informal meeting in Algeria at the end of September. President Maduro himself announced at the conclusion of the NAM summit that a deal was close to being reached.
Most recently, in October, the NAM, operating at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, also successfully advocated for a resolution on the right to development. The resolution that was approved by the Council established a mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, a fresh victory for the new presidency of the NAM. The Special Rapporteur will support countries in the implementation of the right to development and Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development. The Declaration on the Right to Development, a heritage of the NAM, is being commemorated this year in its 30th anniversary. The Right to Development is one of the core elements of the NAM agenda in Geneva, a right that today is even more relevant in a period of multiple crises.
The Past and Future of NAM: 11 Commitments for Action
In his address at the opening ceremony of the NAM Summit in Margarita, the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro Moros gave a historical perspective of three phases in the development of NAM, and presented eleven commitments derived from the Margarita Declaration that Venezuela is committing to take up during its Presidency. Below are extracts of his speech.
We have gathered in this historic place of the Caribbean 137 delegations, from 122 member and observer countries, and several organizations from the United Nations system, regional and sub-regional systems in which our countries are part of.
We are here, in the very centre of the Venezuelan Caribbean, the Margarita Island, and we wanted to come here because this year marks 200 years since the Liberator Army, led by General Simon Bolivar, came to accomplish the work of independence and freedom for this place in Our America, Margarita, which fought against the then powerful Spanish Empire.
200 years ago the Spanish imperial troops were expelled from this island territory, today part of our Venezuela, and it never will be subjected to any empire of the world ever. This land was finally declared free for all the times.
So from the heroic people of Margarita and in memory of Simon Bolivar, I warmly welcome all of you brothers and sisters of the world.
Venezuela like all Our America is a land that saw the rise of millions of indigenous peoples who inhabited our territory, our rivers, all our mountains, all our seas in resistance with dignity, in defense of its culture and its right to life.
500 years ago, one of the biggest genocides took place in this land that Europe still hides in the world history, more than 80 million aboriginal men and women of this land were killed, disappeared from the face of the earth, by empires of Europe which came to seize the land and the wealth and install systems of domination; against a fierce resistance.
So we, we assume ourselves as a rebellious, cimarrona (wild) homeland as we say in Venezuela, in homage to those rebel communities of African grandparents, who arrived as slaves and went to the mountains to play their drum and to live in freedom, and to cultivate love for their language, for their singing, for their poetry, for their work.
It is also this land, the land of the Liberators, on their behalf we always received those who visit us; it is the land of the great Simon Bolivar, Antonio Jose de Sucre, Francisco de Miranda, who 200 years ago, assumed a historical epic accomplishment, built armies, united people from across the continent and chased away the Spanish empire which had subjugated, pillaged and dominated us for more than 300 years.
So you come to a land that has managed to rebuild its heroic struggle, its deep spirituality and values. This is the Venezuela that welcomes all and everyone.
I want to thank in a special way the Islamic Republic of Iran for these last four years of leadership and management, that had led the presidency of our movement at the highest level, and which has given our movement a new force, vigour, and dynamism.
It is very important to make the history of the NAM of the past 6 decades visible in order to observe how it has managed to continuously interlock the struggle of our peoples against colonialism, against slavery, against all forms of exploitation and pillage and, these struggles of our peoples are there for the respect of their sovereignty and self-determination, the respect to the right, we have, of forging our own political, economic, cultural and social model.
The different phases of NAM are impressive, and the importance of envisioning the strengths, the weaknesses and specially the challenges of our movement in the light of the historical heritage we take today, has been demonstrated in the preparation of this summit. There are three clearly identified NAM phases.
The first phase started in the conference of Africa and Asia, the Afro-Asian Conference in April, 1955, the Conference of Bandung. In there, the basis was installed with the 10 principles of Bandung. It was born there with the brilliance, the light of the founders’ leadership, which bravely, courageously and firmly allowed such leaders and the Bandung Conference’s countries to turn history’s car into a new direction.
It is the first phase which has, as foundational step, the conference of Bandung and Belgrade’s conference in Yugoslavia, the great Joseph Tito’s Yugoslavia, a man who we always paid tribute to because of his courage, his anti-fascist strength, his determination and dignity. 1961’s conference definitely gave a step of articulation among the forces which seek a non-colonized world, a world of equals, the respect to international law, a world without wars, hatred or menace of using the force. Belgrade’s conference, and those conferences and summits which came after it, started to brace NAM’s first phase, which arrived to the 1989 summit, also in Belgrade.
