"The 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the AAPSO, Experience and future Prespectives

"The 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the  Afro-Asaian Peoples' Solidarity Organization Experiences and
Future Perspectives" Nouri Abdul Razzak Hussain*

Today, we are commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) We would like, on this occasion, to not only give an historic account of the mission and activities of the Organization or details of this historic period but to draw from the lessons gained during its historic course in order to erect the bases for the future of its mission and its activities.

Our concern today is the status of AAPSO in the contemporary world. What is its strategy 40 years after its establishment? How will AAPSO continue to implement its objectives in a world which radically differs from the world when it was conceived?
Many other questions can be posed before us.

I believe that the following points are fundamental and in accordance with the discussions raised on the future of the Organization and its plan of action during the next stage.
The root cause for the creation of our Organization was not conceived from an emergency situation which stimulated the Movement at the end of December 1957 or the declaration of its establishment on 1st January 1958. Its historic roots extend longer by far. We will not deal here with the Afro-Asian revival at the dawn of this century; the establishment of the Indian National Congress Party in 1885; or the creation of the Muslim League parallel to the Indian National Congress Party in 1903; the Boxers movement of 1900 in China that rose to struggle against foreign occupation, or other movements that appeared in the Arab world. All these are a strong manifestation of Afro-Asian revival. However, we shall deal with the fundamental roots that ushered the formation of AAPSO before and after the Second World War when national awareness reached its peak.
At the outset, let us commence with the Asian Relations Conference held from 22 March to 3 April 1947 in Delhi in which 250 representatives from 25 Asian countries participated as well as those from Australia and New Zealand as observers. India, then, had not yet gained its independence officially. Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of the interim government. In this conference, he reconfirmed the intrinsic principles of the Non-Aligned Movement that was born 15 years later, when he said in his address, " We have laid a strong foundation for our work. I hope that this endeavor will continue, that this towering tree of Asian unity that has brought us together will culminate into something wonderful…. universal peace based on freedom. For we, at present, cannot separate the destiny of one people from the destiny of other peoples because they interact together. Any sane person can understand that it is impossible to disassociate the problems confronting us today.
It is impossible - as has been said a long time ago - there cannot be a world which is half free and half under the yoke of slavery, nor part of the world torn by war and another part enjoying peace. Freedom is for all, peace is for the entire world". This was the vision predicted by Nehru more than 50 years ago. This is the fundamental principle of the Non-Aligned Movement that emerged later on.
The world has taken long strides during the last half century, from the Asian Relations Conference, to the Afro-Asian Conference held from 18-24 Apri11955 in Bandung, then to the Conference for the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Belgrade from 1-6 September 1961.
The Asian Relations Conference decided in its last session to establish an organization for Asian relations. A provisional general council to this effect was elected, presided over by Nehru. During this period the international arena was witnessing very important changes. In Africa, the momentum of liberation movements became more powerful. The Fifth PAN African Conference that was convened in Manchester, Britain in 1945 augured a new stage in the struggle for African independence. Moreover, the July revolution in Egypt 1952 was a source of inspiration for many African countries. The outbreak of the Algerian peoples' armed struggle as well as the struggles in Ghana, Kenya, Guinea and others were only a few examples of the growing African rejection of imperialist domination.
Before such developments and in the atmosphere of the Cold War initiated by imperialist countries; leaders of newly independent Afro-Asian States felt the necessity for solidarity between the peoples of the two continents.
Following the meeting of the Prime Ministers of Burma, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ceylon, (Sri Lanka now) held in Colombo from 28 April to 2 May 1954, individual measures were taken to convene an Afro-Asian conference. This took place in Bandung, Indonesia from 18-24 April 1955 in which 29 countries participated, 22 were Asian and 6 were from Africa, Turkey was also present.
The ten principles endorsed by the Bandung Conference established the basis of a new form of relations between countries. The main principle was peaceful coexistence regardless of the differences in social systems, as a substitute for the Cold War policy.
