Within this global scenario, the practice of nonalignmeist becomes difficult because there is no longer the space for maneuvering nor does there exist the intermediatory role. Nevertheless, there is a vital need for its practice, precisely because the developing countries of the South need to assert their independence and act together, if they are not to be totally overwhelmed by the North.
The imperatives for a revitalized Non-aligned Movement springs from many sources for the developing countries this multipolarity presents an uncertain, complex and gloomy environment in which there may not be many new opportunities, but increased vulnerability.
At present there seems to be no change of the developing countries being able to exploit the differences that are seen among the major economic powers. Of course, the situation may change in the medium or long-term.
The Third World countries are also being pressurized to agree to all the demand of the developed world on the question of opening of markets and intellectual property rights, even though the fact of the matter is that trends towards protectionism are rising in the developed countries at the time when most of the developing countries are seriously reforming their economies and providing for market deregulation.
So also is the impression being fostered that the Third World is somehow responsible for environmental pollution when actually it is the wanton wastage of resources by the Northern countries that has been the chief source of environmental degradation.
The Northern governments are bent upon maintaining their unsustainable production and consumption systems.
At the same time, they expect the Southern governments to make all the adjustments and sacrifices necessary to keep the environment safe for the North.
Now the prospects of the North imposing sanctions and other punitive measures on the South in the name of environmental protection loom large before us.
Thirdly, there is a tendency on the part of the developed countries to impose stringent restrictions on the transfer of technology to the developing countries.
The ever-growing list of items subjected to the so-called dual use restrictions effectively threatens to deprave the developing countries of the fruits of technological progress in many key areas.
Such restrictions have come to cover everything from computers to machine tools, to specialized alloys to chemicals and even to medical equipment.
They are imposed in the name of preventing proliferation even though the major responsibility for proliferation often rests with the very countries that are imposing the restrictions. This is extremely unfair.
Fourthly, the world continues to be divided into the nuclear ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. The nuclear ‘haves’ seem to be determined to retain their arsenals of the nuclear weapons, albeit on a reduced scale and to prevent others from acquiring such weapons.
The irony is that the targets of nuclear weapons are now the countries of the Third World as these are being looked upon as the main threat to the security of the nuclear-weapons powers.
Instead of being discarded after the end of the Cold War, deterrence is being retained and honed for being used discriminately against the countries of the Third World.
The countries of the Third World are now under tremendous pressure to desist from developing weapons of mass destruction and to reduce their alleged excessive military expenditure.
Fifthly, instead of revitalizing multilateralism under the United Nations, the new alliance headed by the United States has successfully mounted an all out campaign to destroy the multilateral character of the world body to alter its agenda and to undermine its functioning to certain areas.
Hardcore economic issues like the removal of poverty, developmental plans, trade, money, finance and debt have been taken off the agenda of the United Nations and transferred to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), over which they have greater control and which permit them to use cross- conditionality’s and cross-relation.
Organisation forming parts of the UN family are being held in leash through denial of the finances due to them. And in the UN Security Council, it is the permanent members which, acting in close cooperation, take all the decisions affecting world peace and security.
There are a number of ad hoc discriminatory regimes aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These include regimes for chemical weapons (the ‘Australian Club), nuclear weapons “London Supplier Group” (LSG) and Missiles (the Missile Technology Control Regimes, or MTCR).
The lists of dual purpose technologies, substances and equipment which cannot be exported to the countries of the Third World under these regimes are so extensive as to have the effect of freezing the technological and industrial development of the developing countries in those vital areas.
It is also very difficult to judge whether the restrictions applied in any particular case are motivated by the commercial consideration of preventing the country concerned from developing competitive capacity or by the consideration of ensuring nonproliferation. These regimes have no sanction of international law.
As they are outside the United Nations and their membership is restricted, they have the effect of undermining multilateralism.
All the Third World countries are facing today the threat of the disintegration of nation-states. The examples are Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
Being sure of their own national integrity, which is underpinned by their military power or that of their allies and in view of their own relative political stability and economic prosperity, the countries of the new alliances have started espousing causes and championing principles aimed to encourage fissiparous tendencies in those countries of the Third World where the economic and political situation is far from stable.
This may lead to further disintegration of nation-states; recently discovered enthusiasm of the new alliance for self determination use its political and economic leverage to interfere in the affairs of other states in the name of human rights and good governance and the sanctions that it has successfully sought for intervention in other countries on humanitarian grounds-are all pointers in this direction.
Sovereignty, of late, has never been absolute, but now it is being subjected to further curtailment and abridgement.
Then, there is a trend at present in the field of trade to resort increasingly to unilateral and bilateral coercive measures as exemplified in the application of the Special and Super 301 of the US Trade and Competitiveness Act, to negotiate reciprocal access to markets and to use cross-retaliation.
This practice has not been stopped even after signing the GATT Treaty at Marrakesh by 115 countries including America in April, 1994. Moreover, the attempt by the developed countries to raise new issues not directly linked to trade, such as labour standards, social conditions and environment at the recently concluded GATT Treaty clearly proves that the newly formed world trading system is not likely to serve any better the interests of the developing countries.
The above analysis shows that with the end of the Cold War, the threat to and pressure on the independence of the non-aligned countries have assumed new forms.
The present negative trends in the world are contrary to the aims and objectives of the Non-aligned Movements for a just, equitable and democratic world order. None of the NAM countries or group of countries, however, big or rich they may be can face these new realities alone.
Hence, the countries of NAM must continue to stay and act together for common thought and action. But question is how to bell the cat?
The answer is the non-aligned countries can reverse the above negative trends by three important ways:
(a) Reforming and strengthening the United Nations;
(b) Encouraging South-South Cooperation; and
(c) Consolidating the Movement through necessary reforms.
Thus the realities of current global politics make non-alignment equally relevant today for the developing countries of the world as it was during the Cold War period.
However, while Non-alignment continues to be relevant, the role of the Non-aligned Movement in current global affairs has been somewhat declining.
The NAM could not first prevent the conflict between two of its members- Iraq and Kuwait and neither could it play an effective role in the subsequent Gulf crises. Nor could it halt the civil war in Yugoslavia, itself an important member.
One of the reasons for its inefficiency is that today the NAM is faced with serious internal problems. Some of these include the membership criteria which are too liberal and often violated the lack of self discipline amongst its members, the weaknesses in the method of consensus and the nation.
In early years she strongly condemned nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and stood for use of nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes. But frustrations on foreign policy issues, changing international climate and threats from nearby countries led India to embark on path of nuclear weaponisation.