This first phase was characterized by the emergence, for the first time in the history of mankind, of a movement that was gathering, and gathered, all the rebellious fairness-striving consciousness of the world; all those different cultures, religions, cultural and historical heritages which sought a different world after the terror and holocaust generated by Nazism and fascism in the so-called Second World War, canalized all processes which seek independence, sovereignty, justice, equality and happiness of the people by articulating for the first time in history of mankind, I must repeat, all these movements in Africa, Latin America, Caribbean, Asia, Oceania and Europe.
It is the first phase of the bipolar world, which gave effect to the principles arisen in Bandung, which could later develop into concrete projects under the leadership of Nehru, Suharto, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Fidel Castro. Principles that allowed the positioning of the movement to take forward a set of accepted causes, and approved as such by the United Nations, like the new international economic order, the new information and communications order. It is a first phase characterized by the expansion of the Movement, its growing prestige, the strengthening and the emergence of a powerful movement for the decolonization and democratization of international relations.
There is also a second stage. If the first stage was the emergence of this powerful Movement during the development of the so-called bipolar world, the second stage, which began in 1990, is the most complex and tough stage that our Movement had to face. That is the stage of the emergence of the imposition of a uni-polar world politically, militarily, economically, financially. The stage of the end of ideologies and the imposition of the capitalist, wild, neoliberal model as the only model and the step of imposing forms of threats and wars for regime change; complex years of conflicts and confrontations where our Movement gave a huge demonstration of resilience, resistance, continuity, perseverance as never seen in the history of mankind.
And it is at the Summit of Kuala Lumpur in 2003 which is the beginning, from our perspective, of a new world that is in full swing with the emergence of new power blocs, new powers economically, politically, with the emergence of a new world geopolitics where our Movement began to revitalize the role again that it has to play for compliance with the principles of Bandung and the political, ideological, philosophical, cultural heritage of the Non-Aligned Movement.
It is with the Summit of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the Summit in Havana, Cuba; the Summit of Egypt and the Summit of the Islamic Republic of Iran, when there began the right possibility, nowadays a fact, of the emergence of a multipolar and multicentered world, which seeks the building of new institutional power relationships, transformations of the United Nations and the system of international relations and especially it allows for the emergence, the joint construction of a new system of economic, social, political and cultural relations from the perspective of the South, from the perspective and doctrine of South-South cooperation that is the core and key element, the backbone of the doctrine of the Non-Aligned Movement.
A third stage, currently in development since 2003 leads us to this year 2016, the preparation of this Summit. I want to acknowledge and congratulate particularly our ambassadors to the United Nations, senior officials and foreign ministers for the extraordinary work they have done in articulating all major issues of this era and bringing to us two fundamental instruments as outcome of this Summit.
First, the final document that includes all the assets of 17 summits with the core issues that have motivated the actions of struggle and construction of our Movement, and secondly the Declaration of Margarita which makes an extraordinary exercise to raise, reposition and prioritize the global agenda in the light of 2016, aiming at the rest of the decades to come in a masterly way that allows us to assume from the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a commitment that we want to call Venezuela Commitment, the Margarita Commitment, with key points of the international agenda in the context of the doctrine of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Firstly, accelerate the transformation processes of the UN system to achieve its true democratization, enlargement of the Security Council with the participation of major emerging powers from the South, democratization of management systems of governance and decision-making system of the United Nations.
The United Nations needs a profound transformation, a new foundation of the United Nations system and this movement has the strength, leadership and the votes to advance decisively in the process of realization and acceleration of these transformation processes.
Secondly, the Declaration of Margarita also reflects very clearly to retake the flags of the new international economic order in light of emerging organisations that have been born in the light of a powerful alliance with the BRICS as an emerging economic force in the world, in the light of an alliance between regional blocs that have already been established in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and South America.
Thirdly, the implementation of specific plans through our committees and working groups, particularly Agenda 2030 which for us is a high priority, to review the development in recent years. Indeed there has been progress in social indicators but the main challenges of the Agenda 2030 are overcoming the debts left by colonialism, neo colonialism, neo liberalism, and the savage system that have subjected the economies of our countries.
Fourth, this commitment of Margarita, is to resume the agenda of democratization of communication and information and the new international order in matters regarding communication. It is a flag that the Non-Aligned Movement has raised. There have been significant experiences in various regions. In our region Commander Chavez, along with the leadership of some key leaders in Latin America, founded the multistate Telesur and today, Telesur as a communicational experience is the window of truth of the struggles in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now is a special time for the process of today’s articulation of communicational power of our peoples, through the media, through social networks and through the battle of ideas.
