Panchsheel

For other uses, see Pañcasīla.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in India as the Panchsheel Treaty (from Sanskrit, panch:five, sheel:virtues), are a set of principles to govern relations between states. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954. They were enunciated in the preamble to the "Agreement (with exchange of notes) on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India", which was signed at Peking on 29 April 1954.[1] This agreement stated the five principles as:

  1. Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty,
  2. Mutual non-aggression,
  3. Mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs,
  4. Equality and mutual benefit, and
  5. Peaceful co-existence.

An underlying assumption of the Five Principles was that newly independent states after decolonization would be able to develop a new and more principled approach to international relations. The principles were emphasized by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in a broadcast speech made at the time of the Asian Prime Ministers Conference at Colombo just a few days after the signing of the Sino-Indian treaty in Beijing. Nehru went so far as to say: "If these principles were recognized in the mutual relations of all countries, then indeed there would hardly be any conflict and certainly no war."[2] The five principles were subsequently incorporated in modified form in a statement of ten principles issued in April 1955 at the historic Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, which did more than any other meeting to form the idea that post-colonial states had something special to offer the world.

It has been suggested that the five principles had partly originated as the five principles of the Indonesian state. In June 1945 Sukarno, the Indonesian nationalist leader, had proclaimed five general principles, or pancasila, on which future institutions were to be founded. Indonesia became independent in 1949.[3]

The Five Principles as they had been adopted in Colombo and elsewhere formed the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement, established in Belgrade in 1961.[4]

The history of the first major enunciation of the Five Principles is not wholly encouraging. China has often emphasized its close association with the Five Principles.[5] It had put them forward, as the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, at the start of negotiations that took place in Delhi from December 1953 to April 1954 between the Delegation of the PRC Government and the Delegation of the Indian Government on the relations between the two countries with respect to the disputed territories of Aksai Chin and South Tibet. The 29 April 1954 agreement mentioned above was set to last for eight years.[6] When it lapsed, relations were already souring, the provision for renewal of the agreement was not taken up, and the Sino-Indian War broke out between the two sides. However, in the 1970s, the Five Principles again came to be seen as important in Sino-Indian relations, and more generally as norms of relations between states. They have become widely recognized and accepted throughout the region.

Criticism

Some writers have been critical of the Five Principles. Commenting on their 1954 enunciation, Peter Lyon, a UK academic specializing in international relations, wrote: "Though neutralists in general, and at that time Mr Nehru in particular, seemed to regard these principles as being a special contribution to world politics, they were not at all original, were repetitious, and really boiled down to the edict that a state's independence should not be infringed."[7]

References

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