Bandung And The Political Economy of North-South Relations: Sowing The Seeds For Revisioning International Society
Nesadurai, Helen E. S.
Date of Issue2005
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
This paper revisits the 1955 Bandung Conference in an effort to identify and evaluate the legacy of Bandung for the international political economy. James Mayall interpreted the Bandung movement as a revisionist alliance that sought to restructure international society, most notably through the principle of non-alignment. This paper argues that the 1955 Bandung Conference sowed the seeds for revisioning international society in two further ways. Bandung’s call for equitable representation in international decision-making for newly independent states was essentially a call to take seriously international justice principles, particularly that of procedural justice, in the management of world affairs. Bandung participants also articulated an alternative set of principles for inter-state engagement that emphasised dialogue and accommodation, collective problem-solving and the search for consensus or compromise, principles that were regarded as more suited to the increasingly plural international society of states following decolonisation, and a necessary alternative to the power politics and coercion that had been the basis of colonialism and that threatened to dominate international relations in a world of superpower bloc politics. Fifty years on, these principles remain salient. Procedural justice remains curtailed for developing states, particularly in the key institutions of global economic governance, while the emergence of a range of justice claims articulated by a wider cast of actors beyond states has not led to the emergence of a genuine ‘world society’ based on a consensus of values. By drawing on insights from the English School of International Relations and Jurgen Habermas’s theory of communicative action, the paper suggests that Bandung’s endorsement of dialogue over coercion and confrontation may be the best option to reach a reasoned consensus on values, agendas and in problem-solving. Although existing power disparities will continue to intrude, dialogue processes merit greater attention as a necessary (though not sufficient) step in negotiations. In the end, Bandung’s lasting legacy for a plural world, yet one that is fast integrating, could well be its endorsement of deliberative politics.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science
RSIS Working Papers, 095-05
Nanyang Technological University