The Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM is an international organization of over 100 states which consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. They represent 55 per cent of the planet's people and nearly two-thirds of the UN's membership. Countries that have hosted the NAM's conferrences include Yugoslavia, Egypt, Zambia, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Colombia, South Africa and Malaysia.
It was formed in 1961 on the initiative of Josip Broz Tito, then-president of Yugoslavia, and brought together the states of the world that did not wish to align themselves with either of the Cold War superpowers. Important members included India, Egypt, and, for a time, the People's Republic of China. Brazil has never been a formal member of the movement. While the organization was intended to be as close an alliance as NATO or the Warsaw Pact, it never had much cohesion and many of its members were induced to or unable to resist aligning with one or another of the great powers. For example, Cuba was closely aligned with the former Soviet Union during the Cold War era.
The first meeting of the NAM occurred in Belgrade in September of 1961 and it saw twenty-five members, eleven each from Asia and Africa along with Yugoslavia, Cuba and Cyprus. The group dedicated itself to opposing colonialism, imperialism, and neo-colonialism.
The next meeting was held in Cairo in 1964. It was attended by forty-six nations with most of the new members being newly independent African states. Much of the meeting was engaged in discussions about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Indo-Pakistani Wars.
The 1969 meeting in Lusaka was attended by fifty-four nations and was one of the most important with the movement forming a permanent organization to foster economic and political ties. Kenneth Kaunda played a crucial role in these events.
The 1973 meeting in Algiers saw the movement deal with new economic realities. The 1973 world oil shock had made some of its members vastly richer than the others. The end of the attachment of the U.S. currency to gold, and its subsequent devaluation, also removed one of the group's largest complaints.
Recently Malaysia hosted the 13th Non-Aligned Movement from 20-25 February 2003. However, the Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to find relevance since the end of the Cold War.
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