14th Bali Democracy Forum
Democracy for Humanity: Advancing Economic and Social Justice During the Pandemic
Statement by Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Dr. Narayan Khadka
9 December 2021
Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Mr. Retno L.P. Marsudi,
Honorable Foreign Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for hosting the 14th Bali Democracy Forum despite the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nepal attaches high importance to the role played by the Forum in promoting the cause of democracy.
I hope that this year’s Forum will make valuable contributions in advancing the cause of economic and social justice for humanity even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impede economic growth and development across the world.
Democracy is about delivering good governance, economic justice, and human rights and freedoms.
A successful democracy is the result of deep economic and social transformations, strong national unity, and inclusive institutions.
In recent times, though, democracy has been facing mounting challenges on various fronts.
Fragile social welfare systems, environmental degradation, corruption, and diseases and epidemics have weakened even robust democracies and hindered their ability to deliver.
None of these challenges is as corrosive and ominous as existing pervasive socio-economic inequality.
Democracies should be capable of taking on the long-term challenges of modernizing societies, resolving social and economic conflicts, and above all, enhancing equality and social justice.
The alternative to democracy, as Nepal’s first democratically elected Prime Minister BP Koirala emphasized, can only be an even better democracy – a political system that blends political freedoms with equity and social justice for all.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Nepal’s travails with democracy provide useful insights on institutionalizing democratic governance in a country facing complex socio-economic challenges.
The several spurts of democracy in Nepal were short-lived and were undone by one major factor – the absence of social and economic transformation and inclusive representation that meet people’s aspirations for peace, prosperity, and justice.
The Constitution of Nepal 2015, which came at the culmination of Nepal’s many democratic struggles spanning seven decades, envisions a society where equity leads to equality.
It is guided by the philosophy that political rights and freedoms go hand in hand with economic and social justice, and inclusion.
The lessons we learn from Nepal’s democratic journey are equally relevant in ensuring peace, equality, fairness, and justice in the world.
Three major challenges are hitting democracies hard the world over, all at once: the peril of growing inequality, the specter of climate change, and the scourge of global pandemics like Covid-19.
These three interlocked challenges cannot be addressed without nations acting in concert.
We must fight climate change and pandemics together.
We must also join hands together in the fight against global inequality.
Investing in people’s education and health, unleashing the creative and entrepreneurial energies of the youth, and keeping the workforce ready to adapt to technological changes are key elements in reducing inequality across and within countries.
Reducing inequalities requires placing international cooperation and multilateralism at the front and center of inter-state relations, and prioritizing work over wealth, planet over profits and people over power.
The Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered the urgency – and our latent capacity – for leveraging global co-operation in implementing that global vision.
The fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic could have been much worse but for the success in forging cooperation among nations in exchanging scientific expertise, procuring medical supplies, and developing and distributing vaccines.
The need for international co-operation in tackling global challenges has never been as compelling as now, and its prospects never as huge.
I hope that the discussions in this Forum will make valuable contributions in advancing the cause of international co-operation for a more prosperous and a more equal world.
Thank you, Excellencies.