Case Study

The decline of the Non-Aligned Movement

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was founded in 1955, the mouthpiece of the newly emerging ‘Third World’ bloc of countries. The ‘Third World’ was essentially the independent countries in the Global South that were former colonies of European states. The NAM was founded at the height of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union, the institutionalised expression of ideological conflict between liberal democracy and communism.

After the Cold War ended in the late 1980s, the NAM declined into international irrelevance, mainly because the ideological polarisation of the Cold War years, which had sustained the NAM’s neutral position in international relations, ended. This development was a metaphor for the crumbling of the long-held notion that the developing countries shared common aims which they could best pursue by working collectively.

To an extent the NAM’s decline and ideological fragmentation reflected the impact of globalisation on the mass of countries in the Global South, which included increased incorporation into the global capitalist economy and the diminishing of their previous ideological solidarity based on their declared neutrality between the superpowers.

The post-Cold War history of the NAM is an example of how, among countries in the Global South, globalisation has stimulated the decline of both political and economic solidarity. These developments amount to a serious decline in the collective orientation of the developing world and reflect how its economic and political trajectories are closely linked to global developments.