BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 6. The transformation of the Non-Aligned Movement is a very interesting case for analysis. For a significant period, the organization was presumed to lose its relevance due to the changes in the geopolitical landscape from the 90s and beyond. The last few years, however, marked the resurgence of NAM. This became particularly obvious during the last few years, which served as a stern test for the international community. Wars, health crises, intolerance, and erosion of international law all seem to be some of the defining negative features of the current decade. The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev highlighted these issues in great detail during his opening speech.
The speech delivered by President Aliyev was very thought-provoking as it provided insight into some of the pressing matters, which are the key topics of global political discourse. Particularly interesting remarks were made on three topics, neo-colonialism, the inadequate structure of the United Nations Security Council, and the proposal to form a Like-Minded Group of Mine-Affected Countries. We shall explore these topics in greater detail.
In his speech, President Ilham Aliyev discussed the threat of neo-colonialism, particularly in connection to the policies pursued by France in the past, as well as presently.
“One of the countries that still is pursuing the neo-colonialism is France. French administered territories outside Europe are nasty remains of the French colonial empire. France must respect the sovereignty of the Comoros over the island of Mayotte as well as the rights of the New Caledonian people and other peoples in French overseas communities and territories. I welcome the distinguished representatives from French overseas communities and territories who will hold their side-event in the margins of Baku Ministerial to make their just cause and aspirations for freedom to be heard by the international community.”, President Ilham Aliyev said.
Which is true. Unfortunately, the colonial past of these territories puts them in an extremely precarious situation. The overseas territories, due to the rigid policies of France had extremely limited development opportunities. Furthermore, there are instances of systemic prejudice in France against migrants from these territories, which endangers the development of youth from these areas. Last, but not least, is the illogical situation that people in these territories are forced to deal with. Imagine that centralized exams in overseas areas must start at the same time as in France. This means that exams, which start at noon in the mainland may start late in the evening or even at night in other French territories. Paris demonstrates a lack of understanding even in such basic issues, unfortunately. Again, common people in overseas territories are the real victims of centralization.
UNSC – a relic of past
It is also difficult to argue against the fact that the United Nations Security Council is an outdated mechanism, which resembles an exclusive club of countries rather than a responsible community of states that is tasked with preventing conflicts and wars.
The deeply flawed security system of the UN Security Council is inadequate for dealing with current issues and crises. It has not undergone any transformation since its inception after the end of World War II. In the meantime, geopolitical realities and political climate have changed. The lack of representation in the UN security council makes it a relic of the past, that seeks to promote individual interests of its permanent members. As of today, not a single Muslim country is featured in the UNSC, despite a significant percentage of the global population practicing Islam. There are no developing states in the Council, only well-established political entities with significant resources, and protected by their nuclear arsenals. This situation makes the permanent members dubious guardians of peace, as these countries possess nuclear deterrence against any attack. Consequently, the states that have a somewhat lower probability of engaging in fights for their survival are tasked with the protection of the global world order.
As a way out of this challenging situation, President Ilham Aliyev reiterated his support for the mechanism proposed earlier:
“As I have highlighted before, one permanent seat at the UN Security Council should be given to the Non-Aligned Movement. Countries holding the position of chair of the NAM, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and African Union should have their seats at the UN Security Council on a rotating basis with a veto right”, the Head of State noted.
Such a proposal gives a concrete solution to the existing issues, which plague the Security Council. Transforming a bureaucratic mechanism is no easy feat, but the fact that there are discussions centered on the issue is a positive development.
The Mine-Affected Countries initiative
The last point of the speech that we would like to touch upon is the initiative of President Aliyev to form a Like-Minded Group of Mine-Affected Countries. And, perhaps, Azerbaijan is the best country to put forward such an initiative because of the vast mine contamination that the country still has to deal with. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that President Ilham Aliyev proposed to create such an initiative:
“Landmines slow down the reconstruction process and the return of former internally displaced persons to the liberated territories. With this in mind, Azerbaijan has set a particular national Sustainable Development Goal on humanitarian demining. Moreover, Azerbaijan supports humanitarian demining efforts globally and put forward a proposal of launching the 18th SDG on demining.
I am confident that NAM Member States will support my proposal to form a Like-Minded Group of Mine-Affected Countries to make our voice heard globally”, President Ilham Aliyev said.
This is a very important proposal, as it will be considerably easier to make the necessary changes on the global level to promote the interests of countries, which face the issue of mine contamination. The unfortunate reality is that such countries have a very limited degree of protection even though international law fully supports these states.
Additionally, the time needed to clear the mines and return life to normal is significant. Countries with mine contamination, consequently, lose economic opportunities and are unable to fulfill their potential, which further exacerbates their situation.
Despite what some people may have felt in the past, the Non-Aligned Movement is a very valuable organization with immense potential. It provides a platform for the promotion of mutually beneficial ideas and proposals, as we have discussed earlier in the text. It is particularly important in modern times when political and economic relations demonstrate a high degree of volatility. Being a part of this organization, which remains the largest after the United Nations, is an asset for any country.
And it is particularly noteworthy that Azerbaijan contributed immensely to the transformation of the organization during the country’s chairmanship. It would be very interesting to see how the organization will develop in the future, however, it is obvious that, with Baku at the helm, the Movement became a crucial entity in the promotion of political liberalism in the world.