Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at a Seminar on “Nepal’s Foreign Policy: Orientation and Priorities” organized by United Nations Association of Nepal
Kathmandu, 09 August 2019
Chairman of the United Nations Association of Nepal,
Friends from the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
At the outset, let me thank the United Nations Association of Nepal for hosting this seminar and inviting me to speak on this important theme.
Before I touch upon the subject matter of today’s seminar, let me briefly go through the background that shaped and inspired Nepal’s world view as it grew a consolidated nation state from the fragmentation that this region witnessed in the 18th century.
We are proud that Nepal is one of the oldest independent States in Asia. Nepal’s recorded history is a testimony of our practice of foreign policy with neighbouring countries even before the unification.
Prithiv Narayan Shah has eloquently articulated the unique geopolitical situation of Nepal in the metaphor of a ‘yam between two boulders’. Though the connotation and understanding of the “yam” has undergone significant change with the time, modern Nepal’s foreign policy draws on its underlying message ever since. Safeguarding of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity were inherent in the ‘notion of yam’. Nepal even chose self-imposed isolation for over a century but retained her independence in the face of expanding colonialism in the region.
The political change of 1951 opened up the country and expanded our external outreach. Throughout the series of political upheavals and systemic transformation that followed in the past 70 years, basic tenets of our foreign policy remained consistent with necessary adjustments in its nuances and strategies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Constitution of Nepal guides basic framework for the conduct of Nepal’s foreign policy. The Constitution also defines core elements of our national interest. Safeguarding of the freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, nationalism, independence and dignity of the country, border security, economic wellbeing and prosperity and the rights of the Nepali people are defined as the basic elements of Nepal’s national interest. It is intrinsic that service to the national interests is the primary objective of our foreign policy goal.
The Constitution also guides Nepal to pursue independent foreign policy and adhere to the principles of the UN Charter, non-alignment, Panchsheel, international law and the norms of world peace. Maintaining foreign relations on the basis of sovereign equality and enhancing dignity of the nation is an important element of our foreign policy.
These guiding principles have enabled us to take independent posture on international issues, articulate our views on merit basis, contribute to the world peace, and nurture friendship with all countries of the world.
Within the framework set by the Constitution, safeguarding of Nepal’s sovereignty, and independence and ensuring non-interference in the internal affairs of the country becomes a paramount priority for the Government in all of its external engagements.
We want amity with all, enmity with none, and consider international relations should be based on justice, sovereign equality, mutual respect and shared benefit. We want to promote Nepal’s credentials as an open, progressive, and democratic State.
We support multilateralism to promote a just and equitable international order in which all States- big or small- fulfil their international obligations in good faith, and enjoy equal opportunity to achieve their aspirations for development and prosperity. We consider that stability and predictability in the global order is essential for maintaining international peace and security.
A country transformed from armed conflict, we would be happy to share our hard-earned experience of successful nationally-led and owned peace process for the benefit of the countries in conflict or those in transition.
Having achieved internal political stability, we want to focus on the achievement of economic development with the overarching goal of ‘prosperous Nepal, happy Nepali’. Development imperatives at home guide our diplomatic engagements abroad. We have devised policies and national development plans accordingly. Focused pursuit of economic development agenda will remain a key priority of our economic diplomacy. Graduating from the status of LDC and attaining the middle-income status by 2030 are set as our milestones.
More recently, another dimension of Nepal’s standing in global stage has been added by expanding Nepali diaspora. A number of Nepali diasporas have excelled in the field of academics, science and technology, medicine, engineering, arts, designs, architecture, culinary skills, literature, industries, sports and adventures. Many of them have written their own success stories of entrepreneurship. They have individually and collectively contributed for the promotion of Nepal’s image in the world stage.
As a new initiative, the government has recently launched Brain Gain Centre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to connect and attract knowledge, skills and expertise of Nepali diaspora to the service of the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nepal has maintained friendly and cooperative relations with both of her immediate neighbours: India and China. Maintaining close and cordial relationship with them is our consistent priority. Our relations have expanded manifold in the sphere of political, economic, cultural, trade, tourism, investment, and people-to-people exchanges. We look forward to further strengthening of these relations. We admire our neighbours for their continued goodwill and support to our national aspirations and for their cooperation in the development efforts of Nepal. We consider the spectacular economic development of our neighbours as an opportunity and desire to benefit from that. We are conscious of the legitimate interests of our neighbours and will not allow any activity against them in our soil and expect the same from our neighbours.
