The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is crucial to, and yet little-understood in, the field of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. This Adelphi provides valuable insight into its structures and politics, and stresses the potential for greater engagement between NAM members and the West.

The Non-Aligned Movement is the largest grouping of states engaged on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues, comprising more than two-thirds of the membership of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, the movement is often misunderstood by Western scholars and policymakers, who typically fail to appreciate the diversity of views among its 120 members and 17 observer states.

This Adelphi explores the structures and politics within NAM, and stresses the potential for greater engagement between NAM members and the West in mitigating many of the most pressing nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and terrorism challenges. Its thorough examination of how NAM business is conducted, along with an analysis of how prominent members or groups of members have sought to dominate it for their own purposes, offers invaluable insight ahead of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and as NAM approaches a possible watershed moment in the movement’s history: the assumption by Iran of the chairmanship in mid-2012.

‘A unique and an exceptional source of accurate information and in-depth analysis of NAM’s 50-year struggle for a world free of nuclear weapons.’
Ambassador Mohamed I. Shaker, Chairman of the Board of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and President of the 1985 NPT Review Conference.

`Based on scholarly research and enriched by direct personal experience in NPT conferences, it reveals a depth of understanding rare in Western research. It should receive the careful attention of policymakers and commentators on the influential coalition of nations that comprise NAM.’
Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, President of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and former UN Undersecretary-General for Disarmament.

‘An indispensable guide to the labyrinthine politics of the NAM as it struggles to reconcile traditional collective positions with ever more diverse national interests. It makes a compelling plea for a better informed and more sophisticated understanding of what makes the movement tick, and why ... NAM will continue to matter in multilateral nuclear forums.’
Gareth Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University and former Australian Foreign Minister.

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  • Introduction

    The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the world's largest political grouping of states engaged on issues related to international security. It consists of 120 full members and 17 observer states – more than two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations. By virtue of its size alone, the movement has the potential to be a very constructive or obstructive force in dealing with many of the most pressing nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation...
  • Chapter One: NAM origins, structure, policymaking and politics

    The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formally founded in September 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, during a conference of 25 heads of state or government from developing countries. The origins of NAM, however, can be traced back to the late 1940s, and can be viewed as a reaction by many developing nations to the growth of Cold War blocs and ideological rivalries following the end of the Second World War. A number...
  • Chapter Two: NAM, nuclear non-proliferation and the 2010 NPT Review Conference

    The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is usually depicted as having three pillars: nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful use. Nuclear disarmament has always been more central to core NAM principles than non-proliferation. Nevertheless, a number of the movement's members and observers have played important roles in the development of the international non-proliferation regime, including its cornerstone, the NPT. Non-aligned states significantly influenced not only the language of the...
  • Chapter Three: Peaceful uses and beyond: NAM in Vienna

    Peaceful uses of nuclear energy represent the third pillar of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the last part of the bargain designed to ensure that states that forgo military nuclear programmes in accordance with Articles I and II of the treaty gain unfettered access to the atom's peaceful benefits. Article IV of the NPT recognises the inalienable right of states parties to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and...
  • Chapter Four: Looking to the future

    NAM celebrated its 50th anniversary in September 2011. Not surprisingly, the world – and NAM – looks very different today than it did when the movement first convened in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1961. The host country for the first summit no longer exists, the East–West bloc structure that gave rise to the establishment of NAM has long since disappeared, and the movement's membership has surged from 25 to 120 –...
  • Conclusion

    It is crucially important to engage NAM more constructively in tackling a variety of pressing nuclear disarmament, proliferation, peaceful-use and terrorism challenges. Productive collaboration with NAM on each of these fronts requires a more sophisticated understanding of NAM, and its shared core values and priorities, mode of decision-making, diversity and latent (and sometimes pronounced) tension among members and observers. This refers mainly to the tension between strict adherence to principled...

MsGaukhar Mukhatzhanova is a research associate at the CNS.

DrWilliam Potter is Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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