Fifth, the momentum of an agenda for a culture of peace, the dialogue of civilizations, the defence of self-determination of peoples, against the agenda of interventionism, threats of war, unconventional models of intervention and regime change, let’s resume with force the agenda of dialogue between civilizations, promotion of culture, peace, and conflict resolution through diplomatic and political means.
Sixth, to strongly assume from the perspective of the South, the climate change agenda that should not end up being an agenda for the replacement of the economic model to build an equally savage capitalism, but a green agenda, as has been denounced by important environmental movements in the world. To assume a green agenda yes, but from the south, to the south, with the south, in a manner that will defend our peoples who are the victims of global warming and the capacity of destruction and pollution from the north that has been launched for more than a century against this planet Earth.
In seventh place, is the cause of the Palestinian people; we must continue persevering in our support of our brothers and sacred people of Palestine. Reviewing the documents from 1961 until today, it is a central issue that mankind has not resolved. Mankind has solved many issues including apartheid in South Africa. There was this movement at the time which liberated South Africa and humanity from apartheid. And what are we going to do with Palestine? We cannot get used to seeing the slaughter of the Palestinian people as a natural and normal slaughter about which no one reacts, or react only with official statements. We announce that with the moral strength of this powerful movement we will strengthen with our soul with our life and every means we can the cause of the Palestinian people.
Eighth, is another major cause that has lasted five decades. We have to continuously support Cuba until we see the dismantling of the blockade, of the economic and financial persecution against the brother people of Cuba. The moment is near, we will see it very soon; Cuba deserves not only the dismantling of this criminal financial, economic and commercial blockade but its people deserve reparations for all the damage that has been done during more than five decades. Therefore we strongly assume the cause of the struggle against the blockade.
Ninth, is the cause of decolonization of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican people are Caribbean, are Latin American. And there are enough resolutions in the United Nations system to endorse historically, legally, politically, culturally and humanly the cause of reclaim, the revival of the Puerto Rican people in a process of decolonization required and requested by the history of the struggle of our Latin America and the Caribbean.
Tenth, we propose the assumption as a central element, the solidarity and attention to the plight of refugees in Africa and the Middle East who are seeking a shelter of life and peace as they flee the war and destruction caused by imperialist bombs that have destroyed brotherly countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. We believe that our movement should take up this cause. It is a human drama. Thousands of our brothers every day, every hour perish fleeing hunger, death, extremism, terrorism, destabilization, changes of regimes, coups, the bombing in North Africa, the Middle East, and nobody wants to see the causes that have led to this catastrophe. So we believe that the commitment should lead us to take new initiatives for the resolution of the deep drama caused by the great migration of refugees.
Eleventh, is the fight against terrorism in all its forms, the fight against the war methods of unconventional character for changes in governments, for the destruction of countries. It is terrorism as well to subdue entire countries as a way of intervention causing their political, military, economic and communicational destabilization thus, we strongly assume, the taking of special initiatives for the struggle against terrorism in all its forms and ways.
This is the commitment that we assume to the Declaration of Margarita. You are arriving to a country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, suppressed every day to an imperialist attack to try to undermine the progress and achievements of the Bolivarian revolution that was founded by Hugo Chávez…You should know that the force that allowed the emergence of a new America is being subjected to an onslaught with methods of unconventional warfare as those Venezuela is facing today…
And there are other cases of destabilization attempt of our process. Some of the presidents we talked to yesterday told me that it is the price to pay for building a new world, and well, we will pay it so, we continue to pay it and we will continue moving forward and building.
In 1986, the NAM Summit of Harare appointed the South Commission chaired and established in 1987 by the former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.
The South Commission between 1987 and 1989 produced one of the most extraordinary works. It did it at the half-way mark, it was thinking about the world that existed in the first stage we quoted here, the expansion of our movement. The Soviet Union had not tumbled, the unipolar world had not been imposed and Julius Nyerere and the South Commission, they formulated a set of diagnoses, plans, proposals that have full passion and conviction. Our movement and the G-77 and China must review and take the flags, the tasks that were thought of in this commission there in the 80s and we believe it is time to push with all forces and make them a reality.
