Categories World History

Emergence of Third World and Non-alignment: Part I

Emergence of Third World and Non-alignment: Part I

 Third World
  • The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO, or the Communist Bloc.
  • First use of the term Third World:
    • French demographer and historian Alfred Sauvy, in 1952, coined the term Third World, referring to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War.
    • His usage was a reference to the Third Estate, the commoners of France who, before and during the French Revolution, opposed the clergy and nobles, who composed the First Estate and Second Estate, respectively.
    • Sauvy wrote, “This third world ignored, exploited, despised like the third estate also wants to be something.
  • This terminology provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, cultural and economic divisions.
    • The United States, Western European nations and their allies represented the First World.
      • As on 1983, it constituted 15% of world population and 63% of world GDP.
    • The Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and their allies represented the Second World.
      • As on 1983, it had 33% of world population and 19% of GDP.
    • The Third World was normally seen to include many countries with colonial pasts in Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Asia. It was also sometimes taken as synonymous with countries in the Non-Aligned Movement.
      • As on 1983, it had 52% of world population and 18% of world GDP.
  • Due to the complex history of evolving meanings and contexts, there is no clear or agreed upon definition of the Third World.
    • Some countries in the Communist Bloc, such as Cuba, were often sometimes regarded as “Third World”.
    • Because many Third World countries were extremely poor, and non-industrialized, it became a stereotype to refer to poor countries as “third world countries”, yet the “Third World” term is also often taken to include newly industrialized countries like Brazil.
    • Historically, some European countries were part of the non-aligned movement and a few were and are very prosperous, including Austria, Ireland and Switzerland.
  • Recent use of the term ‘Third World’:
    • Over the last few decades since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the term Third World has been used interchangeably with the least developed countries, Global South and developing countries to describe poorer countries that have struggled to attain steady economic development, a term that often includes “Second World” countries like Laos and Cuba.
    • In the so-called dependency theory, the Third World has also been connected to the world economic division as “periphery” countries in the world system that is dominated by the “core” countries.
  • Third Worldism:
    • Third Worldism is a political movement that argues for the unity of third-world nations against first-world influence and the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs.
    • Groups most notable for expressing and exercising this idea are the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the G77 which provide a base for relations and diplomacy between not just the third-world countries, but between the third-world and the first and second worlds.
  • Diverse nature of Third World:
    • Most Third World countries were former colonies. Having gained independence many of these countries, especially smaller ones, were faced with the challenges of nation and institution-building on their own for the first time.
    • Due to this common background, many of these nations were “developing” in economic terms for most of the 20th century, and many still are.
    • The large diversity of countries considered part of the Third World—from Indonesia to Afghanistan—ranged widely from economically primitive to economically advanced and from politically non-aligned to Soviet or Western leaning.
    • The aggregate term “Third World” was challenged as misleading even during the Cold War period because it had no consistent or collective identity among the countries it supposedly encompassed.
  • Foreign aid and development:
    • During the Cold War, unaligned countries of the Third World were seen as potential allies by both the First and Second World.
      • Therefore, the United States and the Soviet Union went to great lengths to establish connections in these countries by offering economic and military support to gain strategically located alliances.
      • Smaller nations would be expected to align in the face of the instability of the international environment and would inevitably lose their voice and independence of judgment in the process.
    • By the end of the 1960s, the idea of the Third World came to represent countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that were considered underdeveloped by the West based on a variety of characteristics (low economic development, low life expectancy, high rates of poverty and disease, etc.). These countries became the targets for aid and support from governments, NGOs and individuals from wealthier nations.
    • Development would take place in 5 stages:
        • Traditional Society;
        • Pre-conditions for Take-off;
        • Take-off;
        • Drive to Maturity;
        • Age of High Mass Consumption).
      • Take-off was the critical stage that the Third World was missing or struggling with.
      • Thus, foreign aid was needed to help kick start industrialization and economic growth in these countries.
    • However, despite decades of receiving aid, many Third World countries’ economies are still dependent on developed countries and are deep in debt.
    • There is now a growing debate about why Third World countries remain impoverished and underdeveloped after all this time. Many argue that current methods of aid are not working and are calling for reducing foreign aid (and therefore dependency) and utilizing different economic theories than the traditional mainstream theories from the West.
    • Some argue the problem of development amongst many third world states through socio-economic perspectives.
  • Features of the Third World:
    • A distinct political grouping, largely non-aligned.
    • The economic status, accordingly known as Developing world or under-developed world.
    • On the basis of geographical location, known as South because its location mainly in Southern Hemisphere.
    • During Cold War period, also known as Tiers-Monde (French word) w.r.t cold war politics.
    • Emerged as state before becoming a nation.
    • In general highly centralised state system. A state machinery imposed from top i.e. it has not developed out of internal social dynamics.
    • There is absence of well formed dominant class and there is a loose alliance of various classes. And this loose alliance dominate.
    • According to liberal perspective, the western educated elites controlled the state system. They used the state as a tool to transform traditional agrarian society into a modern industrial society.
    • Artificiality of state. e.g. African states, (Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh). It is due to colonial legacy.
    • Adjunct of the core. Core is the metropoles and adjunct is the periphery. Even after becoming free, influences continued what is known as New Colonialism.
    • Highly heterogeneous like some rich like Arabs and some very poor like Bangladesh. In some monarchy some democracy, some military regime, some tribal society, in some capitalist society, some secular while some having state religion.
    • Geographical extent also varies, besides there is cultural heterogeneity.
    • Large population growth

