Statement delivered by Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the leader of Nepalese delegation to the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly.
28 September, New York
Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on your election to the Presidency of the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly. My delegation assures you of full support in the discharge of your responsibilities.
I also take this opportunity to place on record our profound appreciation to the outgoing President, His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, for having successfully presided over the Sixty-sixth session of the Assembly.
Let me also express our sincere tribute to His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations for his strong commitment and dedication with which he has been serving the United Nations.
Our founding fathers envisioned a peaceful, stable, just and prosperous world in establishing the United Nations at a time when the world was emerging from the ashes of successive devastating wars. Nearly seven-decades on, the lofty objectives of the UN Charter remain yet to be fully realized. Threats to international peace and security remain unabated with the continuation of traditional sources of threats alongside the emergence of new sources and forms of conflict. In fact, sense of insecurity appears to be more pervasive today than before, as people around the world continue to confront a wide range of situations characterized by colonial legacy, injustice, domination, exploitation, hatred, intolerance, exclusion, xenophobia and so on. Economic insecurity in the face of heightened global economic and financial crises and fierce competition for dwindling resources and energy security also have their share in generating tensions in many parts of the world.
The concept of collective security constituting the core pillar of the UN Charter has often been undermined with the recourse to means of dispute settlement outside the purview of multilateral mechanism. Unilateralism and selective interpretation of the Charter provisions risks inviting more conflicts and confrontation rather than understanding and cooperation. While every country has the legitimate right to pursue its enlightened national interests, international norms and values need to be observed when an action of a country affects the fundamental interests of the other. This necessitates the wider respect and observance of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and non-interference as the bedrock principles of international relations. These principles cannot and should not be made subject to political test under any circumstances.
Rising challenges do not mean that the role and importance of UN has diminished, rather it demands a more effective and strong United Nations Organization. We have to internalize this reality and move ahead, grasping the true spirit of its founding principles and purposes.
Nepal supports a just and lasting solution to the Middle East. It is our principled position that we support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination and a fully independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on UN resolutions. Peaceful and secure co-existence of independent and states of sovereign Palestine and Israel is a must for ensuring lasting peace in the Middle East.
We call for the end of violence and peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis as determined by the Syrian people themselves. Sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria must be upheld.
We are of the firm opinion that the protracted embargo on Cuba is unjustified and needs to be ended immediately and unconditionally.
We recognize the legitimate rights of every sovereign state to pursue development of nuclear technology solely for peaceful purposes under effective international supervision. We stand firmly against nuclear proliferation and arms race, and misuse of nuclear technology for ulterior motives.
We strongly oppose and renounce violence and physical attacks on diplomats anywhere and under any pretext.
We reiterate our call for general and complete disarmament of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction in a time bound manner. It is an irony that funding for global development agenda and fighting poverty has been overshadowed by global military expense of over 1.7 trillion dollars per annum. We welcome the recent initiative towards conventional arms regulation within the UN and underline the importance of an early conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty with the highest possible common standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. The international community should work in unison to strengthen controls over the small arms and light weapons to prevent their pervasive abuses by criminal elements.
We believe the confidence building dialogues and deliberations through regional mechanisms can greatly complement to the promotion of international peace and disarmament. Being host to Regional Centre for Peace and the Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific (RCPD), we emphasize the importance of revitalization of the ‘Kathmandu Process’ for promoting regional disarmament agenda.
It is heartening to note that Nepal as a major troops contributing country has already provided over 92,000 professional and dedicated peacekeepers to the United Nations for various operations since its first participation in 1959. We remain steadfast in our commitment to international peace and security and assure that our contribution to this noble cause will continue. While calling for timely reforms in this flagship activity, we stress the importance of equitable representation of the troops contributing countries at the leadership level –both at the UN headquarters and field missions.
I would like to reaffirm Nepal’s unreserved condemnation of terrorism anywhere in all its forms and manifestations, and renew call for an expeditious conclusion of the negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. As we continue to combat terrorism, we must not forget that the edifice of durable peace can be erected only on the firm pillars of the prevention of conflicts, peaceful resolution of disputes, persistent efforts for disarmament, poverty reduction and development, and respect for diversity, fairness and justice. There is a need to differentiate between terrorism and struggles for liberation and freedom for sustainability of peace and development.
Our commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and inclusive development is unflinching. Their mutually reinforcing effects foster active participation of the people in governance processes to safeguard peace, security and development. To address the post-conflict transition needs of Nepal, we have established mechanisms and processes for human rights protection and promotion as well as their monitoring at the highest level and various tiers at the sub-national levels. Being a party to 22 human rights conventions including seven core instruments, we have put in place several domestic laws that ensure the rights of all sections of society, including women, children and the marginalized and deprived communities. We are committed to control international human trafficking and make maximum efforts to ensure that the rights and interests of migrant workers are protected in labour destination countries. The National Human Rights Commission, an independent constitutional body, functions as the country’s all-powerful watchdog for protection and promotion of human rights. We are committed to strengthen this specialized national institution as a true custodian of human rights.