We propose as president of the Non-Aligned Movement, to circulate a special statement…
I dare here at this summit, to propose that the Non-Aligned Movement, takes on the proposal of President Julius Nyerere and the South Commission, to create a general secretariat of the South, a clear concept of the secretariat of the south as a coordination mechanism of the Non-Aligned Movement and permanent mechanism for coordination with the G-77 and China, the two powerful tools we have in the world to fight for our global interests from the south, to the south, with the south, which are noble interests, because our interest is not to colonize, not to plunder the people of any place on the planet.
It is the first proposal, to create the secretariat of the South, as executive body of coordination of the Non-Aligned Movement and for articulation and coordination with the G-77 + China.
Second, we propose to establish a Bank of the South, a concept of a development bank with financing from the south to the south. We have discussed quite a lot about this subject in South America and we have some early experiences, difficult, complex, but already in the process forward.
Thirdly, we propose to create with FAO and take up the idea of a project of food security and food sovereignty, knowing that it is one of the most serious problems we face….
I would like to greet the heirs to the legacy of the Commission, the South Centre based in Geneva present here. We believe that a special initiative must be taken in order for the Non-Aligned Movement to establish a body for consultation, participation of social movements of the south, and the countries of the Non-Aligned, in addition to the renewal of ideas, participation of our peoples, and the revival of active action with our peoples as protagonists of this struggle.
Therefore, we venture to propose these special resolutions in order to rescue the beautiful and extraordinary legacy of this flourishing first stage of expansion and development of our Non-Aligned Movement.
This summit has been convened under the beautiful slogan “For peace, for sovereignty”, under the motto “The South united for peace.”
A group of artists have given us this logo, a flourishing and multi-coloured tree expressing the diversity of our path taken, our future, and the birth of a new world. Seven thousand years of civilization, in which humanity has fought slavery, colonialism, feudalism and all forms of exploitation. Seven thousand years, however, only 60 years since it began blooming like a multi-coloured tree from all our cultures and our different ways of being. We take over this beautiful movement today under the direction and support of each one of you.
These are edited extracts of the opening speech by President Maduro which was originally delivered in Spanish and was translated into English by the Venezuelan authorities involved in the NAM summit.
South Centre and the NAM Summit
A delegation of the South Centre attended the 17th NAM Summit as an Observer organization. As an organization supporting the work of the NAM and G77 and China, the delegation gave interviews to local and international media on the value and importance of the NAM. A statement by the South Centre was also delivered at the plenary of the Summit. The delegation comprised of the Centre’s deputy executive director Vicente Paolo Yu and its senior programme officer for global governance, Adriano José Timossi.
The importance of the South Centre to NAM was given due recognition in the Final Outcome document of the Summit. In a section on South-South cooperation, the Final Outcome in Paragraph 618.9 stated that the Heads of State or Government agreed to reinforce the following measures:
“Reaffirm the central role of the South Centre as the think tank of the countries of the South, and emphasize its importance in enhancing South-South Cooperation through promoting solidarity and mutual understanding among the countries and peoples of the South; as well as providing the intellectual and policy support required by developing countries for collective and individual action in the international arena. In this context, the Members of the Movement are called upon to further support the South Centre, and the Centre should establish South-South networks among relevant institutions to facilitate the exchange of programmes, academia, and in supporting the Joint Coordinating Committee in the negotiating processes of major United Nations Conferences in the Economic and Social fields.”
President Maduro of Venezuela, at his opening speech, also mentioned the South Centre as one of the key organizations emerging from the work of the South Commission. He recalled the importance of the South Commission, which he said “did an extraordinary work”, and welcomed the participation of the South Centre delegation at the NAM Summit. He added that the South Commission had presented plans, proposals and recommendations that could be reviewed and implemented by the NAM and he proposed the establishment of a South Secretariat to act as a mechanism of coordination of NAM and as a mechanism of coordination with G77 and China.
As a follow up to the NAM Summit, the senior Venezuelan official coordinating the activities of the NAM Secretariat in Venezuela, Ruben Dario Molina, visited the South Centre in Geneva in October 2016. The South Centre’s Executive Director and other senior officials held a discussion with him on how the Centre would cooperate and collaborate with the NAM and its Presidency during the present three year term. Activities agreed on include research by the South Centre on issues of priority to NAM; the co-convening of meetings on these issues; and South Centre’s provision of support and technical assistance to NAM and its member states; and assistance in establishing a digital database on NAM.
During the meeting, the South Centre pledged its continued and strengthened support to NAM and its Secretariat and agreed to assist in various activities and on various issues.
