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Non-interference or the responsibility to protect?

Asia-Pacific

Non-interference or the responsibility to protect?

Sholto Byrnes

On Friday, representatives of 85 political parties from 36 countries will gather in Kuala Lumpur for the ninth General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties. Quite apart from curiosity about a gathering with which I had not hitherto been familiar, one thought struck me: what could possibly unite such an inevitably diverse collection of people?

A brief look through the organisation’s charter turned up a reference to a principle both familiar yet redolent of another era, of the glory days of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam), and conjuring pictures of their leaders, towering post-war figures such as India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indonesian president Sukarno, Egypt’s Col Nasser, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, and Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito.

The principle, outlined in the charter’s second paragraph? “Mutual non-interference in each others’ internal affairs.” That concept, frequently accompanied by two others also in the charter – “mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty” and “mutual non-aggression”, does on the face of it seem to hark to another era.

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