Nepal has provided shelter to a large number of refugees on humanitarian grounds. While we appreciate the assistance of international community for the maintenance of refugees, we reiterate that voluntary repatriation of refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor is the only durable solution to the refugee problem.
We underscore that the rule of law at the international level is as much important as it is at the national level for ensuring the sovereign equality of all states, respect for their territorial integrity, political independence and non-intervention in the internal affairs, which are essential principles for peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation among States.
The issue of sustainable development has come to the forefront of global discourse today. The Rio+20 Conference is based on it. We believe that we need to pursue not only sustainable development goals but also a development path that aims at equalizing prosperity through meaningful development opportunities by uprooting the deeply entrenched inequalities and global exploitative practices. In our opinion, freeing all human beings from dehumanizing clutches of poverty and hunger should constitute the first essential step towards this end. The outcome document of Rio+20 has laid out a broad framework for global action for ‘the Future We Want’ and a post-2015 global development agenda. The need of the hour is to ensure effective implementation. We emphasize the reinforcement of the three pillars of sustainable development with poverty eradication, inclusive development and environmental conservation at the centre, and ask for fuller accommodation of the concerns of the developing countries, particularly the LDCs, in defining the important aspects of finance, technology transfer and capacity building. It is extremely important to mount global efforts for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as we pursue to define Sustainable Development Goals for the future. Nepal attaches priority to eradication of poverty, conservation of mountain ecosystem, combating climate change and desertification, and ensuring energy and food security. In our situation, the conservation needs of the mountain ecosystems and the development needs of the people living there require to be coherently and holistically addressed with global partnership.
As we all have come to realize, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Its insidious effects are visible everywhere and are compounded by the consequent disasters of increasing magnitudes and frequencies. Countries like Nepal with negligible contribution to green house gases but having to bear the brunt of disproportionate impacts of climate change deserve special attention in creating and maintaining climate resilient societies. The negotiations under the UNFCCC should continue to be guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in letter and spirit. Nepal expects that the successor mechanism of Kyoto Protocol ensures binding commitments and climate justice. The various funding mechanisms for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures must be activated to take up actions on urgent basis.
The retreat of glaciers, glacial lake outbursts, drastic change in precipitation patterns, the loss of bio-diversity, water stress and desertification, weakened food and energy security, growing incidences and impacts of disasters, among other climate related problems, are pushing us even harder. The Government of Nepal has formulated National Adaptation Plan of Action and also designed framework for local level adaptation plan which is the first of its kind in our region. Since climate change and sustainable development issues are inextricably linked, enhanced support in capacity building and transfer of knowhow and technology, as well as increased funding for suitable climate projects and disaster mitigation are needed to protect the unique environment of Nepal.
The world we live in is more unjust today than when we inherited it. Contrary to the much-hyped belief, the profusion in knowledge, revolution in science and technology and mobility in ideas and global capital, though often termed as characteristic features of modern world, could have been used as significant contributions to making our planet safer and more just. But that could not be a reality. It is an irony that our capacities to produce goods and services have increased manyfold accumulating unprecedented wealth, but over one-third of the world population is forced to live under abject poverty.
The rapid globalization of finances and unsustainable consumption of resources has made few people further rich at the cost of the rest, marking greatest ever inequality among human beings in history. Obviously, the transformative power of globalization has not been utilized for the benefits of the masses. The direction and pattern of current form of economic globalization therefore calls for a change in its mode of operation so that it becomes more inclusive and responsive to the need of the poor and marginalized people.
Nepal views that the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China as important multilateral forums should play an active role in advancing the United Nations agenda in line with the Charter objectives of pursuing shared goals of peace, progress and prosperity. The principles and purposes of NAM are of continued relevance to forge collective moral resolve of the developing countries for creating an equitable, fair and just world order against the conservative forces of repression, invasion, intimidation and injustices. The ideals of NAM as reiterated by the recently held 16th Summit in Tehran go a long way in fostering better understanding and cooperative relations among countries and peoples of the world.
In a globalized and interdependent world, cooperation assumes a paramount value. We believe in cooperation at the global, regional and sub-regional levels for creating synergy and coherence of collective efforts to ensure welfare of the entire humanity. We are engaged in bringing changes in the life of our people including through the regional cooperation organizations like SAARC and BIMSTEC and also share the conviction that North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation need to be strengthened and promoted as complementary to each other in the best interest of the poorer segments of humanity.
The LDCs are suffering from dehumanizing marginalization and deprivation from basic necessities of life. This state of affairs is a blemish in the sheer affluence achieved by the globalized world. Global sustainable development would not be possible without sustainable development of the LDCs, including substantial improvement in the quality of life of their 880 million people. The world must pay due attention in words as well as in deeds to the special and differential needs and requirements of the LDCs.
The LLDCs to which Nepal belongs have to bear additional disadvantages of physical and non-physical barriers in trade resulting in an increased transactional cost of transit transport which renders their international trade uncompetitive. Transit countries, regional groups, international financial institutions and other development partners should work in tandem to overcome these difficulties by investing in transport infrastructure links and trade facilitation measures.