Hence, the Bandung Conference was an expression of the re-emergence of the Afro-Asian identity. It was the first gathering of its kind where such a number of Asian and African leaders congregated to discuss the problems of both continents. They decided that they should practice their sovereign rights in defining their internal and foreign policy. They expressed their deep concern with respect to the deteriorating international situation and focused first and foremost on international peace and the elimination of colonialism and racism. They urged the peoples of the world to cooperate in all scientific, cultural and technological fields either within newly independent Afro-Asian countries or others.
Before the convening of the Bandung Conference, a non-governmental conference met in New Delhi in 1955 in cooperation with the Indian Peace Council and a number of Asian Peace Committees. Representatives from nearly all Asian countries were present. This Conference decided the establishment of an Afro-Asian Committee which called for the convening of the First Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference in Cairo. The International Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee that emanated from the Delhi meeting was headed by Ramshwari Nehru, the outstanding Indian personality who came to Cairo at the head of the delegation and supported by Jawaharlal Nehru. They met President Gamal Abdel Nasser and proposed to him the idea of creating an organization for the two continents with its headquarters in Cairo as an expression of Afro-Asian identity and a symbol for uniting the struggling forces against imperialism, for national liberation and social development. President Nasser agreed to this request which was a symbol of Asian will; as well as the continuation of Nehru's ideas and complemented African revival whose indications appeared throughout the African continent. The Conference convened on 26 December 1957 in Cairo gave birth to the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization in 1st January 1958.
The choice of Cairo as the seat of AAPSO was but a recognition of the long heroic struggle of the Egyptian people who, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, won a victory against the Tripartite Aggression and succeeded in nationalizing the Suez Canal. Moreover, they contributed effectively to the downfall of colonial empires in the two continents and sparked the national struggles of Arab, African and Asian peoples.
Since its establishment AAPSO has been inspired by the spirit and objectives of Bandung. The Founding Conference in Cairo declared that the principles adopted in Bandung in April 1955 should be the basis for international relations. The Organization sought to discuss the principles of Bandung and promoted them among the Afro-Asian Peoples. Furthermore, it also mobilized moved by the same spirit - world public opinion to support the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since its creation as a continuation of the Bandung Conference.
AAPSO has been and continues to be the only international organization with observer status in the NAM.
AAPSO and its National Committees consolidated NAM since its inception with a view to mobilizing popular support by means of seminars, round table meetings and colloquia in order to provide all aspects to enhance the Movement. AAPSO in its capacity as a peoples' organization of the Third world and countries of the South, will continue to further the concepts of NAM and seek to disseminate its ideas and decisions.
President Gamal Abdel Nasser, in his address delivered to the Founding Conference of AAPSO, praised the role of the Movement and its future. Moreover, the distinguished Indian Mrs. Ramshwari Nehru heading her delegation in the same Conference reaffirmed that the peoples who suffered from the imperialist yoke felt no rancour nor hatred in their hearts. She said that the Organization holding two heroic continents will have a great future.
She said: "We are certain that its mission will not only be devoted to the unity and solidarity of Asia and Africa but for all the peoples of the world. Our aim is to change the course of the imperialist world towards reform, cooperation and friendship. For we are humble people, we come from simple homes, we do not want to dominate, our strength is derived from our sincere objectives, our aim is to rise with our peoples who are suffering from imperialism towards attaining their rights to freedom and self-determination. We wish to realize this objective by negotiations not war. We are the advocates of peace, there should be no doubt about our intentions. We are not biased with any peoples or bloc. We have disregarded blocs because they have driven the world to poverty and misery instead of solving problems. They have left behind them complex problems and instigated hatred and rancour which have made life unbearable".
Today, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary we still find that those sincere and simple words are an expression of our Organization and the struggles of its peoples.
The participants in the first Conference stressed their desire for peace and their freedom from the shackles and woes of war, colonialism, imperialism and hatred. Hence, the Afro-Asian peoples will be capable of averting war if they persist on establishing peace. This positive attitude was transformed into active endeavors for peace. Thus the resolutions and recommendations of the Founding Conference were the message of the New Year... the year of 1958 which was diffused to the world. It crystallized the position of the peoples of these two continents against imperialism, colonialism, racial discrimination, exploitation and domination in all its forms. Moreover, it also indicated its position vis-à-vis equality, self-determination and taking the initiative in implementing economic restructuring programmes, accomplishing free exchange in economic and social fields on the basis of friendly relations and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
The Conference also underlined its position vis-à-vis its commitment to mutual cooperation and reaffirmed that exploitation, colonial hegemony would not be tolerated in this age. Therefore, the conference strongly condemned colonialism in all its forms.
