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Azerbaijan empowers the Non-Aligned Movement as a formidable global actor

The Summit-level Meeting was held in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, on 2 March to respond to COVID-19. Dr. Vasif Huseynov.

Nearly two-thirds (or more) of the United Nations’ member countries are represented by the Non-Aligned Movement. It holds 55% of the global population. The Baku summit was attended by representatives from 160 countries and international organisations, including heads and officials from 60 countries as well as international leaders.

The group discussed issues of global significance, including post-pandemic recovery efforts, international security, and the institutional development for the NAM. All participants recognized the need for the NAM’s “a greater visible and effective role in international arena” and to actively participate in the creation of a new world order, in light of the “most serious confrontation between East-West since the end the Cold War”.

Azerbaijan assumed the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement’s 2019 chairmanship. It has taken a variety of steps to revive the organization and enhance its influence in international relations. Baku made many efforts to unify member countries in the face of the pandemic. Azerbaijan was appointed chairman of NAM in 2020, which coincided with its onset. Azerbaijan initiated the first extraordinary summit of NAM member states virtual, which was attended by more than 45 member states and international organisations. This marked a historic event for the organization. NAM was the first to take the global lead in efforts to combat COVID-19 right after the pandemic. It also countered “vaccine nationalism”, which some wealthy countries were promoting. NAM initiated two resolutions in order to guarantee fair and universal vaccine access for all countries. These resolutions were adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (UN General Assembly) in 2021.


Azerbaijan has continued to lead the UNSC’s reform efforts in the past year. It called on the members to play an active part in achieving these goals. Azerbaijan has been a leading voice for reforms to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Azerbaijan describes this body as “reminiscent of the past”, which “doesn’t reflect modern reality”. Azerbaijan demands that the UNSC allocate one permanent seat to Non-Aligned Movement, and one for Africa. President Aliyev stated that the country which holds the position of Chairman of [Non-Aligned] Movement should be able to have this seat on an ongoing basis and urged other members states “to begin consultations on the issue and submit their opinions to the relevant UN Committee.”

Azerbaijani chairmanship continues to prioritize the recovery of post-pandemic countries. Baku has taken two initiatives this year to help on this path. First, the UN High-Level Panel on Global Recovery From COVID-19 is being called for. This Panel, President Aliyev stated, could make recommendations about global actions for the post-pandemic period. The second initiative concerns the declaration of two Global Calls for support to the post-pandemic recovery in Africa and Small Island Developing States. Azerbaijan was the first donor and provided 1 million US Dollars for both Global Calls. It also invited other members to join the initiative.

Azerbaijan is interested in joining a global movement to address a similar problem. It has one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. The Armenian side has contaminated nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory that was under Armenian illegal occupation for thirty years (1992-202). International experts estimate that Azerbaijan will need to remove landmines from the country for nearly 30 years, and approximately 25 billion dollars. To make our voices heard worldwide, President Aliyev suggested that we form a “Like-Minded Group of Mine Affected Countries”.


The efforts to institutionalize the Non-Aligned Movement were a key task of the Azerbaijani Chairmanship in the past three years. Baku was able to garner enough support for the NAM’s youth network and parliamentary network launch. In June 2013, Baku hosted the first meeting of this parliamentary network. All member countries expressed a willingness to carry on this initiative. On March 13, the second meeting of this network will be held in Bahrain. With the support of member countries, Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, has also supported the establishment of a NAM Support Office in New York as well as the permanent secretariat for the NAM Youth Organization, Baku.

Dr. Vasif Huseynov

These steps are the first step in the institutionalization process for the Movement. This has been a slow process. The inability to develop the institution has been largely due to conflicts and disagreements among some member states and a lack a shared vision about the NAM. It is clear that countries caught in the middle of these rivalries, due to increasing tensions between major powers and a resurgence Cold War attitudes, must work together and coordinate their efforts to protect their interests. In the coming years, there will likely be more efforts to strengthen and institutionalize the NAM.

Dr. Vasif Huseynov heads the Western Studies Department of the Center of Analysis of International Relations, (AIR Center), in Baku.

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