We underline the central role of United Nations in promoting development agenda taking into account the special needs and development challenges confronting the LDCs, LLDCs and other vulnerable groups of countries.
The United Nations has played a laudable role in setting universal norms and values, maintaining peace and security, promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, advancing multilateralism and forging global agenda for social and economic development. We strongly believe that this is the only global body with unquestioned legitimacy to seek solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. As the UN holds centrality and indispensability for advocacy and promotion of the universal values of peace, justice, equality, freedom and human dignity, the principles and purposes of the Charter should guide us to address all issues confronting us today.
Timely and continued reforms in the UN are necessary to strengthen and revitalize this world body to respond to the increasing global challenges. The General Assembly must be strengthened with power and authority for decision-making commensurate to its global representation. Nepal supports the Security Council expansion in both the member categories and for a greater accountability and transparency in its working methods. The Economic and Social Council must be strengthened for the promotion of international economic cooperation, coordination, policy review and dialogue as well as formulation and development of social and economic agenda and implementation of agreed international development goals, with special emphasis on the development of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, among others.
We seek increased role of the UN system in the global economic governance with strengthened coordination and cooperation with the Breton Woods institutions and the WTO to reflect the dynamics of change.
Now let me briefly speak a few words about the latest situation in my country. Our main historical task is yet to conclude the historical transition positively as early as possible, with the promulgation of new constitution from the Constituent Assembly and completion of the peace process in totality. From the historical people’s movement 2006, which was the culmination of all forms of struggles launched by Nepali people for decades against autocracy, we abolished monarchy and established republican state, and brought some other important achievements like secularism, federalism, inclusive and proportional representation and participation, which are yet to be institutionalized in a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly was elected for the first time in Nepal’s political history in 2008 which was mandated to draft the constitution addressing the aspirations of the people for change with restructuring of the state, ending all forms of exploitation and discrimination based on class, ethnicity, gender and region. The Constituent Assembly worked for four years to draft the new constitution and completed about 80 to 90 percent of the drafting. But without finalizing the draft, it was dissolved on 27 May this year due to failure to meet its deadline and the Supreme Court’s verdict.
We have made qualitative progress in the technical side of the peace process, mainly the integration of former Maoist combatants. There is not any outstanding problem left in this regard and has reached near to the point of completion. The transitional justice mechanism is in process for ultimate peace and reconciliation process needed for the completion of the peace process. But we have yet to find the solution to constitution making from the Constituent Assembly. For this, political parties are engaged in dialogues and negotiations and are seriously committed to the consensus solution. National consensus is the only positive option to give the outlet ending the current impasse. We hope we will be able to do so without much delay. At this time of going through the process of institutionalizing the change, we have the firm belief that democracy, development and peace are inter-related and interdependent. By democracy, we mean inclusive and participatory democracy, and by development we mean people-centered development with social justice and socio-economic transformation. Without democracy and development, there cannot be lasting and sustainable peace. And democracy, development, peace and stability should safeguard the national sovereignty. Thus democracy, development, peace and national sovereignty are the major components of our change process. From our experience we can say that democracy should have both universal and particular aspects.
We thank the international community, including the UN for their continued support and cooperation for our peace and constitution making process from the very beginning and hope that it will continue in the future as well.
Nature has blessed us with an outstanding mountain range with gushing rivers, incredible bio-diversity and a spectrum of landscape with contrasts and vibrancy. We are equally rich in ancient cultural heritage, multiple ethnic cultures and a diverse mosaic of hard working people. We need a stable and peaceful environment to make effective use of these diverse endowments for socio-economic transformation along with ongoing state restructuring. Then only the historic achievements we have been able to make on the political front can be translated into tangible results in economic and human development terms.
As the mountainous terrains of Nepal harbor vast freshwater resources with substantive hydro power potential, we want to harness these resources to the full extent for equitable benefits by welcoming foreign investments in their development. In this context, we welcome the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative launched by the Secretary-General.
As a symbolic gesture to institutionalize peace for development in the national, regional and global contexts, we want to develop Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace, into an international city of peace. In this respect, we call for international support and cooperation to realize this initiative.
Finally, let me reiterate that the UN principles be pursued in a holistic and balanced manner.
The United Nations should not only be the custodian of its noble principles, it must also be able to deliver on its promises. Let it not be a mere umbrella of big powers.
The UN has more responsibility than ever before to create an inclusive and just global order. Let it not falter on its historic duties.
Let the UN serve the larger interests of the poor and the weakest segments of the international community.
Let economic transformation of the LDCs consistent with their right to development be on top of the UN Agenda.
Let the UN not fail in addressing the aspirations of the millions of people for freedom, equality and prosperity.
Let its vision be translated into a visible change in the lives of the oppressed people.
And, in conclusion I would like to draw, in all humility, the attention of all the leaders of the world to the core reality that either we all reach the goal of global peace and prosperity together, or nobody will. Let us therefore act accordingly.