Introduction and Purpose:
The Bandung Conference, also known as Asian-Africa Conference was a meeting of third world countries which took place on April 18-24, 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. The five countries viz, Pakistan, Indian, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia were the co-sponsored of the Conference. They also brought together other twenty four states from Asia, Africa, and Middle East. So the representatives from 29 countries including Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iraq, and China, met to consider the issues they deemed more pressing. The main purpose for which the conference held was to discuss peace, the role of third world countries in Cold War, the promotion of Afro-Asian countries economic and cultural cooperation, and decolonization.
History witnessed that the greater part of Asia and Africa was being under foreign domination; therefore, the countries in the area did not have control over their internal affairs. In the course of time, when the decolonization got great momentum in the continents of Asia and Africa, consequently, smooth ground was prepared for international conference to take roots. It is pertinent to say that the Bandung Conference was the first major and systemic attempt to mobilize Asian and African opinion for the pursuit and furtherance of certain well defined objectives. During the Conference, the attendees hoped to focus on the potential for collaboration among the nations of the third world as well as to promote the efforts to reduce their reliance on Europe and North America. Consequently, at the close of Bandung Conference the participants signed a communiqué that include a range of concrete objectives. These goals included the promotion of economic and cultural cooperation, protection of human rights and the principal of self determination, a call for an end to racial discrimination and reiteration of the importance of peaceful co-existence.
Main Events of the Conference:
At the Conference, the attendees shed flood of lights on various issues among that the colonial question was undoubtedly the most important, on which the conference was expected to pronounce unanimous verdict. As most of these Afro-Asian Countries had attained recently their independence from colonial rule, more importantly, the decolonialization process was still going, and the delegates started to speak for other colonized people particularly in Africa who had not got yet established independent governments. The delegates, thus, presented various speeches and resolutions which whole-heartedly condemned colonization as well as imperialism, and called for the freedom of all subjugated peoples. Keeping in view the aforementioned points, the denunciation of colonization in any form was incumbent on these newly independent states in order to sustain their survival because their immediate concern was naturally the security of their states against external threats and danger to their territorial integrity and independence.
Talk about the Cold War:
Another core issue of that time was Cold War, for that reason, the mainstream leaders of these countries joined together to avoid being forced to take sides in the Cold War contest. These nations preferred to remain neutral during Cold War, believing that their interests would not be served by allying with either the United States or the Soviet Union. They were convinced that the war had little meaning to nations battling for economic development, improved health and better crops yields and fighting against the forces of colonialism and racism. It is true that the colonial power had greatly exploited the natural resources of Asian and Africans’ countries, thus, it was essential to discourage and restrain the menace of colonialism in any form throughout the world.
Focus on Economic Prosperity:
Besides decolonization, the Conference communiqué also laid much stress on the value of economic cooperation among participating countries, while acknowledging the assistance that many of them have received from outside, particularly from the United States of America. The West by its withdrawal has left behind in Asia a vast economic and political vacuum which the newly independent countries should fill it by their own leadership and individual efforts, if a new imperialism is not to plant itself on the grave of the old.
The Bandung conference in its final resolution laid the foundation for the Non Aligned Movement [NAM]. After six years of Bandung Conference, an initiative by Yugoslav president Josip Braz Tito led the first Conference of the heads of Non-Aligned countries, which was held in September 1961 in Belgrade. The core principles of NAM is as same as it was placed by the third world countries at the Bandung Conference like the assurance of the national independence, sovereignty , territorial integrity , and security of non aligned countries in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism , neo colonialism, racism, and all form of foreign aggression, occupation, domination and interference. Hence, the Bandung Conference of 1955 was a significant milestone in the development of NAM in 1961.
America and Russia were excluded from the Conference with the view that it might turn the Conference into ideological conflicts. The United States’ government was generally appalled by the Bandung Conference but the Conference did not lead to a general denunciation of the West as US observers had feared. China was wholly concerned with the fears that the West has engendered about China’s future intention in the East. Whereas, India’s principal objective, during the Conference, was to secure a verdict in favor of its own expedient and profitable neutrality as between the East and the West, of which New Delhi has been almost the sole beneficiary. However the conference lost much of the prestige and stature by avoiding the discussion on the disputes in which the Bandung states has been directly involved and with which the West was not even remotely concerned.
Bandung Conference a Success:
To recapitulate, the Bandung Conference is one of the landmark events in the annals of Afro-Asian countries history. For the first time the leadership of third world countries joined together to pass unanimous verdict against the western imperial powers in order to hold back their ill designs in the continents like Asia and Africa which are enriched with substantial natural resources. It was obviously a positive move on the part of these underdeveloped countries that rather heavily relying upon the Westerners, they should have been promoted their own economic and cultural cooperation among each other and wholeheartedly joined hands against the forceful participation in the ongoing Cold war. While, to some extent, these nations succeeded in averting the furtherance of colonization process in Afro-Asian countries and eventually the same Conference laid the basis of Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, which holds the same core principles as it was manifested during the Bandung Conference. Thus the third world countries are needed to pulls their socks in order to compete with the western imperialism.