Cuba is currently the president of the Non-Aligned Movement which is holding a ministerial meeting in Havana this week in preparation for a heads of state NAM meeting in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, July 11-16, 2009. Raul Castro gave an excellent speech at the ministerial meeting. Since not everyone may be familiar with the NAM and its origins, I am providing an excerpt on the history of the movement from the NAM website. This background is followed directly by Raul’s speech.
Finally, to pump yourself up for all this reading, check out this short video featuring Che in a speech he made in 1965 talking about the beast that is imperialism!
The Non-Aligned Movement ( NAM) was created and founded during the collapse of the colonial system and the independence struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world and at the height of the Cold War. During the early days of the Movement, its actions were a key factor in the decolonization process, which led later to the attainment of freedom and independence by many countries and peoples and to the founding of tens of new sovereign States. Throughout its history, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries has played a fundamental role in the preservation of world peace and security.
While some meetings with a third-world perspective were held before 1955, historians consider that the Bandung Asian-African Conference is the most immediate antecedent to the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement. This Conference was held in Bandung on April 18-24, 1955 and gathered 29 Heads of States belonging to the first post-colonial generation of leaders from the two continents with the aim of identifying and assessing world issues at the time and pursuing out joint policies in international relations.
The principles that would govern relations among large and small nations, known as the “Ten Principles of Bandung”, were proclaimed at that Conference. Such principles were adopted later as the main goals and objectives of the policy of non-alignment. The fulfillment of those principles became the essential criterion for Non-Aligned Movement membership; it is what was known as the “quintessence of the Movement” until the early 1990s.
In 1960, in the light of the results achieved in Bandung, the creation of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries was given a decisive boost during the Fifteenth Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, during which 17 new African and Asian countries were admitted. A key role was played in this process by the then Heads of State and Government Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Ahmed Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, who later became the founding fathers of the movement and its emblematic leaders.
Six years after Bandung, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries was founded on a wider geographical basis at the First Summit Conference of Belgrade, which was held on September 1-6, 1961. The Conference was attended by 25 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cambodia, Srilanka, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yugoslavia.
The Founders of NAM have preferred to declare it as a movement but not an organization in order to avoid bureaucratic implications of the latter.
The membership criteria formulated during the Preparatory Conference to the Belgrade Summit (Cairo, 1961) show that the Movement was not conceived to play a passive role in international politics but to formulate its own positions in an independent manner so as to reflect the interests of its members.
Thus, the primary of objectives of the non-aligned countries focused on the support of self-determination, national independence and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States; opposition to apartheid; non-adherence to multilateral military pacts and the independence of non-aligned countries from great power or block influences and rivalries; the struggle against imperialism in all its forms and manifestations; the struggle against colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, foreign occupation and domination; disarmament; non-interference into the internal affairs of States and peaceful coexistence among all nations; rejection of the use or threat of use of force in international relations; the strengthening of the United Nations; the democratization of international relations; socioeconomic development and the restructuring of the international economic system; as well as international cooperation on an equal footing.
Since its inception, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries has waged a ceaseless battle to ensure that peoples being oppressed by foreign occupation and domination can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries played a key role in the struggle for the establishment of a new international economic order that allowed all the peoples of the world to make use of their wealth and natural resources and provided a wide platform for a fundamental change in international economic relations and the economic emancipation of the countries of the South.
During its nearly 50 years of existence, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries has gathered a growing number of States and liberation movements which, in spite of their ideological, political, economic, social and cultural diversity, have accepted its founding principles and primary objectives and shown their readiness to realize them. Historically, the non-aligned countries have shown their ability to overcome their differences and found a common ground for action that leads to mutual cooperation and the upholding of their shared values.
- Respect of fundamental human rights and of the objectives and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
- Respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
- Recognition of the equality among all races and of the equality among all nations, both large and small.
- Non-intervention or non-interference into the internal affairs of another -country.
- Respect of the right of every nation to defend itself, either individually or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- A. Non-use of collective defense pacts to benefit the specific interests of any of the great powers.
B. Non-use of pressures by any country against other countries.
- Refraining from carrying out or threatening to carry out aggression, or from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
- Peaceful solution of all international conflicts in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
- Promotion of mutual interests and of cooperation.
- Respect of justice and of international obligations.
Raul Castro’s Speech at the Ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on April 28, 2009
Our movement’s greatest strength lies in its unity.
• “I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the Non-Aligned Movement will continue to be a fundamental and constructive factor in international debates. Cuba will continue its undertaking to contribute to that objective,” affirms General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the ministerial meeting of the NAM Coordination Bureau, Havana, April 29, 2009
DISTINGUISHED attendees at this ministerial meeting:
It is an honor for our people and government to welcome once again a high-level meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. Two years and six months have passed since the 14th Summit of Heads of State and Government took place in this same hall, in September 2006.
At that time, I said:
“On the solid foundations of our historic victories in the struggle for decolonization and for the disappearance of apartheid; with the rich experience of our efforts for a new international economic order and for peace, disarmament and the true exercise of the right to development, the Non-Aligned Movement now will have heroic battles to wage against the unilateralism, double standards and impunity of the powerful; for a more just and equitable international order against neoliberalism, plunder and dispossession; for the survival of the human species in face of the irrational consumerism of the rich countries.”