The Second Conference was held in Conakry in April 1960 under the patronage of President Ahmed Sekou Toure who actively participated in it. This Conference laid the solid organizational structure of the Afro-Asian movement in its struggle against colonialism and exerted valuable efforts that left their indelible marks and communicated to the world the lofty objective adopted by the solidarity Movement.
The Third Conference was held in Moshi, Tanzania (Tanganyika) in February 1963. It was a period in which fierce liberation movements prevailed. The Afro-Asian peoples launched massive attacks against the bastions of traditional colonialism and struck them down one after the other. The Moshi Conference made an in-depth analysis of neo-colonialism as a new form of imperialism. Although the independence of certain states was recognized they were subjugated to indirect and devious forms of political, economic and military domination.
The Conference stressed that neo-colonialism was the greatest threat against the newly independent Afro-Asian countries as well as those on their way to independence. Therefore the Conference focused on the means to strengthen the unity of the peoples of the three continents: Asia, Africa and Latin America.
AAPSO held its Fourth Conference in Winneba, Ghana in May 1965. The late President Nkrumah played an important role in the success of this conference. Its task was to reunite and coordinate Afro-Asian peoples' struggles against imperialism and neo-colonialism in order to ensure their political as well as their economic, cultural and social liberation. Moreover, its task was also to find ways and means to implement the recommendations previously adopted in the Moshi Conference in this respect and to take necessary measures for reinforcing Afro-Asian Solidarity and aborting the attempts of imperialist countries to break-up this solidarity.
AAPSO at the Winneba Conference seemed more comprehensive and the urgent question was how to widen the scope of solidarity in order to include the three continents: Asia, Africa and Latin America. Consequently, for the first time, the issue of coordinating the struggles of the three continents was raised in the Fourth of Session of the AAPSO Council held in Bandung in April 1961. That was the same month as the attack against the Bay of Pigs in Cuba which was foiled by the Cuban people. This resounding victory added another incentive to solidarity among the peoples of the three continents.
During the Third Conference of AAPSO in Moshi, February 1963, Fidel Castro called for the convening of the First Conference of Afro-Asian and Latin American peoples. It was held in January 1966 in Havana, Cuba and was regarded as a significant international event. For the first time in history, delegations from organizations struggling against colonialism in the three continents met to unite their efforts in an attempt to destroy all forms of colonialism and regression in the three continents.
AAPSO intensified its activities in the wake of the Fifth historic Conference held in Cairo in 1972 which was truly the turning point in the history of the Organization. Activities and efforts were accelerated to give impetus to the Solidarity Movement, consolidate its role in the international arena and to strengthen its contribution to progress, peace and independence. The Conference discussed the issues of colonialism and racial discrimination, neo-colonialism in Africa. It also addressed the problems of Indo-China, problems of development and peace, detente, disarmament, European security, as well as problems of youth and women. The Fifth Conference also dealt in particular with the Israeli aggression against Arab peoples in 1967. A number of important resolutions were adopted. Some were, to restore Arab- Palestinian rights and the occupied territories and to eliminate the effects of aggression.
The Sixth Conference was held in June 1984 in Algeria and recorded a new development in the Afro-Asian Solidarity Movement and renewed its struggle for independence.
In March 1974, the Eleventh Council of the Organization, held in Baghdad introduced important definitions and amendments in its constitution. The Council dealt with the objectives, membership, formation, responsibilities and the duties of its different bodies after annulling the Executive Committee and creating a Presidium that would contribute to fostering cooperation among the democratic and national forces whose objectives conformed with those of AAPSO and were outside the geographic borders of the African and Asian continents. Its task was to unify relations between AAPSO and governmental and non-governmental organizations and coordinate action programmes between AAPSO and regional and international organizations.
