TWN Info Service on WTO Issues (Mar03/1)


Dear friends and colleagues

The Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 24-25

February.  It was chaired by the Malaysian Prime Minister and attended by the heads of state or government of many countries (including India, akistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Jamaica) and senior officials of other countries.

Below is a report of the closing of the conference.  We will also send you  two more reports of the Summit.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
Third World Network


By Martin Khor, Third World Network

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25 Feb 2003

The Non Aligned Movement Summit ended late tonight with the call for a new political, economic and human global order that is equitable, just and democratic.

The main message emerging from the Summit was the urgent need to reaffirm the central importance of multilateralism in face of the threat of  rising unilateral actions in international affairs exemplified by the probability of a US-UK led war against Iraq.

The Summit's closing plenary adopted several documents:  the "Final Document" of the 13th NAM Summit;  the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on continuing the revitalization of the NAM; and separate statements on Iraq and Palestine.  It also agreed to hold the next Summit in Cuba in 2006.

In the closing speech, the new NAM chairman, Malaysian Prime Minister  Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the Summit had been extremely useful for  exchange of views, stock taking and formulating strategies for the future of the movement.

He said the unipolar world today is different from the multipolar world  when our forefathers started the NAM.  That NAM, which embodies our hopes  and aspirations for economic prosperity in a peaceful, secure and just  world, has become even more relevant today to protect and promote the interests of the South.

"It is clear the well being of the world will be better served by a  strong multilateral system revolving around a UN that is more representative  and democratic, than a unilateral system based on the dominance of one  power, however benign that power may be," he said.  "We are resolved to give  strong and sustained support to the UN for its future is linked with that of  the NAM and multilateralism."

Mahathir summarized three new challenges facing NAM:  international terrorism and our part in the international effort to combat  international terrorism; globalization and efforts

towards integration of developing countries into the new political, economic and human global order that is equitable, just and democratic;  and information and communications technology that is changing the world  and widening the North-South digital divide.

In the face of these challenges, it is in our interest to strengthen  our unity and cohesion and speak with one voice on issues of vital  importance. "While we do not need to be confrontational in our approach, there is  also no need to be subservient or defensive in our relations with the  developed countries."

Mahathir added the challenges require urgent responses, pragmatic  strategies and coordinated actions.  He referred to the just adopted Kuala Lumpur Declaration as a blueprint for collective action, with guiding  principles and practical action plans to chart NAM's future course.  With revitalization, NAM would be more pro-active and responsive to member states' concerns.  As the new Chair, Malaysia will work closely with  other members to enhance NAM's profile and clout in global affairs.

The reference in Mahathir's speech to globalization and the need for a "new political, economic and human global order"  seemed to summarise a key  part on globalization in the NAM Summit's Final Document.  Para 224 states: "Noting that integration into the global economy in order to benefit  from multilateral rules without destroying national comparative advantage is  a critical challenge for developing countries, and recognizing that  economic reforms are only a means to an end and that in the pursuit of development,

the human goals of security, freedom, justice and the opportunity for a fulfilling and empowering life for all humanity must not be neglected,  the Heads of State or government emphasized the need for a New Global Human Order aimed at reversing the growing disparity between rich and poor,  both among and within countries, through inter alia, the eradication of  poverty and the promotion of sustainable development."

The NAM Summit's call for a New Global Human Order based on narrowing disparities is in direct contrast to the American-articulated paradigm  of a New World Order first advanced by US President George Bush in the early 1990s and now further extended by President George W. Bush in  increasingly unilateralist superpower policies including the justification for  unilateral pre-emptive military strikes and withdrawal from multilateral

Agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.

The "new global human order" also harks back to the developing  countries' movement for a "new international economic order" in the 1970s and  1980s, which petered out in face of the backlash from developed countries, the  debt crisis and commodity price declines, the Bretton Woods institutions' structural adjustment policy conditionalities, the Uruguay Round  agreements and the current developments in the WTO.

Whether the NAM will be able to revive the movement for a equitable international order, and what practical plans and programmes it can  devise, are some key issues.  The task becomes even more onerous if the New  Global Human Order seeks to cover both political and economic arenas.

At the closing session, Cuban President, Fidel Castro, said the new NAM Chairman is admired worldwide for Malaysia's development success and especially for his challenge to the IMF's orthodox economic policies  during the financial crisis.  The struggle for development requires solidarity  and cooperation among NAM countries.  With  Cuba being given the honour to  hold the next Summit, it would try to ensure that NAM will be effective  again, as NAM is more necessary than ever.

For the Africa group, Namibia's President Sam Nujomo said NAM must coordinate its members' positions in the international arena especially  in trade negotiations relating to the WTO's Doha programme.  The Group  urged NAM members, especially those in the UN Security Council, to follow up  on NAM decisions relating to the political situation.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad (speaking for  Asian group) and Guyana's Foreign Minister Samuel Insanally (speaking for Carribean and Latin America Group) also pledged support for  implementing the Summit decisions.

At a media conference following the closing session, Dr Mahathir said  that NAM's immediate priorities were solving the Palestinian problem and the threat of war to Iraq.

Asked whether it was true that NAM was a talkshop till now, the Prime Minister said the test of this could be if NAM was abolished.  "Without  NAM, we will be chewed up and swallowed one by one."

To a question whether it was too idealistic to think the mighty nations would be convinced on his call to abolish wars and nuclear weapons,  Mahathir agreed his call looked idealistic as the big powers believe they should  have the privilege of maintaining their weapons.  "But if we keep quiet they won't feel guilty or uncomfortable when they keep or even use these weapons. Even conventional weapons are being developed to become weapons of mass destruction."

On the practical measures for NAM in the next three years, Mahathir  said NAM countries should have a common stand in negotiations and conferences, especially relating to globalization and WTO meetings.  "When we don't  speak with one voice the other side will push through their ideas."

Mahathir was asked that since he opposed a unilateral attack on Iraq,  did it mean he supported an attack that was UN sanctioned?  He replied:  "We  are against war whether it's multilateral or unilateral.  We are committed  to the UN but we expect that no war is involved.  We are not in favour of slaughtering people."