THE 13th Non-Aligned Movement Summit begins in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow in perhaps one of the most dangerous times in the new millennium.
As the heads of government of the member countries take their seats at the Putra World Trade Centre, a US-led war against Iraq is just a click away, so to speak. And, God forbid, we could possibly be dragged to the brink of the third world war.
NAM was born in Belgrade in 1961 during the Cold War when the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, fought for world domination.
It was a gathering of 25 newly independent Asian and African countries not aligned to either of the two superpowers trying to make a difference.
Today, the world has gone through a sea of change. The Cold War is dead, USSR demolished and Washington has been enthroned as the sole superpower.
So, instead of bipolar politics, we live in a unipolar world with a set of new challenges brought about by continued global political, military, economic and even cultural manoeuvrings.
And that makes NAM even more relevant.
With a total of 114 members, NAM is today the largest political forum outside the United Nations, comprising almost all the less developed and developing Asian and African nations.
As they are often the victims of world calamities, whether man-made or natural, they must uphold NAM as a movement for peace and orderly economic development and co-operation.
The theme chosen for NAM 2003 is Revitalising the Non-Aligned Movement. It should be a rallying call to all member countries to renew their commitment to make the forum more vibrant, proactive, effective, and impactful after years of almost dormant existence.
The summit would be seen to be less than successful if it fails to set an agenda for world peace and formulate a programme for an orderly economic development and co-operation.
In its commitment to peace, it must repudiate war and terrorism, and in its commitment to an orderly economic co-operation and development, it must offer a solution to the chaotic and often damaging globalisation.
To achieve these goals, Malaysia’s suggestion of a permanent secretariat is worthy of serious consideration in order to express the hopes and aspirations of the Third World.
The movement must be united in purpose, speak with one voice and send a clear message to the world at large to make a difference.
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