It is worthy to note that AAPSO was initiated to highlight Afro-Asian identity at all levels. Under its umbrella the Afro-Asian Writers Union was founded and held its first conference in Tashkent, September 1958. In addition the First Afro-Asian Youth Conference was held in Cairo in 1959, the First Afro-Asian Women's Conference in Cairo in 1961, and the Afro-Asian Jurists Conference in Conakry in 1961. Hence our Organization was accompanied by highlighting Afro-Asian identity. This was the mission undertaken by AAPSO under the shadow of colonial hegemony. Yet this noble mission was not easily accomplished. There were upheavals and constraints, advance and regression, and numerous political and social problems.
At a time when the Movement was the outcome of the unified struggle against colonialism, it was also the result of unified liberation movements that confronted direct colonial domination. In response to the unified struggle, objectives, and principles the UN General Assembly, two years after the founding of the Organization, passed a resolution on granting independences to a number of African countries. Thus a new post independence stage was augured.
The solidarity record of our Organization abounds with extending effective international financial assistance in support of peoples struggling for their freedom and independence. The Organization granted aid to the Algerian revolution, stood in support of Palestinian rights, and backed Arab peoples in their quest for independence after the 1967 aggression. It also supported militant liberation movements struggling for independence, the ANC to terminate minority role, SWAPO for Namibian independence, as well as liberation movements in Portuguese colonies until they gained independence, the MPLA in Angola, FRELIMO in Mozambique, the liberation movement in Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde Islands and other countries.
Moreover, AAPSO strongly and firmly supported the people of Vietnam against American aggression until their country was united. The same applied to many peoples in Asia who struggled against the policy of colonial hegemony. AAPSO strove firmly for the declaration of UN and NAM principles, for ending military alliances and non-interference in the internal affairs of countries. It endorsed peaceful coexistence between countries with different systems. AAPSO strode side by side with NAM in their quest to entrain these principles consecrated by the historic Bandung Conference.
It is possible to say that the 60's were a period when African States gained their political independence. However it was in the next stage that the old form of colonialism developed its ways and means by withdrawing its military hegemony and returning through economic domination. This was defined as neo-colonialism by the First African Conference of Heads of State held in Cairo. Unfortunately, the leaders of our Movement had analyzed this phenomenon theoretically but failed to set up sufficient bases to avert its effects. It was at the beginning of the 60's when colonized countries gained their independence, that differences broke out in our ranks. Briefly, this was caused by the different stages of development in these countries after their independence, and from the disparity in their course. Some consented to continue their economic relations with the large financial institutions in the West. Others adopted a course linked to Western international markets, and yet others endeavored to build independent economic development assisted by the socialist countries. However, the final results were the fact that economic development was more than a disaster to those countries. For financial institutions, by means of neo-colonialism, returned to dominate them and render them as dependents to the capitalist market.
The course undertaken by Afro-Asian leaders in the 60' sand later was not a radiant one, for imperialist powers, specially the U.S.A., the leader of the Western world, were able to abort this force. We witnessed in the 60's numerous set backs and 'coup d'etats' which adversely affected these countries and undermined their development programmes. These countries went through difficulties that increased poverty, weakened development and wasted resources. Thus many developing countries, particularly in Africa, remain below the poverty line.
We witnessed in the 60's, the revolt against Lumumba and his assassination in the Congo, the coup d'etat against Nkrumah, the overthrow of Sukarno in Indonesia, and the disputes between Asian countries and others. All this affected adversely the course of our Movement. However, it was the conflict between the USSR and China that affected it most and that resulted in the split in our movement that was of anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist in character.
Disputes and conflicts, such as those between India and Pakistan, the China-Indian border disputes, conflicts among African states, ethnic conflicts, the failure of the OAU, Arab League or other regional organizations to settle these disputes; in fact the failure of NAM itself to resolve its problems, all had a negative impact on our Movement. This was clearly reflected in the failure to hold the Second Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria in 1965. Moreover, our Movement was also undermined by disputes such as the situation in Afghanistan, as well as these in the African continent, such as outbreak of civil wars in Angola and Mozambique, the war between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, the situation in the Horn of Africa, the rule of racial minority that governed South Africa. These and other problems tugged and pulled the continent.
