Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, at the Talk Program on “Nepal and United Nations: Partners for Peace and Development” organized by United Nations Association of Nepal
Kathmandu, 12 July 2018
Colleagues from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I feel honored to be amongst you this afternoon. I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to this forum.
Discourses on the pertinent themes like that of today are always useful. I found the theme aptly chosen and relevant. I hope the United Nation’s Association of Nepal will continue such discussions in the future as well. Let me directly enter into the topic of today and share my thoughts on this.
The ideals of sovereign equality, peace, justice, and progress espoused by the UN Charter continue to inspire us. Nepal has an abiding faith and commitment to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. Nepal’s constitution recognizes them as the guiding elements of our foreign policy.
It is close to seven decades, even before Nepal became its member, Nepal and the United Nations began partnership for development. It all began at a time when Nepal had just emerged from centuries of isolation and the country needed expertise and technical know-how to steer through the path of openness, development and modernization. Those experts that came to Nepal in early 1950s under the UN technical assistance represent the early incarnation of UN’s partnership in the development of Nepal. That partnership has steadily grown and extended to the present.
After we became member of the United Nations in 1955 our partnership and engagements increased manifold and we have remained a dedicated and active member of the organization. Ever since, this partnership has grown, expanded and developed to include wide range of thematic areas and geographical coverage of Nepal.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nepal’s partnership with the United Nations permeates to all three pillars of the organization, i.e. development, peace and security, and human rights. Let me briefly touch on each of them.
Nepal’s association with the UN and contribution to different UN specialized agencies has been long, constructive and fruitful. Some of the UN specialized agencies that are there in the governance of international public goods and cross-border regulation of communications and air transportation have been partner in their respective fields ever since we became the member of these agencies.
In the development front, we have been partners in increasing the coverage of vaccination, controlling disease, improving maternal and child health, reducing child and maternal mortality, and improving hygiene and sanitation. Our collaboration with the UN continues in expanding literacy, increasing enrollment of children into schools, reducing drop outs, improving girl’s education and increasing women’s participation and empowerment. These efforts have contributed for bringing marked change in the human and social development indicators and achieving the MDGs and SDGs. UN’s cooperation in the eradication of malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis and controlling of pandemics and epidemics has remained significant. UN has been partner in disaster preparedness, mitigation and response, and we have worked together to reduce vulnerabilities, enhance resilience and protect environment.
UN funds and programs like UNDP has been a partner for development and the face of UN in Nepal for decades. We have received UN’s assistance for management of refugee population for years. We have received relief services and food aid in time of disasters and emergencies, and humanitarian assistance to the refugee population. UN has been assisting us in the provision of food for work in remote areas to cope with food shortage and nutrition problem as well as in the building of local level infrastructures. UN agencies support extends to the conservation and preservation of natural and man-made heritage sites. They have been partner for promoting social dialogue and decent job. We have received technical assistance and capacity building for the modernization and improvement of agriculture sector and assistance in fulfilling critical resource gap in that process.
UN has brought new ideas and technical expertise in development process. Its partnership in improving human development indicators and implementation of MDGs was significant in the past. Our partnership with the UN has now transitioned to the focused implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UN has been a key partner in that process to help us achieve the goals as per the national development plans and priorities.
In this spirit, last year Nepal stressed on the need to evolve United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) through a genuine consultative process of the Government stakeholders, and make UNDAF a true outcome of a country-owned and country-led process so that it could help attain its objectives. Nepal’s assertion to make that important document a broad-based and country-owned emanates from our desire to bring a requisite focus to those SDGs that are critically important for Nepal to achieve in the short run so that a solid base could be created for the attainment of the rest.
Building on our relative success of the implementation of the MDGs, it has been our priority to implement and achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs before 2030. We have taken some concrete steps to that direction. We have fully internalized them into our national policies and plans. They are now being implemented in earnest. This entails a massive mobilization of resources, and requires unique technical capacity. Our partnership with the UN in the coming years would be to marshalling of our combined resources and capacity towards achieving those goals. Poverty alleviation remains the overarching goal of the SDGs and through that we can collectively consolidate peace and development cherished by our people for long.
In this regard, we are encouraged by the adoption of the resolution 72/279 by the UNGA in May this year. The resolution carries a fundamental repositioning of UN development system in decades. This is intended for robust implementation of SDGs where the country concerned is at the centre of the entire process. We look forward to the impending repositioning that is aimed at addressing the gaps, building synergy and improving accountability, steering clear from the politicization of development. With the new system in place, we anticipate carrying forward of the implementation of all SDGs with equal emphasis and priority so that a balanced and an evenly process of development could be achieved.
As you all know, the Government has outlined ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ as its overarching development goal. The recently pronounced policies and programs of the Government and the budget statement for the next fiscal year are aimed at attaining of that goal. While we are aware that there is an enormous task ahead, we seek cooperation of our partners, including from the UN system, for an enhanced level of economic partnership.
Maintaining international peace and security is the major objective of the United Nations. Nepal on its part has been contributing to the fulfillment of this objective for decades. True to our commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, we started contributing to the UN mandated peacekeeping operations just three years after Nepal joined this world body. This is the 60th year of Nepal’s participation in the UN peace operations. Ever since, over one hundred and thirty-five thousand Nepali peacekeepers have provided best of their services to over 42 different peace operation missions around the world. In the process, seventy-three Nepali peacekeepers have made ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Nepal currently stands 6th largest troop and police contributing country to the UN peacekeeping.
With its steadfast commitment to global peace, Nepal has remained a dependable and enduring partner in the UN peacekeeping operations often taking responsibilities in some of the most challenging situations. Nepal has never let the request of the UN down even at the shortest of calls. We have shown flexibility for inter-mission relocation of troops, deployed our officials in most difficult and challenging missions in terms of safety and security and have been fulfilling our commitment even during the period of internal conflict at home.