South Centre Statement at the NAM Summit
Mr. President and chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates,
At the outset, let me express our deepest appreciation for our host, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its people, for their warm welcome in this beautiful Caribbean Island of Margarita and, to the outstanding effort they have put into the organization of what is already a very successful summit of a group of countries that represents nearly two thirds of the UN membership.
We congratulate the member countries of the Non Aligned Movement for having maintained unity and solidarity within the group and, for the holding of its 17th summit on a very timely theme of “Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development”.
The strong solidarity, which has guided this Movement in the past decades and its founding principles, are equally important and even more relevant today as it was fifty-five years ago.
We congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran for its successful stewardship of the movement in the past four years.
We also congratulate the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as the incoming chair of the NAM. You have our full support in making the next three years of your chairmanship a new era in the history of this important movement.
The South Centre, an intergovernmental and multilateral policy research and analysis think tank of the developing countries, created by the “Spirit of Bandung and NAM”, stands ready to continue working together with the NAM in its endeavours.
Since our establishment in Geneva in 1995, we have worked closely with NAM and its member states in many areas such as economic, social and environmental issues, in order to promote and make a real contribution to the key challenges facing developing countries and to a more just and equitable international order. We have also worked closely with NAM to highlight the importance of the right to development which commemorates 30 years of the adoption of its Declaration this year. We have supported and will continue supporting NAM in its efforts to defend a world in peace and solidarity for the development of all’s wellbeing.
Development and poverty eradication continue to be the main challenges that face the South. While the past three decades have seen great strides in the development of the South, that progress has not been widespread. It is also increasingly becoming more difficult to do so because of the many crises that developing countries are now facing such as climate change and other environmental crises, wars that impact on the peace and stability of developing countries, adverse global economic conditions arising from the responses of developed countries to the global financial crisis and, continuing structural economic deficiencies in international trade, investment, intellectual property, health and other policy regimes that make it difficult for developing countries to maintain their policy space for development.
In the face of these continuing development challenges to the South, the NAM together with other developing groupings such as the G77 and China and the many regional organizations that have emerged as an expression of south solidarity in the past decades inspired by the Bandung and NAM spirit, are more important than ever in fostering real development-oriented South-South cooperation, unity, and progress. The South Centre is committed to these objectives as well and we look forward to working closely with the NAM and its Member States in this regard.
Thank you for your attention.
Why the EPA is not beneficial to Tanzania
This article was published in The Daily News of Tanzania on 28 July 2016. In the article, the former Tanzanian President presents his views on why the Economic Partnership Agreement (which the European Union has been negotiating with African countries on a sub-regional basis) would be inappropriate for Tanzania.
By Benjamin William Mkapa
The EPA issue has once again re-emerged when Tanzania informed EAC Members and the EU that it would not be able to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and the six EAC Member States in early July.
The European Commission reportedly proposed signature of the EAC EPA in Nairobi, on the sidelines of the 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV).
This is a major quadrennial event where all UN Member States negotiate guidance for UNCTAD, a UN institution working on trade and development. For the European Commission, it would have been a propitious place for a signature ceremony in order to project the EPA as a ‘trade and development’ agreement to the benefit of EAC. Yet, the agreement is antithetical to Tanzania’s as well as the region’s trade and development prospects.
The EPA for Tanzania and the EAC never made much sense. The maths just never added up.
The costs for the country and the EAC region would have been higher than the benefits. As a Least Developed Country (LDC), Tanzania already enjoys the Everything but Arms (EBA) preference scheme provided by the European Union i.e. we can already export duty-free and quota-free to the EU market without providing the EU with similar market access terms.
If we sign the EPA, we would still get the same duty-free access, but in return, we would have to open up our markets also for EU exports.
Tanzania would reduce to zero tariffs on 90% of all its industrial goods trade with the EU i.e. duty-free access on almost all the EU’s non-agricultural products into the country.
Such a high level of liberalisation vis-à-vis a very competitive partner is likely to put our existing local industries in jeopardy and discourage the development of new industries. Research using trade data shows that Tanzania currently produces and exports on 983 tariff lines (at the HS 6 digit level). The EU produces and exports on over 5,000 tariff lines.
When the EPA is implemented, 335 of the 983 products we currently produce would be protected in the EPA’s ‘sensitive list’, but 648 tariff lines would be made duty-free; i.e. the existing industries on these 648 tariff lines would have to compete with the EU’s imports without the protection of tariffs. Will these sectors survive the competition?