The NAM fell short in terms of resolving many of these problems such as the Iran-Iraq war, the Second Gulf War, the situation in Afghanistan and Cambodia, the conflict between ASEAN countries and Indo-China.. etc. Furthermore, AAPSO felt the gravity of these events, in its Seventh Conference convened in Delhi in November 1988 when great changes were taking place. First, there was the Perestroika and G1assmost movement that had emerged three years earlier. Many significant reforms were taking place in socialist thinking as well as developments in the Socialist camp which was considered as the principal force standing in the face of Western alliance. There were suspicions surrounding the future of these changes. Simultaneously, there was the need for undertaking reforms in the Organization's priorities and its organizational structure in order to keep pace with these changes. Two international preparatory meetings were convened in 1988 before the Delhi Conference: the first was in Cairo and the second in Nicosia, to discuss the new changes in the international arena and the South countries in particular. These meetings brought about a certain initial change in the Organization's activity and in effectuating conciliation as expressed in Delhi. Our Movement developed within the limits decided by the Congress.
The Delhi Congress was followed by the end of Cold War and the disintegration of the Socialist camp. The world was transformed from a bipolar to a uni-po1ar system. In fact it was a vague polarity. All giant industrial institutions dominated the development process, and globalization emerged as a universal framework for determining the world situation in terms of economy, information and politics. Furthermore, confrontation was transformed from East-West to North-South and drove the South towards further marginalization, thus intensifying their suffering caused by their deteriorating economic and social conditions. Hence many concepts that had been advocated in our Organization since the 70s changed, especially for a just international economic order that would provide developing countries with their rightful and legitimate rights. Even the United Nations, under different pressures convened a special session on the new international economic order.
Successive NAM Summit Conferences reaffirmed this concept. The Group of 77, the Arusha Charter and others endorsed the principle of collective self reliance in development. However these economic blocks including UNCTAD and UNIDO who were basically established in the 60' s to assist developing countries, all reached a dead end. The creation of the International Trade Organization was the product of the Uruguay Round of the GATT to herald the end of an era where developing countries decided their economic policies. Moreover, it produced more obstacles and problems for developing countries, whereby most of them lost their economic independence by entering the globalization era without general rules to find themselves before one of the greatest challenges facing the Movement today.
When the Seventh AAPSO Congress concluded in New Delhi 1988, a number of grave developments, whose signs were augured before the Congress and during its preparatory stage, occurred in the international arena.
As we have indicated, three years had elapsed since Perestroika - or restructuring - and Glasnost. There were great doubts circulating in our Movement about the future of these concepts. Yet despite the failure of Perestroika and before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Socialist system, developing countries at both the government and popular levels were not optimistic about the situation in the USSR, for Perestroika basically aimed at attaining significant concessions with respect to the East/West conflict. These concessions were related to the military and nuclear security fields and would evidently lead to results at the expense of the Third world because the post World War II was a period of conflict between two camps. Even during the Cold War period priority was given to military - security supremacy in both camps. The two super powers regarded the world as their field of conflicts and for zones of influence. Hence, the majority of non-aligned countries were exposed to interference by the great powers before the collapse of the Soviet Union particularly as NAM and its countries were paralyzed and incapable of finding any solutions to their problems except by resorting to the two super powers.
AAPSO was equally if not more affected by the effects of the Cold War. Interference by countries exercising hegemony had its adverse impact on the development and unity of Third World peoples. These issues were related to the core of international conflict in a bipolar world, and the conflict between East and West with its military, nuclear, cultural, security and economic mechanisms.
When Perestroika failed and the Soviet Union and socialist countries collapsed, undoubtedly the world situation became somewhat chaotic. Its results were disastrous and changed numerous characteristics. It was necessary to be cautious, to examine and review the position of our Movement as well as that in developing countries in a world where the bipolar system was terminated. There was need to examine the future of our Movement in a world where conflict changed its course from East-West to North-South. We found ourselves before unlimited challenges.