Non-Aligned Movement

  • The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a group of states which are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • The organization was founded in Belgrade in 1961, and was largely conceived by
      • India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru;
      • Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno;
      • Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser;
      • Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah; and
      • Yugoslavia’s president, Josip Broz Tito.
    • Their actions were known as ‘The Initiative of Five’.
  • All these leaders were prominent advocates of a middle course for states in the Developing World between the Western and Eastern blocs in the Cold War.
  • While many of the Non-Aligned Movement’s members were actually quite closely aligned with one or another of the super powers, the movement still maintained cohesion throughout the Cold War.
  • Currently, the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, with 125 members, represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’s members and contain 55% of the world population. Membership is particularly concentrated in countries considered to be part of the Third World.
  • Origins:
    • The term “non-alignment” itself was coined by V.K. Krishna Menon in 1953 remarks at the United Nations.
    • Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:
      • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
      • Mutual non-aggression
      • Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
      • Equality and mutual benefit
      • Peaceful co-existence
    • Several conferences held which strengthened the unity of Third World countries:
      • Asian Relations Conference, New Delhi, March-April 1947 (hosted by Nehru)
      • Asian Conference, New Delhi 1949
      • Bandung Conference/ Afro-Asian Conference (1955):
        • A significant milestone in the development of the Non-Aligned Movement was the 1955 Bandung Conference, a conference of Asian and African states hosted by Indonesian president Sukarno.
        • It brought together Sukarno, Nasser, Nehru, Tito, Nkrumah with the likes of , U Nu, Ho Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai, and Norodom Sihanouk, as well as U Thant.
        • The conference adopted a “declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation“, which included Nehru’s five principles, and a collective pledge to remain neutral in the Cold War.
  • Belgrade conference, 1961:
    • An initiative of Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito led to the first Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, which was held in September 1961 in Belgrade.
    • The Non-Aligned movement was never established as a formal organization, but became the name to refer to the participants of the Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries held in Belgrade.
    • In first summit, they formulated following principles:
      • To pursue independent policy
      • Anti-colonialism
      • No alliance with blocs
      • No alliance with super-powers
      • Not to provide military base to super powers
  • Lusaka Conference (third conference) in September 1970:
    • The member nations added as aims of the movement the peaceful resolution of disputes and the abstention from the big power military alliances and pacts and opposition to stationing of military bases in foreign countries.
  • The term Non Aligned Movement appears explicitly first in the fifth conference held in Colombo in 1976, where participating countries are denoted as members of the movement.
  • Havana Declaration of 1979:
    • In a speech given during the Havana Declaration of 1979, Fidel Castro said the purpose of the organization is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism,colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”.
  • Requirements for membership of the Non-Aligned Movement:
    • It coincide with the key beliefs of the United Nations. The current requirements are that the candidate country has displayed practices in accordance with the ten “Bandung principles” of 1955:
    • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
    • Recognition of the movements for national independence.
    • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
    • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
    • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
    • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
    • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
    • Respect for justice and international obligations.

