Statement by Honourable Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali Minister for Foreign Affairs at the High-Level Segment of the 40th Session of Human Rights Council

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Statement by Honourable Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal and Head of Delegation to the High-Level Segment of the 40th Session of Human Rights Council Geneva, 27 February 2019

Mr. President
Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed an honour to be back after 11 years since I first addressed this Council in 2007.

I bring warm greetings on behalf of the people and Government of Nepal for the success of this session.

At the outset, let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, and members of the Bureau and assure Nepal’s full support.

I congratulate Madam High Commissioner and wish her for a successful tenure of office.

Mr. President,
While addressing the 73rd session of the UNGA last September, the Prime Minister of Nepal Rt. Honourable Mr. K P Sharma Oli had said and I quote, “”[W]e hold the view that development, democracy and respect for human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. As a member of the Human Rights Council, we will continue to play our constructive role to deliver on Council’s mandates.” Unquote.

This statement essentially reflects Nepal’s firm commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights at home and constructively contribute to fulfill the mandate of this Council as its member.

We believe in multilateralism with the United Nations at its center. Nepal holds strong faith in the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments to which we are a party.

We firmly believe in the universality, indivisibility, interrelatedness, interdependence and mutually reinforcing nature of human rights, including the right to development. All human rights must be treated in a fair and equal manner on the same footing and with the same emphasis. Our approach must remain balanced and all human rights must be operational at national, regional and international levels. The rule of law must work at all levels.

Peace and human rights cannot be achieved without attaining inclusive development. We consider that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Global Compact on Migration provide wider platforms to advance inclusive human rights agenda everywhere. Faithful implementation of these landmark compacts and other relevant internationally agreed development frameworks is central to the enjoyment of human rights by all.

As we celebrate the centenary of International Labour Organization and the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, these milestone events should inspire us to further advance human-centered future of work and the human rights agenda.

Mr. President,
The Human Rights Council and its mechanisms have been playing an important role for the protection and promotion of human rights. The work of this Council should rekindle a hope for all those that look upon us as a voice of conscience. This becomes possible only when we act in unison for all those that deserve our attention. Our commitment and action should speak in harmony.

The Universal Periodic Review mechanism has successfully evolved as a platform of positive international cooperation in the field of human rights. This represents a transparent and fair process for all. We consider that the spirit of cooperation and desire to improve human rights situation everywhere through UPR process should be further promoted. In Nepal, we have been implementing the outcome of second cycle of UPR in earnest under a clear plan of actions.

Mr. President,
Nepal represents a uniquely successful case of democratic political transformation. At the center of this process lies our aspiration to ensure equal rights to all of our people.
Therefore, Nepal’s commitment to the universal values of human rights is total. We are a party to all major international human rights instruments, including seven of the nine core human rights conventions. We have internalized those values into our national laws, policies and practices.

The Constitution of Nepal is founded on universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms and such other principles as inclusive multiparty democratic polity, pluralism, the rule of law, representative and accountable government, social justice and independent judiciary. Equality and non-discrimination lie at the core of it. The Constitution guarantees special measures that all sections of our society are enabled to enjoy those rights and receive fair share of representation in all spheres of national life, including politics, governance, health, education, employment and social security.

We have put in place requisite legal and institutional arrangements to realize those provisions. The year 2018 essentially remained a year of human rights law making. We accomplished the task of enacting total 16 legislations for the implementation of all fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal confirms to the Paris principle and stands accredited as ‘A’ category national human rights institution for years.

Separate independent and constitutionally empowered Commissions have been established to promote and protect the rights and interests of women, Dalit, indigenous nationalities, Madheshi, Tharu and Muslims. National Inclusion Commission is mandated to ensure that the constitutional and legal provisions are effectively implemented.

True to our commitment, we have all along remained constructively engaged with the UN human rights mechanisms and fulfilled our reporting obligations. Last year alone, three periodic reports of Nepal under CRPD, CERD and CEDAW were considered by the respective treaty bodies. We hosted Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences. We have extended invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and are keen on welcoming her to Nepal some time this year.

Nepal was one of the pioneering countries to mainstreaming human rights agendas into national policies and plans through Human Rights National Action Plan. Currently the fourth series of the Action Plan (2014-19) is under implementation and the fifth one is being prepared in tandem with the national development plan for next five years.

Mr. President,
Having firmly set the political course in place, we are resolutely focused on economic agenda with the long term vision of “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali”. We are in the mission of enabling our people to fully enjoy all human rights. Landmark schemes of contribution-based social security scheme, universal health insurance program and Prime Minister Employment Program have been launched.

Forty-five percent of the public sector employment has been reserved for weaker sections of our population. The policy of affirmative action has significantly enhanced their access to education, health services, employment opportunities and political participation. We have been able to bring transformative change in their empowerment and bring them to the forefront of political and development process.

The story of gender equality and empowerment is particularly inspiring. Women now represent 33 per cent at the federal and provincial assemblies, and total 41% in all elected bodies. Nepal currently has a woman Head of State.

Strengthening of national capacity remains our priority. Nepal’s independent judiciary has made contribution to further enrich human rights jurisprudence. We have abolished death penalty and do not condone impunity.

Nepal is a uniquely successful case of nationally owned and nationally led peace process. To conclude the last leg of this process, term of the two independent Commissions- the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons- have been recently extended to allow time to complete their mandates. We are preparing for the amendment of the laws in consultation with and participation of the victims. There exists a requisite political will to conclude this last remaining task of the peace process in equally unique way. In doing so, we will be guided by the Comprehensive Peace Accord, directive of the Supreme Court, relevant international commitments, concerns of the victims and the ground realities. There will be no blanket amnesty in the cases of serious violations of human rights.

Civil society organizations have been important partners in our development efforts. We value the role of the media and civil society in the promotion and protection of human rights.
To conclude, Mr. President, Nepal truly believes that together we can provide a strong voice to all those who look up to the Council and make a positive difference in their lives by upholding the mantle of human rights.

We are a young democracy. We are keen to learn from the wider world, share our own experience in the field, and contribute for the promotion and protection of human rights. Our experience so far in the Council has given much needed confidence to consolidate democracy, peace and human rights in the country. With this in mind, Nepal has presented candidature for the re-election to the Council for the second term 2021-2023 and we count on your support and cooperation.

We know that no country has ever achieved perfection in human rights. What is important is how sincerely and seriously we are aiming higher and better. We consider that Nepal has been consistently doing better and we are genuinely willing to improve further. With this open mind and genuine desire we have come to this session.

I thank you.