At a time when South countries in the 80s suffered from the division of the world into two camps; from grave economic problems such as debts, poverty, backwardness, desertification and famine; most African states were listed as the most poverty stricken countries. Most of the aid extended by the U.N. and international institutions were channeled to such countries particularly in Africa. They became incapable of implementing any development activity. Consequently more challenges arose such as the question on the future of developing countries; the future of NAM, and of international organizations that support the south or those following a democratic course. Other questions were raised leaving behind open and sharp discussions at the level of developing countries, regional groupings, powerful industrial countries even international organizations such as the United Nations.
Now, after seven years have passed since the end of the Cold War, debates continue on the nature of the new international order. Is it a uni-polar system? Is it a multi-polar system? What is the future of this system? what has it achieved? Has it realized world peace? Has it realized sustainable development for developing countries? Has it realized universal harmony when ideological conflicts were weakened?
And many other questions whose answers are negative.
Undoubtedly the hegemony of the United States at the international level, as well as over regional groupings has increased Moreover, its domination has extended to all parts of the world particularly in the military and economic fields, even over the U.N. itself. The U.S. has exercised a policy of dictating conditions, concepts and principles with respect to volatile issues in the world. Hence American supremacy has prevailed in the implementation of the concepts of international law and in creating methods of understanding and collective action. It was in this framework that the problems of the South countries multiplied and the countries were marginalized. Their problems became more acute and their solution more complex.
The emergence of the new international order was accompanied by the scientific and technological revolution; by the communications revolution and the global village; by mutual linkages and inter-dependence among countries within a comprehensive globalization framework in terms of the economy, politics, culture and information transcending all borders, as well as national and regional groupings. In fact, the economic basis of globalization is the growing role of transnational corporations. These giant companies have spread outside their national markets owing to two major factors. Firstly, to abandon war as a means to settling conflicts of interest between companies affiliated to different countries. This was inevitable after the production of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear bombs in particular which made destruction of both winners and losers. It was important to avert war because the history of capitalism was linked to wars, for war played an important role in economics and in the growth of capitalism. Secondly, national liberation movements that eradicated the status of colonial empires that prevailed until the end of World War II, a matter that convinced capitalism of its capability to break into the market without depending on the protection of armies and at minimum cost.
Facts manifested that independent states rushed to request assistance and investment even from the same countries they had struggled against during the years of independence. Due to such phenomena and to the hegemony of multi-national corporations over more than 80% of the world's economic production, developing countries have become more marginalized. In this age of globalization, it is up to us to improve the conditions of South countries so that they may have a more just position as partners in world economy. This can only occur by planned cooperation between South countries in order to strengthen South-South relations and by depending on regional groupings governed by economic regulations capable of imposing their effective participation in world economy.
We have witnessed ASEAN as a model; the economic progress of India; the evident economic progress of Chinese economy and the European Union. All these factors have produced more than one dominating pole in world economy.
Not withstanding that the U.S. is still the most productive and richest country, its economic problems as part of the world's problems are reflected in its indebtedness, nearly trillion dollars, as well as the disparity in its balance of payments with Asia which reached 160 billion dollars.
In fact, we cannot provide ready-made solutions for the problems and financial crises in the world. We can only indicate the power of capital and its global influence, its movement transcending national borders and restrictions, its domination of all international economic transactions and consequential path into numerous economic channels in countries of the world.
The South countries in general confront these challenges under circumstances that are not in their interest. For most of the development programmes are subject to the conditions of the Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, the GATT (W.T.O.) agreements and other international economic institutions dominated by the USA.
These challenges are not only the responsibility of the South but it is incumbent upon popular movements, public opinion and NGO's to assume their role in defining policies and spreading awareness with respect to enhancing the masses endeavors and their efforts to bring pressure to bear on their governments to adopt appropriate policies. The brunt of such economic crisis has not only affected developing countries but has touched major industrial countries as well. There, they have the highest unemployment rates, lack of stability in monetary institutions and continuous inflation in their economies. Economic tremors have been repeated in the relations of these countries. The collapse of the monetary system in South-East Asia had its repercussions on the economies of ASEAN countries, countries who were considered to have exemplary growth rates. Lessons drawn from this setback should be evaluated pragmatically in order to benefit from them for the future of development plans.
