Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Recent AASROC: Do we need a new Bandung?

Dmitry Kosyrev, Political Analyst RIA Novosti, Moscow

Do we need a new Bandung? Apparently, yes. The question is, which one? I would sum up thus my personal impressions of the recent session of AASROC -- a ministerial-level conference of Afro-Asian Sub-regional organizations, held in on July 29-30 in Bandung, Indonesia and dedicated to the preparation of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Bandung conference.

Would it be possible not to leave the impression that the event resembles a memorial ceremony for the died hopes of the "third world"?

Apparently, we must try to repeat the experience of the original Bandung conference and give the developing world a new ideology. After all, the first Bandung conference in 1955 laid the foundation for such ideology, which existed for several decades. Even today, some remnants of that ideology still exist.

The Non-Alignment Movement, inspired by that ideology and represented by 117 countries is a strong international organization and an instrument to achieve certain goals used by many countries. There are numerous "third world" organizations created, generally on the same ideological foundation. However, can we trust this foundation completely, after all bitter experience of the past decades?

A new Bandung is necessary not only for developing countries, but also for their neighbors. The doctrine of the Kremlin with regard to the "third world" is as follows: Russia would like to help promote understanding, achieve closer ties and dialog between developing and developed world, in particular, between the Non-Alignment Movement and G8 countries.

Russia believes that with each year there are fewer opportunities for individual countries, continents and "worlds" to achieve isolation from the rest of the world; there is less sense in dividing the world into blocs according to geographic location or development status. However integration should not mean the absorption of the entire world to a few superpowers. Ideally, it should resemble the movement from opposite directions to the common center.

Give Moscow a clear and attractive concept of a new Bandung and it will help the Kremlin to conduct a policy in a more orderly manner.

What would the ideology of "the new Bandung" be like? First of all, such ideology should be devoid of prolonged speeches and resolutions.

Bandung gave the "third world" concise and clear ideas. For instance, the idea that during the war between communism and capitalism there was another political way -- "non-alignment". This concise and simple idea helped many governments conduct sound policies.

The modern developing world is swept by the avalanche of empty words press releases during regular forums. Nobody listened to the speeches and nobody read countless pages of declarations.

It seems that those who want to be heard by the world should attempt to create commercially effective and attractive global media services like Al-Jazeera. The "third world" never managed to assume a key role on the global arena because it failed to reach every household in developed countries through clear and accessible information about its problems, demands and possibilities. The enemies of poor countries are not governments with imperial attitudes, but, instead, pure human traits: Greed, indifference, and self-conceit of the strong.

Those features can be seen all over the globe. We could only use them for better purposes the way global news empires do every day. Those 20 percent of the global population that possess 80 percent of the world riches often do not have the slightest idea about what is going on with the remaining 80 percent of the dwellers of our planet.

In addition, the developing world can and must announce its values, the achievements of its cultures, religions and civilizations loudly and decisively to make others respect them. Many developing countries have used the non-alignment principle to shield political incursions from the West and from the East for decades. Even those who hated it had to respect and accept it.

The principle of plurality of cultures, values and approaches can also help many countries get rid of the complex of being eternal students forced to take repeated "maturity and good manners" exams under the scrutiny of other nations.

The changes in the approaches must be morally acceptable for any person belonging to the "golden billion". And if the West feels that it has the right to hold other countries accountable by presenting lists of human rights violators, other countries must possess this right as well. Such a method will work if the appeals go directly to ordinary voters.

Further, while the developing world is still knocking on the "golden billion's" door, threats in today's world are as useless as supplications. Nobody will ever forget the 1990s, when governmental aid in the area of global development dropped from US$60 billion to $35 billion.

Thus the "first world" enjoyed the fruits of its victory over the "second world" -- the victory, which allowed it to avoid spending funds on bribing certain "third world" regimes. Only the fear of terrorism forced the developed world to consider the return to the previous aid levels.

The same fear mixed with the sense of military superiority led to the tragedy in Iraq. Still, there are factors even stronger than weapons -- greed and the envy of businesspeople. Money attracts money, and success attracts success.

This means cooperation along the South-South axis. Developing countries can achieve success along these lines if they manage to show that at least some of them are sufficiently rich and influential to survive on their own.

The world is barely aware of the fact that the South can successfully trade with the South, even if that includes a few countries such as India, South Africa, Malaysia and several others. South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana C. Dlamini Zuma promised recently in Bandung to create a new strategic partnership among developing countries in the sphere of politics and economy. Very well.

Let this new partnership, which will attract the interest of companies and organizations, instead of governments, emerge alongside the world of dollars and regulations of the World Trade Organization, and make it become envious and willing to cooperate with a new economic reality.

Give us a new Bandung -- simple, understandable, and attractive for a billion of voters in the developed world -- and they will force their governments to cooperate with this emerging reality themselves.