Celebration of the 70th anniversary of the “Five Principles of Nonviolent Coexistence

Seven decades ago, the “Five Principles of Nonviolent Coexistence” were coined. Zhou Enlai, then Premier of the young People’s Republic of China, first proposed them at the Bangdu Conference, where the Non-Aligned Movement was born.

Since then, these principles have guided the actions of peoples seeking to shake off the vestiges of colonialism. The postulates of peaceful coexistence are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; mutual equality and mutual benefit; and non-violent coexistence.

At today’s ceremony, President Xi Jinping concluded his speech by saying: “Let us take the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Principles of Nonviolent Coexistence as a starting point to take up the historic mission of promoting the building of a community of shared future for mankind and creating a more beautiful future for human society, and push forward with determination and united efforts.”

The forum, “From the Five Principles of Nonviolent Coexistence to Building the Community of Shared Future for Humanity,” then opened with presentations by former world leaders and international scholars. The following are excerpts from the speeches at the Global Governance Sub-Forum:

-Ivo Josipovic, former President of Croatia:

“…I think the Five Principles are probably more important today than they were, say, 30 years ago. Not only because of the climate crisis, the health crisis, the food crisis and the energy crisis, but also because we have a serious peace crisis. Anyone who knows history can easily compare the situation today with the situation before the Second World War, and I think there is nobody here in this room and nobody in the whole world who is willing to have a Third World War….”

-Massimo D’Alema, former Prime Minister of Italy:

“…After the end of the Cold War, we faced numerous violations of the Five Principles. The US invasion of Iraq was a violation. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation. The annexation of Jerusalem and the West Bank is a violation. The real problem is that the international institutions are weak, unable to prevent the violation, and that is why I think our meeting is very important. We need to build an international coalition of states, including political parties, public opinion, NGOs… to reaffirm the violated principles of non-violent coexistence…”.

-Martin Cyri, British academic:

“…The alliance of nation states and all kinds of groups across borders is needed to meet the challenges of our human existence. We will be equal to the task by the way we relate to each other, not by the rules imposed on us by a small group of nations….”

-Rommel C. Banlaoi, President, Philippine Society for International Studies:

“…It has taken us decades to understand what is common progress and what is common development for humanity. The pandemic incident has shown us that we don’t really live on islands. We live in a world of complex interdependence that cannot be divided; we have to learn how to share our knowledge for our common survival…”.

In the current context of urgent responses to global challenges, the proposal to build a “community of shared future for all humanity” emerges as an aphorism that can guide us. We find ourselves in a challenging situation where the inability of supranational institutions to stop genocide, address the climate crisis and steer technological development for the sovereignty of communities has become apparent. This is why the articulation of a global federation of autonomous territories with executive capacity is a necessity today.