These 648 tariff lines – the domestic sectors or industries, which are likely to be put at risk include agricultural products (e.g. maize products, cotton seed oil cake); chemical products (e.g. urea, fertilisers); vehicle industry parts (tires); medicaments; intermediate industrial products (e.g. plastic packing material, steel, iron and aluminium articles, wires and cables); parts of machines and final industrial products (e.g. weighing machines, metal rolling mills, drilling machines, transformers, generating sets, prefabricated buildings etc); parts of machines (parts of gas turbines, parts of cranes, work trucks, shovels, and other construction machinery, parts of machines for industrial preparation/ manufacturing of food, aircraft parts etc).
The list does not stop here. Liberalisation (zero tariffs) also applies to the many industrial sectors that Tanzania and the EAC do not yet have existing production/exports – about 3,102 tariff lines for Tanzania.
Threatening Regional Industrialisation and Trade
Statistics show that in fact, for the EAC region, the African market is the primary market for its manufactured exports. In contrast, 91% of its current trade with the EU is made up of primary commodity exports (agricultural products such as coffee, tea, spices, fruit and vegetables, fish, tobacco, hides and skins etc).
Only a minuscule 6% or about $200,000 of EAC exports to the EU is composed of manufactured goods. In contrast, of the total EAC exports to Africa, almost 50% is made up of manufactured exports – about $2.5 billion – according to 2013 – 2015 data. Of this, $1.5 billion are EAC country exports to other EAC countries.
These figures tell two stories: One; the importance of the African market for EAC’s aspirations to industrialise. In contrast, the EU market plays almost no role in this.Two; the EAC internal market makes up 60% of EAC’s manufactured exports to Africa, i.e., the EAC regional market is extremely valuable in supporting EAC’s industrialisation efforts.
The EPA would threaten this regional industrialisation opportunity that is currently blossoming since most EU manufactured products would enter the EAC market dutyfree. Just as our manufactured products are not competitive in the EU market, even though they can be exported duty-free, might it not be the case that when EU manufactured products can come duty-free into the EAC market, EAC manufactured products may also not sell? The EPA could in fact destroy our economic regional integration efforts.
The pains EAC has taken to build a regional market may instead help serve EU’s commercial interests by offering the EU one EAC market, rather than ensuring that that market can be accessed by our own producers.
Removing an Important Industrialisation Tool – No New Export Taxes
The other area where the EPA hits the heart of our industrialisation aspirations are its disciplines on export taxes. At the WTO, export taxes are completely legal.The logic of export taxes is to encourage producers to enter into value-added processing, hence encouraging diversification and the upgradation of production capacities. Developed countries themselves had used these policy tools when they were developing.
The EU has a raw materials initiative aimed at accessing non-agricultural raw materials found in other countries. According to the European Commission, ‘securing reliable and unhindered access to raw materials is important for the EU. In the EU, there are at least 30 million jobs depending on the availability of raw materials.’ In implementing this initiative, the EU has used trade agreements to discipline export taxes.
The EPA prohibits signatories from introducing new export taxes or increase existing ones. For Tanzania and the EAC region with its rich deposits of raw material, including tungsten, cobalt, tantalum etc; such disciplines in the long-run would be incongruent with our objective to industrialise and add value to our resources.
Losing Important Tariff Revenue – Shrinking the Government Coffer
The other area of loss resulting from the EPA is tariff revenue, and the numbers are not small. Conservative estimates (assuming import growth of 0.9% year on year) show that for the EAC as a whole tariff revenue losses would amount to $251 million a year by the end of the EPA’s implementation period. Cumulative tariff revenue losses would amount to USD 2.9 billion in the first 25 years of the EPA’s life.
For Tanzania, the losses based on 2013–2014 import figures are about $71 million a year by year 25. Cumulatively, just for Tanzania, they come up to $700 million over the first 25 years.
Where is the Promised Development Aid?
EU has made many promises that the EPA would be accompanied by development assistance. Hence the EAC EPA incorporates a ‘Development Matrix’ containing a list of economic development projects for the EAC. The price tag of implementing this Development Matrix is $70 billion.
The Matrix and assistance is to be reviewed every 5 years. For the time-being, the EU has pledged to contribute a paltry $3.49 million, which translates into 0.005% of the total required funds! This is also a far cry from the tariff revenue losses the region faces – the $251 million a year mentioned above.
EPA to Safeguard Kenya’s Flower Industry – A Fair Exchange?
