Foundation Date: 1961
Member Countries: 120 as of 2012
The first Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State, at which 25 countries were represented, was convened at Belgrade in September 1961, largely through the initiative of Yugoslavian President Tito. He had expressed concern that an accelerating arms race might result in war between the Soviet Union and the USA.
Subsequent conferences involved ever-increasing participation by developing countries. The 1964 Conference in Cairo, with 47 countries represented, featured widespread condemnation of Western colonialism and the retention of foreign military installations. Thereafter, the focus shifted away from essentially political issues, to the advocacy of solutions to global economic and other problems.
The founders of the Non-Aligned Movement and their successors recognised that the Movement would probably be destroyed if they created such formal structures for the Movement as a constitution and internal secretariat. A multilateral trans-national organisation made up of states with differing ideologies and purposes could never create a rational administrative structure to implement its policies that all could accept.
The Non-Aligned Movement has created a unique form of administrative style. Non-Aligned administration is non-hierarchical, rotational and inclusive, providing all member states, regardless of size and importance, with an opportunity to participate in global decision-making and world politics. The Summit is the occasion when the Movement formally rotates its Chair to the Head of State of the host country of the Summit, who then holds office until the next Summit. The Chair is at the same time also delegated certain responsibilities for promoting the principles and activities of the Movement.
By creating the practice of a rotating chair, Non-Aligned countries therefore place the onus of an administrative structure on the country assuming the Chair. When a country assumes the Chair of the Movement, it creates or designates an entire section of the Foreign Ministry to deal specifically with Non-Aligned issues. Secondly, since Non-Aligned countries meet regularly at the UN and conduct much of their work there, the Chairs' Ambassador at the United Nations essentially functions as the "Minister of Non-Aligned Affairs". The work of the non-aligned often consumes the activities of the Chairs' Permanent Mission in New York.
To facilitate the Chairs' responsibilities a number of structures aimed at improving the coordination and functioning of the existing Working Groups, Contact Groups, Task Forces and Committees of NAM were created. The structures also exist in order to promote the process of achieving a commonality of positions and interests and to see to it that Non-Aligned countries speak with one voice in international meetings and negotiations.
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