Leaders from about 120 countries across the world have converged in the Ugandan capital Kampala for the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that kicked off on Monday.
About 4,000 guests from different member states are expected to attend the weeklong summit that seeks to address pressing global issues and foster cooperation among member states.
The delegates will form two committees – political, and the economic and social – whose negotiations will shape the Kampala Outcome Document that will be adopted by the Foreign Affairs ministers and declared at the Heads of State summit on Saturday.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odong said the world needs multilateralism and solidarity to face its numerous challenges.
“Today, we are faced with several challenges, including armed conflicts in different parts of the world, food insecurity, migration, unemployment, health pandemics, climate change, and terrorism among the myriad of challenges. We also recognise challenges in financing for development and the issue of debt burden that paints a depressing global economic outlook. It is, therefore, crucial for us to address existing, new, and emerging issues collectively and in the interest of our membership, for the good of mankind,” he said.
NAM is the second-largest group of countries after the United Nations, founded in 1961 at the height of the Cold War between the West and East. But, unlike other regional and international organisations, it neither has a formal founding Charter, Act, or Treaty, nor a permanent secretariat. The country holding the rotational chairmanship is responsible for coordinating and managing the affairs of the Movement.
Uganda is taking over as chair from Azerbaijan, to run until 2027.
NAM membership consists of 120 countries — 53 from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and two from Europe. It also includes the non-UN member state of Palestine, 17 other observer countries and 10 observer organisations.
The summit is one of the biggest global meetings Uganda is hosting after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007.
Ahead of the summit, security was beefed up at airports, meeting venues and hotels in Kampala.
Uganda Information minister Chris Baryomunsi said he expects hospitality, transport and logistics sectors to cash in on the event, with earnings trickling down to suppliers.