In a bizarre reminder of the past, the heads of state from 104 nations will try to define a new role for the once-significant Non-Aligned Movement at the organization's 10th summit this week in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Although the member states are in broad agreement on a variety of issues, their most disturbing declaration is that Western powers should stop trying to link economic aid with respect for human rights.This is a tenet the rest of a more enlightened world cannot afford to take seriously. It's not the first time the movement has found itself on the wrong side of history.
Originally organized in 1961 by five leaders of developing countries - Indonesia's Sukarno, Yugolsavia's Tito, Egypt's Nasser, India's Nehru and Cuba's Castro, it was reminiscent of a non-sequiter even then.
In spite of the assertion that they were non-aligned, at least three of the five had close links to Moscow, and the Cold War allowed the movement to grow and flourish. In those heady years, "non-aligned" often seemed like a synonym for anti-American.
But the collapse of communism in Europe and the emergence of the United States as the only remaining super-power seemed to blow holes in the Non-Aligned Movement's reason for being - ostensibly to oppose imperialism and foster independence, to oppose war and foster peace.
Some analysts say the movement could shift its emphasis from politics to economics - and become a counterpart to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is dominated by wealthy nations.
Even that does not seem likely. Internal political controversy is being generated by the switch in the organization's chairmanship from Yugoslavia to Indonesia. The 46 states belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference do not favor Belgrade as the legitimate successor of Yugoslavia in the U.N. and the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Non-Aligned Movement increasingly appears to be a non-movement with little relevance to the current status of the world - a fate the 104 members largely brought upon themselves because of their biased choices during the Cold War.