Tuesday 5 April 2022 8:06 PM UTC
Dr Cyriac Maprayil
LONDON April 5: We witnessed the survival of the world through the Cold War years, thanks to the stamina, vision and consistency of purpose displayed by the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). In the words of the late VK Krishna Menon, “The Non-Aligned Movement originated under the leadership of Nehru of India, Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, Nkrumah of Ghana and Nasser of Egypt.
Their remarkable achievement has been the creation of a coalition of states from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Arab world and Latin America and the Caribbean which has grown from its original 25 to over 100 members…One of the first principles of non-alignment is peace and disarmament.
Historically the movement has sought to reduce tensions between the major powers. From its inception, the movement has been opposed to the development of military blocs and the attempts by the major powers to compartmentalise the world into spheres of influence.” (AW Singham and S Hune, Non-aligned in an Age of Alignments, pp 13-15).
Unfortunately the non-aligned movement is no longer able to negotiate as impartial outsiders leaving organisations like the UN with even more responsibility to be able to negotiate proactively in the face of crisis.
However when Iraq was invaded by two permanent members of the security council without providing adequate proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion, as Kofi Annan wrote, “For much of the global community in those days – shocking though this seemed to many Americans – the greatest threat to world peace came not from Sadaam but from an enraged and vengeful United States” [K Annan, Interventions: A life in War and Peace, p 3].
Subsequent destabilisation of the neighbouring countries including Gaddafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria reminded the world that there are many areas of conflict where the permanent members of the Security Council are directly involved and need to be seriously looked at and sorted out to ensure that global flare-ups resulting in world wars do not happen.
After Gorbachev’s Presidency the Warsaw Pact comprising of countries of Eastern Europe financed and controlled by Moscow was dismantled, but before long the US-led NATO stepped in to fill the apparent vacuum.
Although the Russian move was seen as a step in the right direction, NATO countries unfortunately failed to use the opportunity to begin to work with the Russians to create a global environment that would be conducive to peace and disarmament. However NATO seized the opportunity to bring the East European republics into its fold.
The latest Russian-Ukraine war and the apparent inability of both sides to agree to a ceasefire to begin a serious dialogue on outstanding issues once again highlights the need for the UN to find a way out of the impasse by appointing a mediator who has adequate understanding and appreciation of the origins of this ongoing conflict.
Russia previously expressed fury at the apparent NATO-backed overthrow of the Moscow-friendly leader of the Ukraine subsequent to which it annexed Crimea and supported the separatists in their attempt to control its Donetsk and Donbas regions.
Presently, Russia is insisting on assurance that NATO will not seek to expand to Ukraine and that Ukraine will not be seeking the membership of NATO. The Russian Federation is currently showing symptoms of paranoia and insecurity as if it is being pushed to the wall and being deprived of its sphere of influence, which it mistakenly believes is its entitlement and has apparently adopted a strategy of shoot first and talk later.
The fact that the UN General Assembly is not adequately represented in the UN Security Council and that the latter is not accountable to the former may go some way to explaining why the UN in its current format finds itself helpless while death and destruction is taking place. It is the sacred duty of the members of the General Council to rise above divisions to bring about a transformed institution that is transparent. democratic and accountable and thereby more effective in its pursuit of disarmament and real peace for mankind.
Dr Cyriac Maprayil is a writer and historian whose work focuses on international political relations and South Asian affairs. He is the author of a number of books, including Nehru and The Commonwealth. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a regular contributor to the online newspaper Indians Abroad.
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