Our relations with the countries in the extended neighbourhood are based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding which we wish to sustain and consolidate. They are further nurtured by growing cultural and traditional ties. Our priority is to further explore, open up and diversify our relations especially in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.
Our relations with major powers and development partners have always remained cordial and cooperative. Their goodwill and support to Nepal in her development endeavour has been an enduring aspect of our friendship. We value this cooperation and remain grateful to our development partners for their continued support. While development cooperation from our partners through the Government channel in alignment with our priorities, leadership and ownership is important for us, we look forward to an enhanced level of investment and technology transfer. We continue to work towards enriching the substance of cooperation in our bilateral engagements with these countries.
Labour migration is an important issue for Nepal. A large number of our citizens are engaged in foreign employment and the remittances they send home make a sizable share of our economy. Therefore, it becomes Government’s priority to work closely with the countries of destination for safety, security and wellbeing of our migrant workers. In recent years our engagements with the labour destination countries have been more intensive and enriched by exchange of high level visits, and progressively growing trade and investment. We look forward to expand and diversify the scope of cooperation with these countries so as to encompass the broader areas of economic partnership involving trade, investment, tourism and civil aviation, among others.
Nepal is an ardent supporter of the rule-based and just multilateral system with the United Nations (UN) at its centre. We have abiding faith on the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and have adhered to them in letter and spirit.
As an active member of the UN, Nepal has contributed significantly for over six decades to the maintenance of international peace and security and protection of human rights. Nepal currently stands 5th largest troop and police contributing country in the UN peace operations.
Nepal attaches high importance to the protection and promotion of human rights. Human rights hold the centre stage in our Constitution. We are a State party to twenty-four international human rights-related instruments, including seven out of nine core Conventions. Nepal considers all human rights are universal, in-divisible, inter-dependent, inter-related and mutually reinforcing.
Currently Nepal is a member of UN Human Rights Council, and also serves as the coordinator of Asia Pacific group in the Council. We are a member of UN Peace Building Commission, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Commission on Science and Technology for Development, Executive Board of UN-WOMEN, and Deputy Member of the ILO Governing Body. We are coordinator of Colombo Process of Labour Sending Countries and Chair of the Enhanced Integrated Framework Board of WTO. A Nepali expert is serving as a Vice Chair in the CEDAW Committee.
Nepal supports the UN reform initiatives with equal emphasis on all three pillars- peace and security, development and human rights- and to make the global body more efficient, effective and responsive to the need of our time.
Nepal stands for peaceful solution of international disputes. We support national leadership and ownership of any solution to internal conflict and apolitical role of the agencies like the United Nations.
Nepal continues to support total and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction. Nepal condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believes that terrorist acts cannot be justified on any ground whoever may be the perpetrator.
Nepal accords high priority to the issue of climate change, which is one of the biggest challenges of our time. We contribute negligible in the global greenhouse gas emission. However, as a mountainous country with fragile ecosystem, we are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and global warming. We, therefore, support effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and call for enhanced level of climate finance and technology transfer for the adaptation and mitigation.
Nepal continues to champion the cause of LDCs, LLDCs, South-South and triangular cooperation in the UN and other international forums. Solidarity and cooperation with LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS will continue to characterize our deliberations.
Promoting regional economic cooperation remains our priority. A year ago, Nepal successfully hosted fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu. As the Chair of SAARC we have been consistently putting our efforts to revive the stalled SAARC process. Nepal plays its due role in Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) as its member and in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude, let me state that our efforts have been to ensure that Nepal’s foreign policy serves its purpose to safeguard the vital areas of our national interest in the context of changing global and regional dynamics. We are also fully aware that fundamentals of our foreign policy remain consistent with the constitutional provisions and our practice remains coherent and credible. Recently, we hosted a National Dialogue on Foreign Policy with an objective of forging minimum common understanding on the critical foreign policy areas. We consider that such exercise should continue in the future as well.
With a view to promoting deliberations on contemporary issues of global importance, we are preparing to host Sagarmatha Dialogue in Nepal early next year. We hope Sagarmatha Dialogue to be a unique contribution of Nepal in the policy deliberations that will be an important forum to broaden our understanding of the major issues shaping the global and regional order in our time.
I thank you all for your attention.