Fiji joins the Non-Aligned Movement

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced Wednesday night that Fiji had joined the Non-Aligned Movement.

Bainimarama described this decision as way to refocus Fiji's relationships away from its traditional trading partners of Australia and New Zealand, towards countries outside of the South Pacific. Joining the Non-Aligned Movement would support the “Look North policy which involves developing relationships with countries outside the southern Pacific sphere,” he said. The Fijian Cabinet of Ministers had agreed to start the process of becoming a member of the Non-Aligned Movement in late February.

The Non-Aligned Movement is an organisation of states that consider themselves to be in a position of neutrality towards the major powers and the associated power blocs. The stated purpose of the organisation according to the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics."

Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji's Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated that today's Non-Aligned Movement "has adopted the broader principles of multilateralism, equality and mutual non-aggression and has morphed into a tool for strengthening leverage when negotiating with the developed world." As of the 2009 conference, there were 118 member countries and 17 observer countries representing almost two-third of the United Nations member nations and over half of the world population.

This decision came shortly after a meeting with Mohammed Omar Abdulla the undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development for Abu Dhabi. Bainimarama was in Abu Dhabi along with the leaders of several other small pacific island states for a summit with the Arab League entitled "Prospects for Cooperation between the Arab world and the Pacific Islands."

Fiji has been looking for trade partnerships with non-traditional partners such as China and India, due to trade sanctions imposed by Fiji's traditional trading partners Australian and New Zealand following the 2006 coup.