'Non-Aligned' Nations Focus on Israel, Disregard Darfur

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Representatives of 118 developing nations meeting in Havana ended their summit with declarations supporting Iran and Sudan, condemning Israel, and criticizing some American policies.

However, language pertaining to the United States was somewhat toned down from earlier drafts drawn up by Cuba, the host government.

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) heads of state and other delegates put their names to documents including one on the role and principles of NAM "in the present international situation," separate statements on Iran and "Palestine," and an 80-page final declaration.

An earlier draft of the "present international situation" text contained numerous veiled attacks on U.S. "hegemony" and a reference to "the rejection of unilateralism and the attempt to impose a unipolar world."

Many of those references had been removed in the version accepted by the delegates, although the final document did retain the phrase "to condemn all manifestations of unilateralism and attempts to exercise hegemonic domination in international relations."

While the Cuban draft decried "the existence of a unipolar world and the attempts at hegemonic domination," the final version was softened to push for "a multipolar world order."

A reference to "the present unjust international order" survived the changes.

In their 40,000-word final declaration, the NAM countries covered a range of political and economic topics and situations around the world.

Despite the international focus of attention on the humanitarian crisis in western Sudan - Sunday was a global day of action for Darfur -- just eight lines of the declaration dealt with the conflict there.

They made no reference to U.N. attempts to send peacekeepers to Darfur -- a move Khartoum is resisting -- but expressed support for Sudan's "efforts to sustain and reinforce peace."

Iran's nuclear activities did not merit a mention in the lengthy declaration (although a separate statement on Iran supported its right to a "peaceful" nuclear program, voiced opposition to any attack or threat of attack against nuclear facilities, and said the dispute must be settled through "diplomacy and dialogue.")

Another major crisis, North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons, was covered in seven lines, while the longstanding India-Pakistan dispute did not get a mention.

By contrast, the document gave six pages to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and another two pages to the recent Israel-Hizballah conflict and Israel's presence on the "occupied Syrian Golan."

It also "condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals," although there was no equivalent criticism of NAM members North Korea, India or Pakistan.

Other issues of interest in the final declaration included:

-- Rejection of "the use of the term 'axis of evil' by a certain State to target other States under the pretext of combating terrorism."

-- Rejection of the compiling of lists accusing states of supporting terrorism. The document said such accusations in themselves constituted "a form of psychological and political terrorism." All nations currently on the State Department's list of terror-sponsors - Iran, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and Cuba - are members of NAM.

-- Expressions of concern about "aggressive" U.S. policies towards President Hugo Chavez's government in Venezuela.

-- Calls for the U.S. to return Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba and to stop "aggressive" broadcasts aimed at the communist-ruled island. NAM said "those measures constitute a violation of Cuba's sovereignty and a massive violation of the human rights of its people."

-- Condemnation of terrorism, but with the qualification that "terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for self-determination and national liberation."

-- Calls for the U.N. Security Council permanent members' veto power to be curtailed and eventually eliminated. Suggestions include allowing two-thirds of the General Assembly to override a veto decision.

NAM's members account for 60 percent of the U.N.'s 192 member states.

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow