NAM summit discusses COVID-19 response

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the online summit of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group on May 4 to discuss response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

May 4, 2020

The NAM, the second-largest grouping of countries after the United Nations, brings together 120 developing countries that have recorded rapid economic growth in the last few years

Bringing the NAM nations together is of particular significance amid the pandemic in which the developing countries are expected to face the worst social, economic implications

In the summit, PM Modi was joined by over 30 other Heads of State and Government and other leaders, from member states in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean

India has been at the centre of international efforts to contain the spread of the disease through supply of essential medicines to around 123 countries, including 59 NAM states

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the online summit of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group on May 4 to discuss response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The summit, themed around “United against COVID-19,” was hosted by the Chairman of NAM, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The objective of the summit was to promote international solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to mobilise efforts of countries and international organisations to address the pandemic. The event also commemorated the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace. The NAM, the second-largest grouping of countries after the United Nations, brings together 120 developing countries that have recorded rapid economic growth in the last few years. 

PM Modi’s participation in the summit underlined India’s longstanding commitment to the principles of NAM as one of its leading founding-member. In his intervention, the Prime Minister emphasized upon the importance of an inclusive response by the world to COVID-19 pandemic, outlining the steps India had taken domestically and internationally while reaffirming readiness to offer assistance in solidarity with the Movement. PM Modi also emphasized upon the importance of a continued effort by the world against other ongoing threats, in particular terrorism and fake news. The NAM bloc is key to enforcing several developmental projects around the world, pertaining to healthcare, nutrition, education, energy, employment, etc. Herein, India has been a force of good in driving development in these countries. 

Empowering developing countries

Bringing the NAM nations together is of particular significance amid the Coronavirus pandemic in which the developing countries are expected to face the worst social and economic implications. In the online summit, PM Modi was joined by more than 30 other Heads of State and Government and other leaders, from member States in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The summit was also addressed by the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Tijjani Muhammed Bande; UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres; African Union Chairperson, Musa Faki Mahamat; EU High Representative, Josep Borrell; as well as the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. The meeting sought to address some of the leading immediate concerns coming out of the pandemic.

India has been at the centre of international efforts to contain the spread of the disease through supply of essential medicines to around 123 countries

Overall, NAM Leaders assessed the impact of COVID-19, identified needs and requirements for possible remedies and urged action-oriented follow-up measures. Following the summit, the leaders adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. Leaders also announced the creation of a ‘Task Force’ to identify the requirements of member states through the establishment of a common database reflecting their basic medical, social and humanitarian needs in the united against COVID-19. India has been at the centre of international efforts to contain the spread of the disease through supply of essential medicines to around 123 countries. Indian researchers are also working on vaccines, plasma therapy, drug therapeutics, medical devices, among others, for COVID-19.

The initiatives come in line with PM Modi’s outreach to global leaders, extending all possible help in the fight against the pandemic. The Indian Government has reiterated the need for a unified movement against the health, societal, and economic challenges of COVID-19. The health epidemic has claimed more than 250,000 lives between the beginning of December 2019 and the first week of May 2020 while over 3.8 million people have so far contracted the disease in over 180 countries. With a cure believed to be at least a year away, countries around the world have enforced vast lockdowns as a measure to arrest the spread of the disease. The lockdowns have brought the movement of humans and goods to a virtual halt, which is expected to cost the global economy much more than US$2 trillion in 2020. 

India’s global outreach in pandemic

As part of the nation’s outreach to global partners, PM Modi held bilateral meetings with leaders from across the world. The meetings sought to strengthen India’s ties with partner nations across the scope of scientific collaborations, trade of critical commodities, exchange of key information and resources, as well as to ascertain the health and safety of Indians around the world. In line with this, early on into the COVID-19 crisis, India proposed a COVID-19 Emergency Fund for the member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) bloc. Announced during a meeting with SAARC leaders in March, India committed US$10 million to the fund, along with access to diverse healthcare resources. Such efforts have given a face to India’s commitment to the global fight against the pandemic. 

To strengthen India’s commitment to developing countries, PM Modi had also suggested the creation of a common platform for research on controlling epidemic diseases in the South Asian region. Given the population density and economic potential of the region, such initiatives can prove very strategic to protect critical interests. PM Modi reiterated that such collaborations will serve as a model for the world. India had also suggested discussions on the long-term economic consequences of COVID-19, and how to best preserve internal trade and local value chains from its impact. Such collaboration can prove to be very helpful at a time when Coronavirus is expected to cut global foreign direct investment by 5-15 per cent, having already cut worldwide manufacturing exports by US$50 billion in just February 2020.