The only area where the EPA is supposed to serve the interest of the EAC is by providing duty-free access to Kenya. As a non-LDC, Kenya does not have duty-free access via the EU’s EBA. Kenya’s main export item to the EU is flowers – just over $500,000 a year.
Without the EPA, Kenyan’s flowers would be charged a 10% customs duty. There are other Kenyan exports also – vegetables, fruit, fish – that will face tariffs. However, the flower industry has thus far been the most vocal. Nevertheless, all in all, Kenyan exports to the EU market (including the UK) amounts to about $1.5 billion.
If no EPA is signed, the extra duties charged to Kenyan exports amount to about $100 million a year. Is this worth signing an EPA for? — The avoidance of duties of $100 million? The tariff revenue losses as the EPA is implemented (and more tariff lines are liberalised) would be comparable.
This does not even include the tariff revenue losses of the other EAC LDCs, nor the challenges posed to domestic/ regional industries. In addition, the Brexit development is further reason for the region to pause and reconsider.
The UK is a major export market for Kenya, absorbing 28% of Kenya’s exports to the EU. This reduces the EPA’s supposed ‘benefits’ by a quarter for Kenya. There is a possible solution for Kenya – to apply for the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences Plus scheme (GSP+). Under this, almost all of Kenya’s current exports could enter EU duty-free including flowers and fish.
This option could be explored. Alternatively all EAC countries would do well to attempt to diversify production and exports away from primary commodities towards value-added products, and also to diversify our export destinations. Africa is a critical market for EAC’s manufactured goods. Regional integration and trade is the most promising avenue for EAC’s industrial development. The EPA would derail us from that promise.
Benjamin William Mkapa is a former President of Tanzania and the Chair of the South Centre Board.
Will TPPA fall victim to US political dynamics?
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement has become a political football in the US Presidential elections and with the public mood so against trade agreements, the TPPA faces the real possibility of being discarded.
By Martin Khor
No country was more active in pushing for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the five years of negotiations, the United States cajoled, persuaded and pressurised its trade partners to take on board its issues and positions.
Finally, when the TPP was signed in February 2016 by 12 countries, it was widely expected that the agreement will come into force within two years, after each country ratifies it.
But now there are growing doubts if the TPP will become a reality. Ironically it may become a victim of US political dynamics as the TPP has become a toxic issue in its Presidential elections.
Opposing the TPPA is at the centre of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign. He has declared the TPP would be a disaster, it would encourage US companies to move their production abroad and weaken domestic jobs, and he called for the US to withdraw from the agreement. In his typical extreme style, Trump said at a recent rally that the TPP “is another disaster, done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country.”
Bernie Sanders, the Democrat Presidential candidate who ran a surprisingly close contest with Hillary Clinton, championed the anti-TPP cause, saying: “We shouldn’t re-negotiate the TPP. We should kill this unfettered FTA which would cost us nearly half a million jobs.”
The Democrats’ Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also came out against the TPPA, a turn-around from her position when as Secretary of State she described it as a gold-standard agreement. To counter accusations and suspicions that she would again switch positions if she becomes President, Clinton stated: “I am against the TPP, and that means before and after the elections.”
Her campaign chairman John Podesta was more explicit. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Podesta said Clinton as president likely wouldn’t seek to rework existing trade agreements such as the TPP but instead move to adopt a new model for global deals.
“We need a new approach to trade. We’re not about renegotiation. We’re not kind of interested in that. We’re interested in a new approach,” he said, in words that echoed Sanders’ position.
The Presidential candidates may all be responding to popular sentiment that trade agreements have caused the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, stagnation in wages and contributed to the unfair distribution of benefits in US society, much of which has accrued to the top 1 or 10 per cent of income earners.
An article in The New York Times (29 July 2016) began as follows: “Democrats and Republicans agreed on almost nothing at their conventions this month, except this: free trade, just a decade ago the bedrock of the economic agendas of both parties, is now a political pariah.”
Besides the Presidential candidates, two other players will decide the TPPA’s fate: President Obama and the US Congress.
Obama has been the TPPA’s main champion, passionately arguing that it will bring economic benefits, raise environmental and labour standards and give the US an advantage over China in Asian geo-politics.
Considering the TPP to be a key legacy of his presidency, Obama wants Congress to ratify the agreement before his term ends. But he has been unable to get the bill tabled because it would be certainly defeated in this election season, given the TPP’s unpopularity.
His last opportunity is to get the TPP passed during the lame-duck Congress session after the election on 8 November and before mid-January 2017.