The fame and repute of Nepali peacekeepers as the most competent, dutiful and dependable peacekeepers has been further enhanced by Nepal’s participation in such operations without national caveats. This has allowed the United Nations the much needed ground level operational flexibilities to significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the peace operations and fulfill its mandates.
Nepali peacekeepers’ unique capacity to respect and empower community, earn their confidence and trust, and dedication to the fulfillment of the mandate have rendered them as one of the most sought after UN peacekeepers.
Our long experience in UN peace keeping tells us that the UN Security Council must be guided by the unity of purpose explicitly articulated in the mission’s mandate. Peace operations must be member- states driven process where UN General Assembly should have a better role, than it has today, in deciding the nature and mandate of the operations. Three key pillars of peace keeping operations i.e.- stabilizing the security situation, supporting national political process and ensuring economic revitalization- should always be holistically taken at the centre of the mandate. Our experience says that the ultimate aim of peacekeeping or peace building should be the socio-economic transformation of the conflict-affected countries.
To make such operations successful and capable of delivering on the mandate, we have called for substantive, institutionalized and structured consultation with troops and police contributing countries at all stages of UN peacekeeping. We attach high importance on the protection of civilians especially children and women, and have a policy of zero tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuses.
In line with this policy, last year Nepal joined the UN Secretary General’s compact on Sexual Exploitation and Abuses. We attach high importance on respect for the personal safety and security as well as dignity and honor of the peace keepers. As the demand for more robust engagement at the ground has increased in modern day peace operations, legal protection for the peacekeepers in the event of collateral damage remains equally important.
We consider that timely revision of the incentive structure should be a permanent feature to keep high morale of the officials serving in difficult circumstances. A fair share of representation in the leadership role, both at the UN headquarters and field missions, proportionate to contribution of the countries concerned is critically important.
There have been many happy anecdotes and examples of utmost bravery, dedication, discipline and sense of duty displayed by our peacekeepers even in extremely challenging environment and life threatening situations. They have received accolades for outstanding services and for the protection of people. Our happiest moments have been many, including when, as a recognition of the Nepalese peacekeepers’ contribution to the UNIFIL, a Nepalese soldier was included in the entourage of the then UN Secretary General to receive the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the UN in 2001.
As part of our continuous engagement with the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security, recently we had the pleasure to host Under Secretary General for Peace Keeping Operations, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and last year we had hosted Under Secretary General for Field Support. Both of these visits have provided good opportunities to enhance further cooperation in the areas of peacekeeping.
Nepal had its own share of the internal conflict followed by a home grown and successful peace process. United Nations supported us during the initial phase of our peace process through a focused and limited-mandate political mission for monitoring of the arms and combatants. We appreciate the UN for this support. As the political transition has ended and a new era of political stability has emerged in Nepal, our experience of the peace process may be useful to the countries in transition and those gone through conflict. We would be happy to share those experiences as a uniquely successful and home-grown brand of the peace process and contribute to the peace building elsewhere.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With regard to the third pillar of the United Nations, I reiterate that Nepal’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights is total and unflinching. Despite the relatively smaller size of our economy, level of development and capacity, we have been party to 24 international human rights related instruments, and 7 out of 9 core instruments. True to our commitment, we have regularly submitted our periodic reports to the treaty bodies and faithfully implemented the outcomes after the consideration of the reports. This year alone three of our periodic reports are being considered by different human rights treaty bodies.
Our engagement with the UN human rights mechanism, including the human rights council and its special procedures mechanism as well as the UPR process, has been constructive. This year alone we have invited three special procedure mandate holders for the country visit. This is substantial for a country of our capacity and resources.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, Nepal’s role in the Council has been constructive. We firmly stand by the UNGA resolution 60/251 and the principle that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. We recognize and adhere to the objectivity, non-selectivity and elimination of politicization and double standards in dealing with human rights issues.
At the home front, two amendment Bills related to the transitional justice mechanisms are under the process of submission to the Parliament. With laws in place, and terms of the two Commissions been extended, this will allow the investigation of all allegations of serious violations of human rights and ensure justice and accountability. I reiterate that there will be no blanket amnesty to serious violations of human rights.
The world we live in has increasingly become complex and unpredictable. We share concerns on the seeping crisis in multilateralism. Nepal always stands for multilateralism and considers the United Nations as an indispensable organization. We regard the United Nations as the only legitimate forum to deliberate and resolve the international issues of common concern.
Under the UN initiative, Nepal Chaired and led the process of Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries during the 4th UN Conference for LDCs held in Istanbul. The Conference adopted Istanbul Program of Action (IPOA) for the Decade 2011-2020. The IPOA charts out international community’s vision and strategy for sustainable development of LDCs with a strong focus on developing their productive capacities. In line with the goal of the IPOA, Nepal has been preparing for the next cycle of review for graduating from LDC status.
At present, Nepal contributes to the UN processes as the Chair of the Bureau of Committee on Conference; Vice-Chair of the Executive Board of the UNICEF; Vice-Chair of the 28th Meeting of State Parties to the UN Convention on Law of the Sea; Vice-Chair of the Disarmament Commission; member of the UN Human Rights Council; member of the Executive Board of the UN Women; member of the Commission on Science and Technology Development; and Deputy Member of the ILO Governing Board. A member from Nepali trade union is also serving in the ILO Governing Board and a Nepali has been serving at the CEDAW Committee as its member.
Through these roles we have been closely working with the UN and contributing to the multilateral process.
With these words, I conclude my remarks. I thank the United Nations Association of Nepal for the felicitations and good wishes extended to me.
I also thank the organizers for having me in this useful forum and providing the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important theme.
I thank you for your attention.