Foreign Relations | Speeches

A New Vision for NAM

13th Conference of the Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

February 24, 2003

Your Majesties,
Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Permit me first to express my deep gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed and the Government of Malaysia for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to us. We greatly appreciate the excellent arrangements made for this 13th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

I wish to thank President Thabo Mbeki for his wise and efficient stewardship of our movement, through difficult times.

The Government of Malaysia under the able leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has safeguarded the independence of its foreign policies through the years. It is therefore most appropriate, that we are holding this Summit in Malaysia at this moment, when the world is dangerously poised at the edge of a crisis that could pose a serious threat to international peace and stability and plunge the world into a conflict of unimaginable proportions.

The Non-Aligned Movement was born out of the desire of the developing Nations to safeguard their sovereign independence in the context of the Cold War conflict which prevailed between two power blocs. Our Movement played an important role in acting as a buffer of neutrality, mediating between the two power blocs, preventing conflagrations between them.

This did not mean in any way that we were not committed. To quote Prime Minister Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, “We are very much ‘committed’ – we are committed to the hilt – to peace in a positive form, to friendship amongst all Nations and to the peace and prosperity and happiness of all mankind. We are committed quite as much as anyone else, perhaps even more so.”

The NAM was then fully committed to disarmament of all Nations, in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations Charter to promote global peace and security and also to promote economic development and cooperation amongst member States. The Colombo Summit held in 1976, decided to initiate a Development Fund and a Non-Aligned Bank on the lines of the World Bank.

Ironically, the end of the Cold War was thought to remove the rationale for the existence of NAM. This is a short-sighted view of our Movement. The Non-Aligned States must undertake a much wider role. We remain committed individually and collectively to the upliftment of our peoples from the destruction wrought by colonial rule, and today, the multifarious, negative consequences of globalisation and political hegemony.

The Durban Summit of 1998 recognised the future role of NAM in the formulation of policies in the economic and developmental spheres. I propose that we move forward along that path and formulate a Vision for Cooperation between member States, to meet the challenges of the globalised economy, de-regulation, disadvantageous trade practices and for the acquisition of scientific knowledge and Information Technology.

I, therefore, propose that at this 13th Summit:

- We undertake an appraisal of our new role and adopt a new Vision and a new Plan of Action, focusing on the urgent need for sustainable economic development of each Member State.

- We engage in a serious appraisal of the causes, and seek solutions for the continuing armed conflicts within our countries, as well as for global terrorism.

- We must recognise that terrorism has become the most de-humanising and politically destabilising phenomenon of the 20th Century.

Terrorism differs from revolutionary movements. Revolution is creative, enunciating a new Vision for radical change of socio-economic and power structures in a country. Terrorism is destructive and stems usually from conservatism and revenge and is generated by the political and economic marginalisation and decline of sections of society caused by the indiscriminate spread of the free market economy through the much vaunted process of globalisation. Someone once said, “young hope betrayed, transforms itself into bombs.” Perceived injustice, transforms itself into despair and then violence or terrorism.

We are faced with the desperate need to study and understand the deep-rooted causes of terrorism. The rational political and socio-economic aspirations of peoples must be sifted out of the process of terrorist action and examined separately and addressed honestly and seriously, whilst employing every possible action to prevent the use of terrorism as a political strategy. We need to take concerted action against trafficking in arms and drugs, international crime syndicates, money laundering, illegal fund collection, human smuggling and the recruitment of child soldiers.

NAM could collectively formulate a comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

The Government of Sri Lanka has engaged once again in a serious attempt at resolving our ethnic question and the resulting armed conflict, through negotiations and a Peace Process. The Ceasefire Agreement has lasted now for one year and negotiations continue despite many difficulties.

Here, I wish to say a few words about an impending disaster that looms threateningly over world stability and peace - the so-called Iraq crisis. Sri Lanka’s stand on this issue is clearly on the side of non-intervention, in a sovereign State, without the fullest and due approvals by the UN systems. We have noted that the UN Weapons Inspectors have stated in their last report to the Security Council, (10 days ago,) that Iraq is cooperating in the process of inspection and progress made on many issues. We have still not seen sufficient evidence to justify an armed attack on Iraq. We are strongly of the view that a negotiated settlement can be arrived at, without using violence against Iraq.

We urge that this Summit adopts a resolution to urge all Governments to exercise maximum restraint in this issue.

I wish to recall the words of the World’s First Woman Prime Minister, Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, when she spoke at the first NAM Summit in Belgrade saying that “as a woman and a mother, who understands the thoughts and feelings of millions of women, the mothers of the world, deeply concerned with the preservation of the human race ... Our endeavours should be to influence world opinion to such an extent that governments, however powerful, cannot regard warfare as an alternative to negotiations.”

I propose that at this Summit, we undertake the following:
I. A definition of the new role and responsibilities of NAM.
II. That we evolve systems and procedures for collective and regional action to address common economic issues.
III. That we formulate arrangements for our effective participation in the process of nuclear disarmament of all States.
IV. That we create an independent institution for Conflict Resolution and for the promotion of political and cultural pluralism in member States.
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

The 20th Century has been called the age of extremes. It was our Century. The Century of our generation and that of our parents. It heralded some of humanity’s greatest achievements, but also its most tragic holocausts. Can we not, – the 114 Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement, resolve at this Summit to shed timeworn attitudes which have long hampered progress that is our due, and rededicate ourselves to liberate our nations from the scourge of poverty, violence and conflict that have bedevilled us for too long.

Mr. Chairman,

Permit me to express my sincere appreciation and hearty endorsement of your statement this morning. It was an incisive analysis, presented with your usual courage and brilliance – of the problems and challenges faced by the developing nations – our nations. You pointed to the path NAM should take in the 21st century. For this we need to strengthen the NAM Secretariat. You can count on Sri Lanka’s fullest support in your arduous task as Head of NAM.

Our peoples have bestowed upon us the historic task of rejuvenating NAM to be a vibrant, living force of the less privileged.

Let us together strive to achieve that dream!


President meets World Leaders in Kuala Lumpur

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga joined sixty-two other Heads of State and Government at the Thirteenth Summit of the Non Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, February 24-25, 2003. President Kumaratunga addressed the meeting on the first day and called for restraint in dealing with the Iraq issue.