On April 18-24, 1955, a meeting comprised of twenty-nine countries from Asia and Africa gathered in Bandung, Indonesia. The conference was co-sponsored by Pakistan, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Most of the attending countries were newly independent, and the representative population of these countries was 1.5 billion people. The point of this conference was to promote economic cooperation, cultural awareness, and opposition to colonialism. This conference was also a step towards the formation of the Non-Alignment Movement. Formed in 1961, this organization is a forum of 120 global states and nations not affiliated with any global power block.
The latter part of the 1940s saw a rise in emerging new nations from Africa and Asia. The idea came from Jawaharlal Nehru, the primary organizer of the conference, after the Asian Relations Conference of 1947. China’s leader, Mao Zedong, was also involved in the organization of the conference, as well. Mao saw himself as a guide to emerging nations in the wake of the anti-imperial and colonial movements felt by these emerging nations, especially since he had the experience.
The conference had the goals of the promotion of goodwill and cooperation between new nations. Discussions explored mutual interests, identification of social-economic and cultural problems, addressed racism, rejected colonialism, and established the presence and viability of these new Asian and African nations in global politics. The conference was a natural extension to the thoughts and feelings these emerging nations had toward Western powers failing to consult them about Cold War tensions, China/US relations, Chinese/Asian relations, and their disdain of colonialism. One result of the conference was a ten-point declaration.
The Ten Points
- Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations.
- Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
- Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small.
- Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
- Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations.
- (a) Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve any particular interests of the big powers.
(b) Abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries.
- Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
- Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties own choice, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations.
- Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation.
- Respect for justice and international obligations.
Sadly, ten years after the conference, the solidarity felt at the 1955 conference had long begun to erode. Follow-up attempts to have another meeting failed in both 1961 and 1964-65. As Indonesia and China organized another conference, India, Yugoslavia, and Egypt planned a conference with less anti-Western sentiment. A second Asian-African Conference, urged by Indonesia and China, never gained the footing and was indefinitely postponed. However, in the year of the 50th anniversary, Asian and African leaders met again in Jakarta and Bandung and launched the NAASP or the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership.