The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum that is not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. Drawing on the principles agreed at the Bandung Conference in 1955, the NAM was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia through the initiative of President of Yugoslavia, President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, President of Indonesia Sukarno, and President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah.
The organization consists of 120-member states, including the non-UN member state of Palestine, as well as 17 other observer countries and 10 observer organizations. Approximately, two-thirds of the United Nations' members are represented at the Non-Aligned Movement, and they comprise 55% of the world's population. NAM operates on the ten (10) Bandung principles, including respect for the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of all states; rejection of the possibility of an unconstitutional change of government, as well as external attempts to change the regime of government; the preservation of the inalienable right for each state is free, without interference from outside, to determine its political, social, economic and cultural system; refrain from aggression and direct or indirect use of force; non-application of any unilateral economic, political or military measures.
The Eastern Africa Experts Forum on the role of the Non-Aligned Movement is an event associated with the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) scheduled to take place in Kampala in January 2024. The Forum is convened by the Institute for International Affairs and Public Policy (IPPIA)-USIU Africa, Social Innovation Africa (SIA), the University of Nairobi, and Entrepreneurial Forum for Peace and Development (EFPD) in Ethiopia with support endorsement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, the host of the 19th NAM Summit and the Intergovernmental organization on Development (IGAD).
From a geopolitical perspective, China, the world’s second-leading economy, has a population of about 1.4 billion. The USA, which remains the world’s leading economy, has a population of 334 million. The 27 members of the European Union have a total population of about 447 million (excluding 68 million in the UK). Russia’s population stands at 146 million; for Brazil, it is 214 million; and that of India stands at about 1.35 billion. These countries and major blocs are jostling to play a leading role in reconfiguring the emerging multipolar world.
While in Africa, the most advanced economy remains that of South Africa, with a population of 60 million people; whilst the population of the largest economy, Nigeria, is estimated to be 212 million. The next economy in size, Egypt has a population of 104 million; similarly, the population of Ethiopia stands at 118 million, and that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is about 93 million. Currently, the population for all of the continent of Africa stands at close to 1.4 billion. Whilst population size does provide the possibility to take advantage of economies of scale, this might be possible only if it is not at variance with development and economic performance. As such, the demographic profile and corresponding economic indicators need further disaggregation to fully appreciate the implication for Africa and its role in global politics. For instance, what are the consequences for the continent of the youth bulge if no deliberate policy interventions are made to take advantage of the opportunities it presents?
What is apparent is that African countries occupy the lowest ranks for most socio-economic and development indicators. Generally, African countries individually and collectively have underperformed in economic and developmental terms, and concerning democratic governance, whatever parameters one chooses to use. The implication in geostrategic terms is that Africa is yet to matter in the international political economy except as a source of cheap natural resources and a market for overpriced products that most often it cannot afford. Africa suffers from the paradox of substantial natural resource endowments; enormous agricultural potential and a dynamically youthful population yet registers poorly on almost all indexes of sustainable development mainly because of the absence of democratic and accountable governance in most states.
Given Africa’s heavy reliance on natural resources for economic performance and its late start on the development path, closer coordination on a broad range of policies that drive economic growth and development becomes imperative if its abysmal performance this far is to be reversed. Improving Africa’s economic and governance performance becomes a mutually reinforcing process for guaranteeing the prosperity and well-being of its citizens. For Africa’s geopolitical and economic prospects to change, integration and the creation of an acceptable form of supranational governance mechanism become imperative. Amongst the precondition for acquiring the capabilities to deliver peace and stability for Africa’s citizens is good governance that creates the possibility for developing capable states.
It is in recognition of the urgency of the situation that the African Union has elaborated an ambitious plan to achieve the Pan-African vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” These ideals and goals are encapsulated in Agenda 2063. The African Union recognizes that to progress on its Agenda 2063; it must first achieve peace, security and stability. It also appreciates that one of the main reasons for the widespread violent conflicts on the continent is the exploitation of poor governance and local grievances by internal and external actors. The absence of robust governance and accountability institutions explains, to a large extent, Africa’s chronic instability and inability to deliver public goods to most of its citizens.
This appreciation informs many of the AU Assembly’s decisions regarding the emerging African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Similarly, the activities of the African Governance Architecture (AGA), while complementary to APSA, are also fundamental to ensuring and guaranteeing the minimum conditions for democratic governance, which is more appropriate for providing the requisite investment climate and security for African citizens.
While the AU puts the governance agenda at the Centre of resolving its numerous socio-economic, political, and peace and security challenges, the continent remains, with large swathes such as the Sahel, West and Central Africa, as well as the Horn, mired in violent conflict and instability.
In view of increased South-South Cooperation, NAM provides a unique platform for collaboration on the political level. This forum will explore the opportunities for engagement with NAM in the Eastern Africa region which is affected by conflicts and instability in a number of countries. The experts drawn from the academia, government circles and civil society will provide an analysis of the distinct opportunities and challenges in the region for enhanced cooperation with the NAM and its member states.
The primary objective of the Eastern African Experts Forum is to gather insights and recommendations from diverse stakeholders in preparation for the 19th NAM Summit in Kampala in January. The forum aims to deliberate on the dynamic role NAM can play in the contemporary polarized international political system and specifically in Eastern Africa.
The workshop will include information sharing through expert presentations and dialogue sessions. It is expected to be interactive and participatory. The forum will bring together 20 experts from academia, government, civil society, and the private sector. Representatives of the governments of the IGAD /EAC region will be invited to attend through their respective diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic of Kenya.
The Keynote address will be made by the Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda and a representative from IGAD Peace and Security Department will present the IGAD/CEWARN 2023 State of Conflict in the Region Report. An Expert intervention shall also be made on the current conflict dynamics in the EAC and a presentation will be delivered of the role of the NAM in supporting regional peace and security initiatives
The organizers will provide local transport and meals at the venue for all participants. Air tickets and any related allowances will be covered under specific arrangements between the organizers and the participants/resource persons.
USIU-Africa, Nairobi, Kenya