Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Spirit of Bandung: A Summary of the Bandung Declaration of 1955

Representatives and leaders from 29 countries convened in the Merdeka Building in Bandung, Indonesia upon the invitation of the Colombo Powers to unite newly independent countries to form a third block of neutral countries in conflict between 2 superpowers. At the end of the conference, they released the Bandung final communiqu̩ Рthe conclusion of the 6-day event.


In 1954, after a conference in Colombo between the Prime Ministers of 5 countries (Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), they concluded by declaring the need for an Asian-African Conference for a united foreign policy stand of newly independent countries or the so-called third world.

After another conference in Bogor in December 1954, they finally gave further substance to the event by sending out the invitations for the attendees to the summit. In end, 29 countries sent delegates representing half of the world’s population and mixed with diverse culture and political viewpoints. Conflict between anti-communist and neutralist prevailed. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammed Ali and India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also traded arguments over the right for collective defense. In the end, the conference ended with a final communique that stood as a compromise between different parties.

Summary of the Communique

The final communique relayed a hopes for economic and cultural cooperation, as well as stand towards human rights, rights for self-determination and world peace.

Economic Cooperation

For economic cooperation, it focused in setting up finance, controls, and expertise necessary to promote the economic development of third world countries. The Conference did not condemned foreign investments, which many nationalist abhorred. It also set up the exchange of technical experts between different countries.

The Conference also recommended the establishment of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development and for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (later known as the World Bank) to expand its assistance to Asian-African countries. They also endorsed the establishment of the International Finance Corporation as well as joint ventures between businessmen of Asia and Africa. They also recommended the creation of national and regional financial institutions to finance economic projects in Asia and Africa.

With most of the attendees relying on raw material exports, they called for a stable commodities market. They called for a united stand of Asian and African countries in issues in the United Nations Permanent Advisory Commission on International Commodity Trade as well as other bodies related to trade. Though it suggested a united stand, the Conference shied away from creating a regional bloc.

The Conference also recognized the need to diversify economies and move from developing the extraction of raw materials to processing it and turning them into manufacturing goods. To help the promotion of manufacturing industries in Asia and Africa, they recommended the organization of intra-regional trade fairs.

In terms of energy, the Asian-African Conference understood the potential of nuclear power to light millions of houses and power factories and industrial complexes. It promoted the establishment of International Atomic Energy Agency in hope of spreading nuclear technology meant for peaceful use.

In trade, they recognized the necessity for multilateral as well as bilateral trade agreements. They also promoted the development of railway freight as an additional option besides expensive ship freight.

Cultural Cooperation

In this part, the Conference condemned the last vestiges of colonialism prevailing in Asia and Africa. But it also looked towards the future in promoting understanding and knowledge of the diverse culture of the 2 continents.

The Asian-Africa Conference abhorred colonialism in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, 3 countries struggling to break free from European yolk. They attacked the “cultural suppression” by colonial powers in form of suppressing the study of their colonies’ own language and local culture. They wished to an end of colonialism.

Besides the continuous fight against colonialism, they wanted to fight ignorance and racial barriers by expanding knowledge of the cultures of Asian and African countries. The wanted to set student exchange programs and exchange of academics and intellectuals. Mutual cultural exchanges also placed high in importance for the Conference.

Human Rights and Self-Determination

Besides the condemnation of cultural suppression that came along with colonialism, the Conference also voiced further opposition to the colonialism through this section of the communique. They supported as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and condemned any practices that promoted racial segregation or discrimination.

The Conference promoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United Nations endorsed. With this declaration, the Conference wanted countries to abide its clauses. And so doing, they criticized “policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination” being enacted in Africa, such as the Apartheid in South Africa as well as discrimination in the same country towards Indians and Pakistanis.

They continuously attacked colonialism stating, “Colonialism in all its manifestation is an evil which should speedily be brought to an end.” So it supported Indonesia in its case against the Netherlands regarding West Irian and Yemen with Aden.

The Asian-Africa Conference also touched on the issue of the Palestinians and called for the implementation of the United Nations Resolutions regarding Palestine.

Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation

The Asia-Africa Conference also endorsed the strengthening of cooperation between countries to attain world peace. It started by endorsing the expansion of UN membership reduction of conflicts and tensions.

The Bandung Conference called for the admission of attendee countries to the United Nations. These countries included Cambodia, Ceylon, Japan, Jordan, Libya, Nepal, and North and South Vietnam. They also promoted the ascension of Asian and African countries to the Security Council.

As usual, the Conference also called for nuclear disarmament.

Declaration on the Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation

The Declaration on the Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation became the highlight of the communique for its 10 principles of Bandung or the Dasa Sila Bandung. It included:

1. Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN.

2. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

3. Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small.

4. Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.

5. Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the UN.

6. Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interest of any of the big powers. Abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries.

7. Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.

8. Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.

9. Promotion of Mutual interests and cooperation.

10. Respect for justice and international obligations.

The 10 principles combined Jawaharlal Nehru’s 5 Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence and the wants of some pro-western countries for a collective defense.

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