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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les non-alignés à la recherche d’un second souffle

by Hassane Zerrouky

Non-Aligned Nations Seek New Lease of Life

Translated Friday 22 September 2006, by B. G.

Cuba. The 14th Heads-of-State summit of the non-aligned movement kicked off on Monday amidst international tensions.

In a time of major international crisis the 14th summit of the non-aligned movement began on Monday in Havana. Taking part are the Heads of State of the 118 member nations. Fidel Castro’s presidency over the summit is in question as he is convalescing following recent surgery.

Work at the summit will be dominated by the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear crisis. But plenty of attention will be given to economic questions: multilateral negotiation; South-South cooperation; poverty and debt, in the final 86-page document to be adopted at the conclusion of talks. The aim of this 14th summit is to inject new life into the NAM; to re-brand the movement in order to influence the current international reality, where the USA and its allies wish to dominate exclusively, and the United Nations appears paralysed. This is necessary since following the disappearance of the USSR and the end of East-West rivalry, the non-aligned movement no longer had a place and seemed destined to disappear.

Since the last summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, the political makeup of the non-aligned movement has changed. Several countries have veered to the left, particularly in South America, notably Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. In the Middle East, tensions remain very high, due to the American intervention in Iraq, and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank by Israel, and its war of aggression against Lebanon. Central Asia is not stable and the situation in Africa remains worrying.

The gulf between the rich North and the poor South has widened as never before. What’s more, among the non-aligned member countries there are a few genuine economic heavyweights like Brazil and India, even South Africa and Malaysia, whereas others are in a situation of extreme poverty. Some countries are endowed with democratic regimes while others possess authoritarian, corrupt or dictatorial governments. Finally, although many are more or less allies of Washington, the fact remains that they all face the same problems of development and poverty.

Under these conditions one of the summit’s jobs will be to reconcile such contradictory interests and head towards a basic consensus on the big issues of the moment. One such case is the Iran nuclear issue which should get support from the non-aligned nations. As for the Near East, this 14th summit should reaffirm its support for the Palestinians’ right to a state with East Jerusalem as its capital. On Lebanon, a firm condemnation of Israel is expected. Conversely, on Iraq, the draft resolution currently under examination expresses the non-aligned nations’ support for the Iraqi government without breathing a word about the US role. Another resolution being looked at is about reform of the UN, notably enlarging the Security Council to include Third-World members, for example Brazil, which is considering applying for membership.

Hassane Zerrouky

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