Egypt and the Non-Aligned Movement

Egypt and the Non-Aligned Movement

Reviewed by: Wafaa El-houseiny

Translated by: Aya Barakat 

Egypt and the Non-Aligned Movement

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded by the countries that attended the Bandung Conference in 1955 AD. The movement is the result of the war between the two sides (the western camp led by the United States of America, which includes NATO), (and the eastern camp led by the Soviet Union, which includes the Warsaw Pact)

Egypt is considered one of the most important founding countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. It has a pivotal and recognized role in founding and creating the movement, developing it, and supporting its survival and continuation due to its great regional and international weight as it includes nearly two-thirds of the world’s member states of the United Nations, it represents the most important and broadest framework for coordinating the positions of developing countries regarding the various political, economic, and social issues on the agenda of the international system. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser is one of the founders of this movement, in addition to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal, Yugoslav President Tito, and Indonesian President Ahmed Soekarno. This movement aims to maintain peace and security in the world, eliminate colonialism significantly, and achieve justice among all countries, respect all members, promote interests of common concern, and respect human rights.

Egypt had a clear contribution to transforming ideas related to non-alignment into a tangible reality when the movement was founded and hosted its second summit in 1964 AD, and the fifteenth summit of leaders and heads of state of the movement in Sharm El-Sheikh during the period from 11 to 16 July 2009 AD, this summit represents a qualitative leap in the path of the Non-Aligned Movement in the twenty-first century; Amid the upsurge of the Movement for National Independence and Emancipation at the global level, this Summit marked a paradigm shift in the history of the Non-Aligned Movement as it emerged from the overall political framework to the delicate phase, addressing in-depth issues, and began the process of arranging the problems on the agenda according to their quality in what has become tradition, or fixed chapters in the Movement's subsequent final statements.

Egypt's outstanding performance during its presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement has contributed to the success of the Movement's activities over the past period, enabling the Movement to speak with one voice and respond effectively to any developments in the international arena.

Since assuming the presidency of the Fifteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt has built on the accumulated achievements achieved by the previous presidencies of the Movement in order to strengthen its role at the international level, especially within the framework of the United Nations, and has continued to make efforts and coordinate with all member states to complete the faithful implementation of the Sharm El-Sheikh Action Plan to the next summit in Iran.

The documents issued by the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit stressed the importance of cooperation between the South and the South on the one hand, and between them and the advanced industrial countries of the North on the other hand. And warned against some industrial countries taking unilateral decisions in economic, financial, and trade situations that would have a very negative impact on developing countries, in addition to the importance of Cooperation between the Group of 77 and Non-Aligned countries, which overlap in goals and membership, and the Group of 15 that emerged from the Non-Aligned Movement in the mid-eighties of the twentieth century and usually holds its meetings on the sidelines of the movement’s conferences.

During Egypt's presidency of the Movement, both Azerbaijan and the Fiji Islands were accredited with membership, and the adoption of the "Bali Declaration" of the Non-Aligned Movement on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding the Movement, which set out the main objectives and steps to deal with contemporary challenges and sets out the vision of the members of the Movement on global issues and challenges over the coming years.

Former President Mohamed Morsi participated in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was hosted by the Iranian capital, Tehran, during the period from August 30-31, 2012, in which he transferred the presidency of the summit from Egypt to Iran.

The world and the Middle East witnessed important developments between Egypt’s presidency of the movement at the Sharm El-Sheikh summit in 2009 AD, and the Iran summit in August 2021 AD, starting with the global financial crisis that broke out in the United States of America and escalated with Obama’s presidency. The Arab revolutions took place from Tunisia through Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, the secession of South Sudan, the departure of American troops from Iraq, but still under American military and political control and growing Iranian influence, and the escalation of diplomatic war, threats, sanctions and boycotts against Iran over its nuclear dossier and accusation of seeking to manufacture a nuclear weapon. The Movement's influential role, therefore, is important in view of these important developments on the international scene.

On May 4, 2020, President Abdelfattah El-Sisi participated in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit entitled " "United in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic", with the participation of a number of Heads of State and Government of the Movement, including President Ilham Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan and current Chairman of the Movement, along with the President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Director of the World Health Organization, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the Vice-President of the European Commission. The summit was designed to discuss and coordinate the Non-Aligned Movement member states on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and discuss ways to deal with this crisis in all its health, social, and economic aspects.

In his statement at the summit, President El-Sisi stressed the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in order to respond effectively and urgently to the coronavirus crisis, especially by working to ensure the provision of necessary medical and preventive supplies, intensifying scientific research efforts to develop a medicine and a vaccine for the coronavirus, concerted international efforts to support developing countries and provide stimulus packages to their economies and reduce the impact of the crisis on global food security.

The President also stressed that the Non-Aligned Movement must play a fundamental role in this regard, in light of Egypt being one of the founding countries of the movement, and based on the fact that it represents an important and broad framework for coordinating the positions of developing countries regarding the various issues on the agenda of the international system.

