Azerbaijan`s chairmanship: Baku giving new stimulus to Non-Aligned Movement

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Baku, 16 August 2019 –

In the middle of the last century the world was searching for mechanisms to regulate the system of international relations. The establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1955 was a crucial outcome of those efforts. Its fundamental principles were adopted at the founding non-aligned summit in Belgrade in 1961. These principles included establishing global peace, tranquility, peaceful co-existence and principles of fair cooperation. Experience showed that the world needed such an organization badly. Although interest in the Non-Aligned Movement decreased after the Cold War to some extent, later processes highlighted global need in this organization. Many countries are therefore interested in the Non-Aligned Movement becoming stronger. Azerbaijan is assuming two-year chairmanship of the organization this year. This article will analyze the geopolitical aspect of the Non-Aligned Movement`s activity in the context of Azerbaijan`s chairmanship.

Towards a fair world: "unity born out of necessity''

The complexity, contradictions and risks of the global geopolitical picture have long been the focus of attention for experts and politicians. The world is concerned about how to live in peace. International organizations are urged to increase their role. Some even accuse the United Nations of being inactive. Among key conditions here is that countries must obey norms and principles of international law and adhere strictly to sincerity and fairness in cooperation. The second largest international organization after the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement is of crucial importance in this regard.

This organization was founded in 1955, 10 years after the United Nations was established. Late President of Indonesia Sukarno was one of the founding fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement. He headed Indonesia for 22 years. Sukarno then described the organization as "unity born out of necessity". But why?

The Second World War resulted in the division of the world into two hostile camps – the West and the Soviet Union. It was clear that ensuring justice in international relations, rule of law and peaceful co-existence of nations would be extremely difficult under such circumstances. In particular, numerous countries had their interests disregarded, and it was impossible to take an unbiased attitude.

There was a crying need for an international organization that would ensure interests of all the countries beyond the two hostile camps, and that would take a fair, unprejudiced and constructive approach. This organization would also encourage the emergence of a geopolitical and diplomatic environment beyond growing US-USSR rivalry. It is why the organization is called the Non-Aligned Movement. And it was logical that the organization was founded at the Bandung Conference of Asian and African countries.

Its member states prefer not to be officially aligned with or against any major power bloc, and adhere to the principles of independence and equality of nations and peaceful coexistence. The Bandung Conference ended with the adoption of the declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation. The 10-point declaration incorporating the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for human rights, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country, respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations, refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.

These very principles were also set forth in the declaration of the Belgrade Conference of 1961. Member states of the Non-Aligned Movement ignore dictatorship in international relations, hegemony and expansionism, and recognize the need for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, and a new economic order based on justice and equality before the law.

Experience shows that the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement on the basis of the aforementioned principles was benefit to the world as it needed those principles both during and after the Cold War. The importance of the Non-Aligned Movement has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the 21st century. It now has 120 member states.

Active position: Another example of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 2011. The country will chair the organization in 2019-2021. President Ilham Aliyev`s historic Order of February 11, 2019 emphasized the foreign policy advantages that Azerbaijan had derived since becoming a member of the organization. The Order said membership of the Non-Aligned Movement encouraged Azerbaijan`s involvement in international peace, security and cooperation processes. It also contributed to the development of bilateral and multilateral relations with the majority of countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

In addition, the Non-Aligned Movement allowed Azerbaijan to play a more active role in regional and global geopolitical processes. At the regional level, this means wider opportunities for solving – in a fair manner and in compliance with international law – the conflict caused by Armenia`s aggression against Azerbaijan. The world`s 120 countries displaying solidarity in stopping the aggressor is a very serious occasion. And it is not confined just to words as there are certain mechanisms for putting it into action. The Non-Aligned Movement can appeal to superpowers to address the problem.

Ministers of the organization`s member states issued a call in which they reaffirmed the importance of the principle of non-use of force, which is enshrined in the UN Charter. In this context, they affirmed the necessity of solving the problem through talks on the basis of Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity, sovereignty and internationally-recognized borders. Of course, this call issued by 120 countries, which account for 55percent of the world population, is of great geopolitical significance.

At a global scale, the organization may contribute to the establishment of peaceful and civil coexistence. In this context, President Ilham Aliyev`s remarks at the Mid-Term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku in 2018 are very interesting and important. The head of state said: "We need to support each other. We have more or less similar challenges in front of us, similar problems, more or less similar past. We all want to live independent life, we all want to live our own life. We all do not want someone to tell us what to do, to interfere into our affairs, to dictate us. In order to do it we must be strong. And we can be strong only together.''

These remarks seem extremely relevant against a background of the ongoing geopolitical developments and the need for a new world order. Political leaders point out deepening geopolitical confrontations and the ensuing chaos. This naturally has a negative impact on the formation of a new world order. Any initiative that would encourage the establishment of a new world order is nowadays commendable.

The summit of the heads of state and government of the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement that would be held in Baku on October 25-26 is therefore of great importance. Azerbaijan`s taking the chairmanship of such an influential organization is an additional opportunity for the entire humanity. Undoubtedly, at the summit Baku will prioritize the issues that are topical for all countries. In the current tumultuous situation, it is principally crucial to promote adherence to the principles of international law. New opportunities are opening for Azerbaijan for solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with international law. Baku will definitely try to use this opportunity to the maximum.

Azerbaijan`s chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement will also be advantageous for the South Caucasus in general. In addition to being the regional leader, Azerbaijan is distinguished from other countries by its activity based on different mutually beneficial cooperation formats. So the forthcoming chairmanship will offer Azerbaijan ample opportunities.

What should also be emphasized is that recognition of Azerbaijan`s activities as part of the Non-Aligned Movement is the triumph of the policy pursued by the country`s leadership. No other country has made similar achievements. As the leader of the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan will continue its constructive activity in all areas.

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