The challenges identified on that occasion not only remain, but have become more dangerous and urgent. Therefore, the need for the movement to act in a coordinated way is today more vital and compelling. We are being affected by a profound economic, social, food, energy and environmental crisis which has taken on a global character. International debates are increasing, but not with the participation of all countries. There is a growing awareness that short-term solutions must be found; however, just and enduring ones are yet to be achieved.
If we do not act with the required firmness and urgency, it will be our peoples who once again suffer, for a longer time, the worst consequences of this crisis.
It is impossible to maintain the unjust and irrational patterns of consumption that served as the basis for the current international order, imposed by a few and that we have been forced to respect. It is not legitimately or ethically acceptable to have a global order inspired by hegemonic desires and the egotism of privileged minorities. A system that destroys the environment and fosters unequal access to wealth is not an enduring one. Underdevelopment is an inevitable consequence of the current world order.
Neoliberalism as an economic policy has failed. The myth about the virtues of the market and its deregulation, the supposed benefits of privatization and the reduction of the state’s economic and redistributive capacities, the credibility of financial institutions, are today profoundly questioned in any objective analysis.
When Cuba became president of the Non-Aligned Movement for the first time in 1979, 30 years ago, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, warned of the negative consequences of spending more than $300 billion on weapons and the existence of the foreign debt of underdeveloped countries totaling a similar amount.
On that occasion, Fidel estimated that with that figure, it would have been possible at the time, and I quote, “to build 600,000 homes in one year with a capacity for 400 million children; or 60 million comfortable homes with a capacity for 300 million people; or 30,000 hospitals with 18 million beds; or 20,000 factories capable of generating jobs for more than 20 million workers; or to furnish irrigation to 150 million hectares of land, which, with an appropriate technical level, could feed one billion people,” he concluded.
Of course, nothing was done and the situation has become drastically worse. Suffice it to say that annual military spending is currently in excess of $1 trillion; the number of unemployed in the world could rise to 230 million over the course of 2009; and in just one year, in 2008, the number of hungry people in the world increased from 854 million to 963 million.
The UN estimates that $80 billion annually for a decade would be enough to end poverty, hunger and a lack of health and education services and housing all over the planet. That total is three times less than what the countries of the South spend on their foreign debt.
A fundamental change in the system of international economic relations is absolutely essential. Almost 30 years ago, that was the demand of the member nations of our movement in conceiving the Declaration and the Action Program for the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, passed in the sixth extraordinary period of sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in May 1974.
Overcoming the global economic crisis requires coordinated action, with universal, democratic and equitable participation by all countries. The answer cannot be a solution negotiated behind the back of the United Nations by the leaders of the most powerful countries.
Nor does the G-20 solution of strengthening the role and functions of the International Monetary Fund, whose disastrous policies decisively contributed to the genesis of the present crisis and aggravated it, solve the inequality, injustices and unsustainability of the current system.
The United Nations High-Level Conference on the economic and financial crisis and its impact on development, scheduled for June 1-3, 2009, constitutes an essential framework for discussing and seeking consensus solutions to this grave situation. The Non-Aligned Movement must support this meeting.
Since its foundation, this Movement has demonstrated its will to work for peace, the security of the community of nations and the defense of international law. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction – in the first place achieving nuclear disarmament – continues to be a priority task.
The exercise of multilateralism requires strict respect for the sovereignty of states, their territorial integrity and the self-determination of nations. It likewise requires dispensing with the threat and use of force in international relations, hegemonic aspirations and imperial conduct. It requires an end to foreign occupation and denies any impunity for criminal acts of aggression, such as those that Israel has executed against the Palestinian people.
The Movement must involve itself in all the important debates on the international agenda, in different multilateral headquarters and forums, with the widest participation of its member countries. Never to compete with other forms of representation of the countries of the South, but to strengthen and complement them.
We need to continue constantly improving the working methods of the Movement. Fulfilling the Plan of Action that we have drawn up constitutes an indispensable tool in determining our priorities and the tasks to be fulfilled.
We must all work from now on to ensure a successful 15th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Egypt this July. To critically assess what has been effected to date and to draw up objectives and goals to respond to current and future problems and challenges.
Finally, I should like to express, on behalf of Cuba, the sincere thanks of our government and all of our people for the firm and invariable support of the Non-Aligned Movement with the Cuban Revolution and, in particular, for its constant demand for an end to the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade on the part of the United States.
While the measures recently announced by President Obama are positive, their reach is minimal. The blockade has remained intact. There is no political or moral pretext that can justify the continuity of that policy. Cuba has not imposed any sanctions whatsoever on the United States or against its citizens. It is not Cuba that is preventing entrepreneurs from that country from doing business with us. It is not Cuba that is hunting down financial transactions carried out by U.S. banks. It is not Cuba who has a military base on United States territory against the will of its people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, so as not to make the list interminable; therefore, it is not Cuba that has to make gestures.
We have reiterated that we are disposed to talk about everything with the government of the United States, in conditions of equality, but not to negotiate our sovereignty or our political and social system, our right to self-determination or our internal affairs.
And if they want to discuss all that – as we recently stated in Venezuela, at an ALBA Summit – to discuss everything, everything, everything of ours, but also of theirs, in conditions of equality.
The greatest strength of our Movement lies in its unity within the diversity that characterizes us. That has been the fundamental premise of the exercise of the Cuban presidency during these close to three years of its mandate.
I do not have the slightest doubt that the Non-Aligned Movement will continue to be a fundamental and constructive actor in international debates. Cuba will maintain its undertaking to contribute to that objective.
I wish you every success in this Ministerial Meeting.
Thank you very much.
Translated by Granma International