Developments were accompanied by fierce clashes in the relations between nationalities and ethnic groups. These conflicts threatened the identity of nation states themselves and were not isolated from the intervention of foreign powers as in the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet republics. Many discussion were also carried out during this period about the importance of the reform, and the democratization of the United Nations and Security Council being an international organization which is mandated to maintain peace and security for the peoples of the world. However, this institution has been totally dominated by the U.S. and lost its credibility with respect to some of its resolutions, in particular Security Council resolutions. We have also noted that the United States' intention is to settle international disputes outside the framework of the United Nations as clearly manifested in the peace process for the Arab- Israeli conflict.
It is incumbent upon AAPSO to urge all the forces around it to champion the suffering peoples of the South and consolidate the unity of movements, organizations and groups in these countries so that they are enabled to defend their vital and fundamental interests. Moreover, in this globalization era, we must foster our relations more intensively with public opinion organizations in Europe, Latin America and North America in order to create an international popular grouping for defending the interests of the peoples in the South, in which AAPSO can playa central role. These are major tasks to be undertaken by the Organization in the future in terms of defending the interests, identity and solidarity of the South in facing the challenges of globalization, the information and communications revolution. Moreover, our Organization should support and consolidate the Afro-Asian Writers Union as a basic force for emphasizing Afro-Asian identity within the framework of new international challenges.
Within the context of environmental deterioration and its hazards, movements for protecting the environment have grown in many parts of the world especially in our developing countries that have become dumping grounds for nuclear waste deposited by industrially developed countries. Therefore, our Organization should define a policy to protect the environment in cooperation and coordination with international environmental organizations and within the activities of the United Nations, particularly with respect to the implementation of the Rio Conference Resolutions.
Our Organization should maintain and reinforce its relations with the United Nations, participate in its activities and implement its programmes aimed at supporting our peoples rights. At this point, there is a need to commend AAPSO's active contribution to U.N. Conferences on Human Rights, population, women, settlements and others in which it has played a significant role with international and regional NGO's and added to the success of these conferences.
Our Organization gives special attention to the defense of human rights particularly that human rights violations' record have unfortunately increased to the extent that the United Nations has appointed a Human Rights Commissioner to monitor these violations and deter countries, individuals and groups from their perpetration. With respect to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next December, it is necessary that all regional, national and international NGO's, our Organization in particular, launch in cooperation with the United Nations, awareness campaigns and activities to celebrate this occasion. For after half a century since this Declaration, these rights are still being violated particularly in the South.
It is our responsibility to consolidate NAM and strengthen it at the popular level and disseminate its decisions particularly in international fora. We hope that its forthcoming Summit Conference in South Africa will be a major event that will strengthen the Movement.
Under such circumstances in the world, our Organization requires an organizational structure capable of keeping abreast with the forthcoming stage. This mechanism should be simple and flexible and capable of embracing different forces within our Movement. It should avoid being similar to the old framework that had prevailed during a different historic period... we will examine this matter.
As our Organization celebrates its 40th anniversary we are of the view that our tasks and priorities have become more difficult and more complex. We deem that promoting movements, institutions and organizations in the South countries by means of a planned, balanced and clear cut policy should be at the forefront of its activities and should revolve around a plane:
- To draw up effective economic and social policies.
- To widen the scope of NAM and consecrate its policy within our Movement.
- To strengthen the role of NGO' s at the international level so that it may act as an alternative popular and effective diplomacy in terms of finding solutions and formulas to problems confronting our Movement; and to commit countries and governments to abide by them.
- That AAPSO should playa more active role with respect to the environment due to the latter's deterioration and spreading of environmental movements.
- To continue developing our activities in support of women's liberation movement and to defend their rights specially in Afro-Asian communities; as well as the challenges facing our peoples and countries in a world governed by globalization.
In conclusion, and as a testament to the historic facts and the struggles waged by our Organization during the past four decades of its history, it is incumbent upon us to praise the Egyptian role that has enabled our Organization to continue and fulfill its programmes. Egypt, since the inception of our Organization, has always extended assistance and support, and respected the independence of AAPSO. After the end of the Cold War, such a role was crucial to the existence of our Organization. So on behalf of our Movement and all of us, I take pleasure in expressing our profound gratitude to Egypt, its President, government and people.

* Secretary-General of the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization (AAPSO).