Understanding resilience in international relations: the Non-Aligned Movement and ontological security

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Born more than half a century ago, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) embodied the collective identity and aspirations of newly independent nations in Africa and Asia. Since the end of the Cold War, NAM’s relevance has been brought into question given the passing of the geopolitical context that motivated its creation. More recently, in the wake of the NAM’s Tehran meeting in August 2012, myriad analyses have yet again questioned NAM’s political effectiveness and legitimacy as an ideologically coherent vehicle for developing countries’ definition of common positions on a host of global issues. Drawing from the literature on ontological security, I argue that NAM’s enduring relevance, legitimacy and institutional resilience are the result of some of its key member states’ adherence to the core principles of non-alignment. Notwithstanding the
profound changes in both the international system and in the political and socio-economic contexts of most NAM’s members since the movement’s creation, these principles have fundamentally shaped their post-colonial identities in international relations. I claim that NAM’s contemporary resilience derives from the stabilising sense of continuity the movement provides by reifying developing states’ shared identity in an increasingly de-centred and uncertain global order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-311
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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