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Azerbaijan and the Non-Aligned Movement

Azerbaijan and the Non-Aligned Movement

Latvian President Egils Levits recently proclaimed, “Azerbaijan plays a paramount role in the Non-Aligned Movement including 120 member states,” stressing that Azerbaijan has inspired many countries during its chairman of the block of states during a period when the pandemic struck our world.   During its chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan has been a strong advocate against vaccine nationalism, has argued for the expansion of the UN Security Council, claiming that there are many emerging powers who should also have a voice and also has been an outspoken critic of various countries colonial past.

In an exclusive interview, Azerbaijani journalist Anastasia Lavrina noted, “The chairman of Azerbaijan in the non-aligned movement was quite successful.   By the decision of the majority of members of the group, the chairman of Azerbaijan was prolonged one more year.   All countries participated in the efforts of Azerbaijan especially its President Ilham Aliyev during the pandemic.   He came up with the idea of having a special session in the United Nations to make sure that all countries have equal access to the vaccine.   Azerbaijan helped many countries to get access to the vaccine or offered financial support to help the countries to survive in a difficult time.”

International human rights lawyer Irina Tsukerman concurred: “I think that many of the vaccines in Western countries are wasted.   Many people did not want to take them.  Some of the countries refused to export and donate vaccines that were about to expire and were not going to be of use to anyone in the US and Europe.  I think the priority should always be about saving lives, not hoarding products that they cannot even use.   Instead of giving people fourth vaccines, which have marginal utility, people should give vaccines to people who did not even have the first shot.   I think it is admirable that Azerbaijan led this COVID vaccination movement and donated to many countries in the developing world.  The virus does not have a major effect on people who have been vaccinated, but people who have not and live in countries with weak medical systems should be using these vaccines.   This should be our target and there is a lot of work to be done in this regard.”

Regarding the expansion of the UN Security Council, Lavrina noted, “The countries in the Non-Aligned Movement should have their voice inside the UN Security Council.   The countries in the Muslim world should also have their own voice inside the UN Security Council.   The Azerbaijani leader is speaking about that and trying to make sure that the voice of many countries in the world in the Non-Aligned Movement is being heard in the global arena.   This was also highlighted by the Forum of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was recently held in Baku.”

Interestingly, Hugo Wavrin, the deputy legal advisor of France to the United Nations, was supportive of Azerbaijan’s idea of expanding the UN Security Council: “First of all, with regard to the size of the Security Council, it appears from the most recent documents produced within the framework of the IGN, but also from the first two debates held this year, that an enlarged Council could include between 21 and 27 members.  These elements are in line with the approach that France defends: an enlarged Council, which would be more representative and more effective, and would include up to 25 permanent and non-permanent members. In this regard, France reiterates its support for the candidacy of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan as permanent members of the Security Council, as well as for a stronger presence of African countries, including among the permanent members.”

Interestingly, France supports Azerbaijan’s position on this, immediately after Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev addressed the Non-Aligned Movement, where he was highly critical of France, “Now the world is witnessing the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War, with repercussions for the remaining part of the world. As the second largest international institution after the UN, NAM should play a more visible and efficient role in the international arena and actively participate in reshaping the new world order.”

According to him, “More cases of violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity and intervention in the internal affairs of states are observed. The decisions of the leading international organizations are not either implemented or the selective approach and double standards are being applied.”

He noted, “The French-administered territories outside Europe are nasty remains of the French colonial empire. We also call on France to apologize and admit its responsibility for its colonial past and bloody colonial crimes and acts of genocide against NAM member countries in Africa, South-East Asia and other places.”

Lavrina proclaimed: “We live in a new world order.   France has to build a relationship with its former colonies on an equal basis.   They have to stop looking at these states as colonies but rather as equal states, which should have mutually beneficial relations.” According to her, “Algeria said several times that France has to apologize for the genocide committed in Algeria.”   Over a course of eight years starting in 1954, approximately 1.5 million Algerians were killed and millions more were displaced.  

Tsukerman had a different take on the matter: “France’s legacy is very complicated.   Napoleon had brought civil law to many countries he conquered.  France was very helpful in many ways to the establishment of the new world order.  But at the same time, there was a lot of violence and imposition of power.   With the colonial legacy, there was an exploitation of resources and people, especially in Africa, which has unresolved issues to this day.  On the one hand, they learned additional languages and got some opportunities from French education.”

According to her, “On the other hand, France intervened in local politics.  They essentially acted as conquerors.   They exploited the locals.   They are responsible for a lot of the difficult outcomes of the past.   Quite frankly, other powers have been able to use this colonial self-consciousness, Russia being the prime example, to push these countries away from being self-sustaining and taking the best from the past and best of the different cultures to build their own independent identity.   For this reason, France’s role in international affairs is extremely complicated, more than any other power due to chauvinism.”

Tsukerman concluded: “On the other hand, one cannot claim that all of colonialism has been completely for naught and there is nothing positive to be learned.  You can always take away something positive and incorporate this element in the culture and move on.   I think it is correct to say that France has not learned any lessons from the past.”  Up until this point, Tsukerman was critical of how France treated its former colonies: “Rather than moving towards more partnerships and agreements with their former colonies, they continue to treat them as a lesser vassal state, whether in Africa and now in Azerbaijan and Armenia.   They want to reassert their identity, which is wrong.  France cannot change the past, but the fact that they continue to utilize the same outdated methods that the world has thoroughly rejected to contemporary realities is not acceptable.”  



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.