The Non-Aligned Movement never was and can never be a platform for pursuits that undermine the territorial integrity of a State by another State, India said on Friday, asserting that individual nations must think before raising issues not on the agenda of the forum.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) had the potential to take the lead in addressing the primary issues of the current times that demand global cooperation.
"On the other hand, if we take up issues that divide rather than unite us, reducing our Movement to a platform for venting bilateral grievances or for embarrassing fellow Members, we will soon become a weak and irrelevant entity, with no say at all in global decision making," he said in his address to the virtual Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement.
He said individual members must "stop and think" before raising issues that are not on the agenda and which find no resonance in the wider membership.
"NAM never was and never can be a platform for pursuits aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of a State by another State," he said.
Muraleedharan added that when the NAM members stand together and speak in one voice, for instance in the Movement's steadfast commitment to the cause of Palestine, "we can and do have a decisive influence on global outcomes - we can be a force for good."
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded "us of our interconnectedness, and dependence on each other," he said.
"We cannot fight this adversary alone. It is the people of our countries that stand to be hardest hit by this pandemic and its consequences. Just as this disease does not respect borders, our fight against it must be coordinated to be effective," he said.
Muraleedharan said unfortunately the pandemic was not the only pressing challenge of the current times.
"Terrorism and their enablers continue to spread their tentacles unabated. Misinformation and fake news are wreaking havoc on social cohesion and collective security, he said.
"Climate change has become an existential threat, especially to the most vulnerable SIDS (Small Island Developing States) countries. Humanitarian emergencies are straining capacities. Cybersecurity threats and the uneven impact of frontier technologies are causing turbulence. Development concerns remain paramount for the vast majority of the world's population, he said.
The strength of the NAM family lies in its diversity, its shared developmental experience, and its youthful populations brimming with hope and aspirations, he said.
"We must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of this pandemic on the most vulnerable sections of our society. NAM's unique tradition of promoting South-South cooperation can provide a way out as societies look to rebuild and regenerate in the wake of this crisis," he said.
With the year 2020 marking the 65th anniversary of the landmark Bandung Conference that resulted in the adoption of the founding principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, he said the milestone was a good time to reflect.
"Even as we call for effective and reformed multilateralism, we need to introspect, reform and revitalise the current arrangements of our own movement, to enable us to pursue a focused, positive and transformative agenda going forward," he said, adding that "we live in times when more, and not less, collaborative efforts are needed".
The NAM has a glorious past. However, how the future will depend on how we perform in addressing the defining challenges of our era, Muraleedharan said, adding that as nations contend with challenges, it is the principles of solidarity and cooperation that will guide the way.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance made in his recent address to the 75th session of the UN General Assembly that India's immense vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting the crisis, Muraleedharan said this was a manifestation of the approach that will guide India as it takes up its responsibilities as non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2021-22 and Presidency of the G20 in 2022.
India will deploy its rich developmental experience for the peace and welfare of humanity, treating the world as one family, he said.