Nature/character of NAM

  • Based on principle of Non-alignment:
    • Non-alignment symbolised independent vision, independent posture,, independent stand.
    • It implied pursuance of independent foreign policy, rejection of every form of dominance
  • Pragmatic move on the part of newly independent nations that was to protect and promote their hard won freedom and their interest such as to preserve the independence, economic development etc.
  • NAM was not a non-commitment/ neutrality/isolation/ non-involvement
    • It was a political concept whereas neutralism is legal concept written in the constitution of the country. For e.g. Austria and Switzerland followed neutralism, not participate in any war. (Now Turkmenistan- Permanent neutrality)
    • Not a provision written in constitution.
    • Neutralism is a permanent feature of state-policy, Non-alignment is not.
    • NAM instead of isolation or non-commitment, stood for active and assertive role.
    • It presented a new alternative in international relation i.e. alternative of international cooperation and peace.
  • NAM didn’t represent Third Bloc:
    • A bloc need a leader country around which the entire system revolves. (e.g. Capitalist bloc- USA; Communist Bloc- USSR)
    • The combined military strength of all Third World countries was not equal to strength necessary to form a Bloc while Bloc system requires minimum military strength.
    • NAM members don’t follow a completely uniform military policy which is also requirement of a Bloc system.
  • NAM was not a opportunism as some branded it so.
    • Its objective was not to gain advantage by playing one power against other or gaining benefits from both.
  • Secretaries General of the NAM had included such diverse figures as Suharto, an authoritarian anti-communist, and Nelson Mandela, a democratic socialist.
  • During the 1970s and early 1980s, the NAM also sponsored campaigns for restructuring commercial relations between developed and developing nations, namely the New International Economic Order (NIEO), and its cultural offspring, the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO).
    • In 1960s, NAM presented the idea of NIEO (New International Economic Order)
      • This was an ide of an economic order in which the interest of Third World stand promoted and protected.
      • The focus was the economic assitance, promotion of exports and a share in international decision making (in economic field)
      • UNGA passed a resolution on NIEO in 1974 and also called for North-South Dialogue. (North- Developed; South- Underdeveloped)
      • When North-South Dialogue did not produce desirable results, the idea of South-South Cooperation emerged and grew.
    • NAM stood for cultural freedom in the face of dominance of western communication system.
      • Western communication system subverted the political sovereignty of Third World nations by encroaching upon the domains of the Third World nations.
      • Western communication system subverted the traditional values of the Third World nations.
      • Western communication system presented distorted facts about the Third World nation.
      • NAM called for New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) and in the pursuance of this formed a Non-aligned news pool in 1976.
  • Peace and Disarmament:
    • Consisting of many governments with vastly different ideologies, the Non-Aligned Movement is unified by its commitment to world peace and security.
    • At the seventh summit held in New Delhi in March 1983, the movement described itself as “history’s biggest peace movement”.
    • The movement places equal emphasis on disarmament. NAM’s commitment to peace pre-dates its formal institutionalisation in 1961.
    • The Brioni meeting between heads of governments of India, Egypt and Yugoslavia in 1956 recognized that there exists a vital link between struggle for peace and endeavours for disarmament.

Role of NAM and Third World during Cold War

  • A new alternative in international relation- peace and cooperation
  • Relaxation of Cold War tension- role in Detente
  • Voice against imperialism, colonialism, racism, apartheid, all form of dominance
  • Role in softening conflict situation like Arab-Israel conflict, Vietnam War
  • Strengthening of UN because NAM countries constituted majority
  • Role in creation of Third World groupings such as G-77 in 1964, G-24 in 1971, G-15 in 1989
  • Promotion of South-South cooperation
  • Presentation of the idea of NIEO
  • Projecting the national interest of Third World countries
  • Role in formation of UNCTAD
  • Role in disarmament issues such as PTBT (Partial Test Ban Treaty), 1963, NPT, 1970
  • Role in protection of environment, human rights etc.
  • Activities and success:
    • The successes the NAM has had with multilateral agreements tend to be ignored by the larger, western and developed nation dominated UN.
    • African concerns about apartheid were linked with Arab-Asian concerns about Palestine and multilateral cooperation in these areas has enjoyed moderate success.
    • The Non-Aligned Movement has played a major role in various ideological conflicts throughout its existence, including extreme opposition to apartheid governments and support of guerrilla movements in various locations, including Rhodesia and South Africa.
    • The organization has criticized certain aspects of US foreign policy as attempts to run roughshod over the sovereignty of smaller nations
    • Since 1961, the organization has supported the discussion of the case of Puerto Rico’s self-determination before the United Nations.
    • Since 1973, the group has supported the discussion of the case of Western Sahara’s self-determination before the United Nations.
    • The movement is publicly committed to the tenets of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, but it believes that the international community has not created conditions conducive to development and has infringed upon the right to sovereign development by each member state.
    • Issues such as globalization, the debt burden, unfair trade practices, the decline in foreign aid, donor conditionality, and the lack of democracy in international financial decision-making are cited as factors inhibiting development.
    • Reforms of the UN:
      • The movement has criticised the current UN structures and power dynamics, stating that the organisation has been utilised by powerful states in ways that violate the movement’s principles.
      • It has made a number of recommendations that it says would strengthen the representation and power of “non-aligned” states and improve the transparency and democracy of UN decision-making.
      • The UN Security Council is the element it considers the most distorted, undemocratic, and in need of reshaping.
    • South-South cooperation:
      • The movement has collaborated with other organisations of the developing world – primarily the Group of 77 – forming a number of joint committees and releasing statements and documents representing the shared interests of both groups.
    • Cultural diversity and human rights:
      • The movement accepts the universality of human rights and social justice, but fiercely resists cultural homogenisation.
      • In line with its views on sovereignty, the organisation appeals for the protection of cultural diversity, and the tolerance of the religious, socio-cultural, and historical particularities that define human rights in a specific region.
    • Peace and Disarmament:
      • Consisting of many governments with vastly different ideologies, the Non-Aligned Movement is unified by its commitment to world peace and security.
      • At the seventh summit held in New Delhi in March 1983, the movement described itself as “history’s biggest peace movement”.
      • The movement places equal emphasis on disarmament. NAM’s commitment to peace pre-dates its formal institutionalisation in 1961.
      • The Brioni meeting between heads of governments of India, Egypt and Yugoslavia in 1956 recognized that there exists a vital link between struggle for peace and endeavours for disarmament.
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