However, it is uncertain whether there is enough support to table a lame-duck TPP bill, and if tabled whether it will pass.
Last year, a related fast-track trade authority bill was adopted with only slim majorities. Now, with the concrete TPPA before them, and the swing in mood, some Congress members who voted for fast track are indicating they won’t vote for TPP.
For example, Clinton’s running mate for Vice President, Senator Tim Kaine, who supported fast track has now proclaimed his opposition to TPP. Other leading Democrats who have publicly denounced TPP include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Sandy Levin who said: “It is now increasingly clear that the TPP agreement will not receive a vote in Congress this year, including in any lame duck session, and if it did, it would fail.”
Congress Republican leaders have also voiced their opposition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell said that the presidential campaign had produced a political climate that made it virtually impossible to pass the TPP in the “lame duck” session.
House Speaker, Republican Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) who played a leading role in writing the fast-track bill, said he sees no reason to bring TPP to the floor for a vote in the lame duck session because “we don’t have the votes.”
Meanwhile, six House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama in early August last week urging him not to try to move TPP in a “Lame Duck”.
Though the picture thus looks grim for Obama, he should not be under-estimated. He said when the elections are over he will be able to convince Congress to vote for the TPP.
“I will actually sit down with people on both sides, on the right and on the left,” he told the media. “We’ll go through the whole provisions….I’m really confident I can make the case this is good for American workers and the American people.” He added many people thought he would fail to obtain the fast track legislation, but he succeeded.
On 12 August, the Obama administration submitted a draft Statement of Administration Action, as required by the fast-track process for introducing a TPP bill. The document describes the steps the administration will take to implement changes to U.S. law required by the TPP. Obama can later send a final statement and the draft of the implementing bill describing the actual changes to US law needed to comply with the TPP agreement.
Following that, a lot of deal-making is expected between the President and Congress members. Obama will doubtless offer incentives or privileges to some of the demanding Congress members in order to obtain their votes, as was seen in the fast-track process.
To win over Congress, Obama will have to respond to those on the right and left who are upset on specific issues. The President is teaming up with the Republican Congress leaders, who however want him to fix some issues. They are upset about the term of five years (instead of 8 or 12 years) for data exclusivity for companies owning biologic drugs, and the exclusion of tobacco companies from the use of ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) in the TPP.
To pacify them, Obama will have to convince them that what they want will anyway be achieved, even if these are not legally part of the TPP because the TPP text cannot be amended.
He can try to achieve this through bilateral side agreements on specific issues. Or he can insist that some countries take on extra obligations beyond what is required by the TPP as a condition for obtaining a US certification that they have fulfilled their TPP obligations. This certification is required for the US to provide the TPP’s benefits to its partners, and the US has previously made use of this process to get countries to take on additional obligations, which can then be shown to Congress members that their objectives have been met.
Obama could theoretically also re-negotiate to amend specific clauses of the TPP in order to appease Congress. But this option will be unacceptable to the other TPP countries.
In June, Malaysia rejected any notion of renegotiating the TPPA. The question of renegotiating the TPPA does not arise even if there are such indications by US presidential candidates, said Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, then the secretary general of the International Trade and Industry Ministry.
“If the US does not ratify the TPPA then it will not be implemented,” she said. The other TPP members would have to resort to a “different form of cooperation.”
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on a visit in August to Washington, dismissed any possibility of reopening parts of the TPP as some Congress members are seeking. “Nobody wants to reopen negotiations,” he said. “We have no prospect of doing better and every chance of having it fall apart.”
In January, Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said a renegotiation of the TPP is not possible. Japan also rejected renegotiations, which it defined as including changing existing side agreements or adding new ones. This is not going to happen, said Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission Atsuyuki Oike.
What happens if the US Congress does not adopt the TPP during the lame-duck period? The 12 countries that signed the agreement in February are given 2 years to ratify it.
Enough countries to account for 85% of the combined GNP of the 12 countries must ratify it for the TPP to come into force. As the US accounts for over 15% of the combined GNP, a prolonged non-ratification by it would effectively kill the TPPA.
Theoretically, if the TPP is not ratified this year, a new US President can try to get Congress to adopt it in the next year. But now it looks like the chances for this happening are very slim.
That’s why the TPP must be passed during the lame duck session. If it fails to do so, it would mark the dramatic change in public opinion on the benefits of free trade agreements in the United States, the land that pioneered the modern comprehensive free trade agreements.