In October of the same year, on the sidelines of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, the virtual ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement was held with the participation of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry through visual communication means, Shoukry stressed on the meeting the advanced priority Egypt attaches to the Movement as an important framework for coordinating developing countries' positions on the various issues on the agenda of the international system, pointing out the need for its members to join forces to restore confidence in multilateral mechanisms of action and to address the current polarization in the international system in order to meet the multiple challenges facing our world today.

Minister Shukri further stressed the need for the Movement's concerted efforts to combat terrorism and dehydrate terrorism, establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, develop rules for Internet governance and maintain cybersecurity. Egypt's firm position in support of the priority of political solutions to the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, as well as the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the pivotal Palestinian issue in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy in order to achieve the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to end the occupation and establish an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On June 4, 2021, Ambassador Dr. Ahmed Ihab Gamal El-Din, Egypt’s permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, participated in the meeting of labor ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement countries, which was held on the sidelines of the 109th session of the International Labor Conference. In his speech, He stressed the interest that Egypt gives to the Non-Aligned Movement as one of its founders, stressing its pivotal role in the multilateral framework and in enhancing cooperation between developing countries to achieve a better future for our people. Ambassador Gamal El-Din discussed the measures taken by Egypt to mitigate the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic by adopting financial and monetary policies to stimulate the economy, granting a preferential interest rate on loans, delaying tax and credit benefits, strengthening the social protection system, labor inspection procedures, and paying allowances to irregular workers. Of which 40% are women, it finances projects for women, launches educational programs to integrate them into the labor market, and grants exceptional leave to pregnant women, to care for children, and to women with disabilities.

On August 22, 2021, Ambassador Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the Non-Aligned Movement, its expansion, the joining of developing countries to it, and the adoption of the principles of the countries that created it, saying that it had achieved balance and stability in foreign relations, at a time characterized by tension, and the dominance of one party over the other. Finally, it also worked to achieve balanced relations and meet the aspirations of developing people for stability and development. Shukri added, during his speech at a press conference currently being held, with his Serbian counterpart, Nikola Sekolavic, that the past years have witnessed a lot of tension and challenges that have affected the course of the Non-Aligned Movement and its ability, and trends have also emerged that have affected the movement’s ability to achieve the goals for which it was established. Shukri called for more interaction between members of the movement and shaping the future, identifying challenges and reaching a point of consensus on how to move forward with the movement, in a way that achieves the interests of its members. The Foreign Minister stressed that Egypt is committed to coordination and relies on solidarity between the Movement's States and many international organizations to formulate common positions, adding: "When the Non-Aligned Movement speaks with one voice, it is the active influential voice that is adopted". Egypt considers the Non-Aligned Movement to be the most important and broader framework for coordinating developing countries' positions on the various political, economic and social issues on the United Nations agenda, and supporting multilateral collective action in the face of unilateral, unilateral policies, which are one of the major challenges facing Third World States, the majority of which are members of the interests of the world.

Egypt shows great interest in the movement and the need to preserve it due to its great regional and international weight, as it includes nearly two-thirds of the world’s member states of the United Nations, and thus represents a significant voting bloc, and work must be done to strengthen relations between its countries to defend its interests and the interests of its people.

One of the basic pillars on which the Egyptian position on the Non-Aligned Movement is based is that if the movement arose under a bipolar international system, the difference in these circumstances imposes the development of the movement’s tools in a way that gives it the possibility of contributing - through constructive and realistic positions that enjoy consensus from all its countries - Influencing the course of international interactions.

Egypt believes that the cracks witnessed in the international arena today in the basic pillars and principles upon which the Non-Aligned Movement was founded is a matter of concern, especially with regard to non-interference in the internal affairs of states, respect for their sovereignty, stability, and the independence of their decisions, and the insufficiency of both national sovereignty and regional unity to prevent interference in the internal affairs of countries. Rather, internal affairs themselves have become an excuse and a mask for those who wish to impose their control over others. These are all serious challenges that impose the necessity of continuing the movement while rebuilding it and developing its capabilities.

The movement's documents and its path confirm the historical role played – and still playing by Egypt - in developing the movement and infusing a new spirit into its body and this constitutes the pioneering Egyptian role in establishing and building the Non-Aligned Movement, In addition to its cultural and political weight, the basis in which Egypt relies on to support the movement’s future journey by intensifying its joint efforts with many countries seeking to support the movement in order to develop its goals and mechanisms, and make it more efficient in dealing with the major changes taking place in the global arena politically, economically, and culturally. Especially after the movement transformed from an entity that included 25 countries at its first founding summit to a huge entity that currently includes 118 countries belonging to the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Egypt's active participation in the summits of the Non-Aligned Movement - since the founding of the Movement - demonstrates its continued interaction and leadership, not only within its territory but also globally in advancing the issues of developing countries so that they can obtain their politically equitable and developmental share in the international arena, convinced of the importance of strengthening multilateral collective action by supporting the United Nations, its organizations, and its agencies, most notably the General Assembly, and reforming and restructuring the UN Security Council with the aim of binding member states to its decisions, and not pushing these countries to work outside the international system, and far from the framework of International legitimacy.