Kathmandu, 18th February 2019
Chairman and the Office Bearers of Nepal Council of World Affairs,
Friends from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Namaste and a very good afternoon.
At the outset, let me thank Nepal Council of World Affairs for inviting me to this important event organized to mark its 71st Anniversary.
I wish to congratulate the Council and its office bearers on their successful marching the journey of seven decades and extend my best wishes for the continued progress of the Council. I commend Council’s efforts to provide a forum for dialogues and discourse in the domain of foreign policy.
Since its inception, the Council was active to host luminaries in foreign policy and diplomacy from within the country and abroad. I wish that the Council will be able to carry on this tradition of quality deliberations, revive the vibrancy of its membership, and generate a community of foreign policy experts.
This would be a fitting service to the objectives of this Council.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nepali people are proud of their independent history and sovereignty. The Constitution of Nepal has clearly defined the areas of national interest and provided broad policy framework for the conduct of independent foreign policy. Principles of Panchasheel, non-alignment, UN Charter, international law and norms of world peace have remained guiding principles for our foreign relations.
Our foreign policy aims at safeguarding sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and protection of national interest. Within this framework, promoting Nepal’s credentials as an open and progressive democratic State at the international level; and pursuit of effective economic diplomacy to the service of overarching objective of “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali” remain twin goals of our external engagements.
Amity with all and enmity with none is the motto in managing our international relations. We value equality, justice, respect and mutual benefit in the conduct of foreign relations.
Building on the hard earned political stability, Nepal at present strives to achieve economic development and prosperity. The present Government is committed to bring economic transformation of the country and improve quality of life of the people. We have mobilized our diplomatic apparatus to pursue these objectives by promoting foreign direct investment, tourism, technology transfer, and export trade. We are equally striving for consolidating inclusive democracy and ensuring good governance. Our unflinching commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms will be stronger with political and economic empowerment of the people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We enjoy cordial and friendly relations with our neighbors. We have further strengthened trust, goodwill and expanded the scope of cooperation and economic partnership with our two immediate neighbors. In addition to the regular exchange of high level visits, increasing people to people contacts have further strengthened and deepened our relations.
Nepal and India enjoy civilizational, geographical, socio-economic, and cultural relations. The visits of the Right Honorable Prime Minister to India and the visits of His Excellency the Prime Minister of India to Nepal twice last year have contributed to further enhance mutual trust and consolidate bilateral relations.
Nepal and China are age old friends. Our relations as they are based on the principle of peaceful co-existence have always remained friendly and cordial. The visits of Right Honorable Vice President and Right Honorable Prime Minister to China last year have further consolidated the bilateral relations.
Equally important is our relation with the friendly countries in our extended neighborhood, the labour receiving countries and the other countries in the comity of nations. We attach high importance to our relations with the major powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council, the European Union and its member States, and our traditional development partners.
Considering the importance of establishing formal relations with UN member states, we have steadily expanded our diplomatic outreach to 163 countries.
We believe in regionalism as a vehicle for trade and economic growth. Last year, we successfully hosted fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu. We are the Chair of SAARC and have consistently worked to revive the stalled SAARC process. Last year in September we hosted informal meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA. We are a member of Asian Cooperation Dialogue and a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
We believe in constructive multilateralism to serve our collective interests. Nepal remains actively engaged in the multilateral forums. Our faith in the principles and purposes of the UN Charter is unwavering. We consider United Nations as the centre of multilateralism to deliberate on global issues of common concerns. We do not see contradiction in multilateralism and national interests and are committed to a rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core.
We understand the multilateral rules and architecture are not perfect and they must be made fit-for-purpose to deliver on the global agenda including the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Therefore, we stand for timely and comprehensive reform of the United Nations for global peace, accountability and effective service delivery in view of the burgeoning global problems and dwindling resources. We hold that the reform of the Security Council should reflect the emerging realities and embrace democratic principles and fair representation.
Over six decades of Nepal’s exemplary participation in the UN mandated peace operations have been widely acknowledged. Currently, Nepal stands 5th largest troop and police contributing country to the UN peace operations. Considering Nepal’s contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security, Nepal has been elected as the member of the Organizational Committee of the Peace Building Commission for the term of 2019-2020. Nepali peacekeepers have proven their competence as highly professional and dedicated savior of peace and humanitarian protection.
We continue to maintain principled and independent position on major issues of global concern. We support general and complete disarmament, especially of all weapons of mass destruction. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We support peaceful settlement of all international disputes and consider diplomacy and dialogue as the most legitimate means of reducing differences and resolving conflicts.
Currently Nepal is a member of the Human Rights Council. We have presented our candidature for re-election to the Human Rights Council for the term of 2020-22. As a state party to 24 human rights related international instruments, including 7 out of 9 core human rights conventions, Nepal always stands for apolitical examination of human rights issues. We continue to faithfully engage with the relevant UN human rights mechanisms such as the UPR process, the Special Procedures mechanism and treaty bodies. Our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedom is total and we are committed to fulfill our human rights obligations in good faith.
Though we are not a party to the Refugee Convention and its Protocol, we have hosted Bhutanese refugees on humanitarian grounds. They have the right to return to their home country in safety and honor and this must be respected.
Nepal firmly stands for the implementation of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. Right Honorable President’s representation to the COP 24 reflects the high importance attached by Nepal on this critical issue of our time. Climate vulnerabilities of the countries like ours is real and we call for international community’s substantial support in terms of climate finance and technology for adaptation and mitigation.
Nepal remains steadfast in its call for the effective implementation of all relevant international agreements to address the specific development needs of LDCs and LLDCs. We call for progress in the stalled process of Doha Round of trade negotiations and implementation of earlier decision on special and differentiated treatment to the LDCs and LLDCs in particular.
Safety, security and well being of our migrant workers remain an area of vital interest for us. We have been closely working with the countries of origin and destination through bilateral and multilateral processes. Currently Nepal is the Chair of the Colombo Process, a regional process of labour sending Asian countries. We hosted the Fifth Senior Officials’ Meeting and Sixth Ministerial Consultation of the Colombo Process in November last year.
Nepal constructively contributed during the negotiation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and was represented at Ministerial level in the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Compact in Marrakesh in December last year. Nepal’s emphasis on decent work, ethical recruitment, welfare of migrants including female workers, consular support and cooperation found good space in the compact.
To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, let me emphasize that the mainstay of today’s diplomacy is the pursuit of economic agenda. We will strive to promote our vital economic interests through activities aimed at attracting more foreign investment in our national priority sectors, expanding our export trade and promoting tourism, among others. We will strive to widen the avenues of cooperation with our neighbors in conformity with our national interest and priorities.
Consistent with domestic and external realities, we continue to follow the unfolding opportunities and try to benefit from them by readjusting our strategies as appropriate.
The enormous international goodwill towards Nepal and Nepali people, ever expanding Nepali diaspora, our culture, civilizational heritage make our soft power. We will continue to harness existing soft power and build on its strengths for the long term benefit of the country and the people.
I thank you for your kind attention.