The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an intergovernmental organization of states currently consisting 120 members and 18 observer countries. The term “non-alignment” itself was coined by Indian Prime Minister Shri Nehru, during his speech in 1954 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In this speech. Hehru described five pillars (Panchasee) which subsequently served as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement.
These guiding principles are:
Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Mutual non-aggression, Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs, Equality end mutual benefit, Peaceful co-existence.
The first official Non-Aligned Movement summit was held on 1st September 1961 in Belgrade, the capital city of former Yugoslav Republic, six years after the Asian African prime ministers meeting held in Bandung Indonesia, which declared their desire not to be involved in the “Cold War” and adopt a “declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation”.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was represented at this historic inaugural NAM summit by Hon. Prime Minister, the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who made history as the world’s first woman Prime Minister, Sri Lanka was thereby, among the 25participants that attended the first NAM summit, and Sri Lanka’s involvement in NAM culminated in hosting the 5th NAM summit in 1976, in Colombo – the first NAM summit to be held in the Asian Region, and taking over the Chairmanship of NAM for a three year period. Since the first summit, NAM members met at Summit level 16 times and the last meeting was held in Sharm-all-sheik, Egypt, where H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksha represented Sri Lanka.
NAM represents countries with diverse socio-political views and systems. Yet the movement is bound by the desire for peaceful cooperating for mutual benefit. As most members of NAM are members of the United Nations, the movement provides leadership within the UN for its members on a number of issues, ranging from disarmament, decolonization, to human rights and economic development. The movement does not have a permanent secretariat and therefore the Chair Country, thorough its Permanent mission accredited to UN in New York coordinates activities of NAM have led its members over the last fifty years, and these core values remain relevant guiding principles in conducting international relations among Nations.