The above theme topic was first of the lecture series this year to be organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs on 09 September 2012 in Kathmandu. The objective of the lecture was to concretize the agenda, Nepal has to raise at the United Nations. It was a lecture cum paper presented by Mr. Madhuraman Acharya, former Foreign Secretary and Nepalese Permanent Representative to the UN. The presentation was followed by interactions among the participants who were various related stakeholders of Nepal such as government ministries, former diplomats, former United Nations senior officers from Nepal, professors, intellectuals and international relations’ experts, media persons and representatives from the foreign departments of main political parties.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister graced the programme as the Chief Guest and key Note speaker.
Following is the Key Note Address by Hon’ble DPM and Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Mr. Chairperson, Dear participants,
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this programme today and share some of my thoughts on the theme ’67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly: Nepal’s Perspective and Role’. Organization of this talk programme is highly timely in view of our preparation for the 67 UNGA. I thank the IFA for taking the initiative and bringing together a galaxy of intellectuals, scholars, academicians, diplomats, representatives of the foreign departments of political parties and media representatives. I am confident that our deliberations here today will be fruitful.
The 67th Session of the UNGA, like the previous ones, will definitely provide us with a forum and an opportunity to highlight Nepal’s position on a number of issues of global concern and importance, and exchange views with the world leaders on the sidelines. We will have the opportunity to build to articulate our independent and merit-based views on a range of issues confronting us and the international community at large and on the spirit of the recently concluded 16th Summit of the Non-aligned Movement. Like the previous sessions, Nepal attaches importance to the 67th session as well. As an ardent supporter of multilateralism and central role of the UN in global affairs, Nepal always attaches importance to UNGA and other important events under it. From our national perspective, the following issues, which I think will be important.
a. Internal situation and the peace process
We will avail of the opportunity to inform the international community of our serious efforts towards concluding the on-going peace process in totality including the drafting of new constitution which is government’s top priority, by resolving all outstanding issues on the basis of national consensus. Technical aspects of the peace process, mainly the integration of the Former Maoist Combatants is pushed ahead and already reached near to the point of completion. But the constitution drafting part is stalled due to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly without promulgating the new constitution. We will inform the international community about the latest development, our sincere commitment and efforts to resolve it. In doing so we will be presenting to the world the trust and underlying philosophy of our nationally-driven indigenous peace process as well as the challenges we confront. This will help sustain international goodwill and support in our efforts aimed at laying the foundation of an inclusive, progressive, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Nepal. The international community, including the United Nations, has been supporting our peace process in various ways and we remain thankful to them. We are fully conscious that international support and cooperation must be in line with our overarching national priorities and needs.
b. International peace and security, peacekeeping, disarmament and terrorism
The international community will discuss Arab spring and the conflict in Syria and the situation in the Middle East, including growing tension between Iran and the west over nuclear issue within the larger framework of international peace and security. It has been our consistent policy that international disputes must always be resolved through peaceful means with unquestionable respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence and non-interference in internal affairs of other countries as bedrock foundation for interstate relationship. We will reiterate our opposition to unilateral measures and call for multilateral and rule-based methods in resolving all international disputes. We will continue to call for unequivocal faith in and scrupulous observance of the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter as well as the other norms and principles of internal law. Needless to say, Nepal’s commitment to the UN Charter remains unshakable.
On Syria, we call for peaceful resolution of the conflict as determined by the Syrian people themselves. Sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria must be upheld in any peaceful solution.
We support the legitimate right of the Palestinian people for self-determination and a sovereign Palestine state. We are convinced that resolution of the Palestinian problem is critical to ensuring lasting peace in the Middle East.
We recognize the legitimate right of every sovereign state to pursue development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under effective international supervision. Technology must always be used for the benefit and wellbeing of mankind, but not for the destruction of mankind and civilization. We stand firmly against nuclear proliferation and armed race and misuse of nuclear technology for ulterior motive. We strongly support the establishment of nuclear free zones in the various parts of the world. Elimination of nuclear weapons is essential to end nuclear monopoly that induces unhealthy and perilous competition.
We will reinforce our longstanding position on disarmament that we stand for general and complete disarmament under effective international control. We call for the disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction– nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological–from the planet in a time-bound manner, as weapons provide no effective guarantee to security in an interconnected and interdependent world where the definition of security can no longer be confined to traditional notion of military security. As a party to NPT and CWC, Nepal has been advocating for the promotion of disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament. Nepal stands for prevention of arms race in the outer space and encourages an early conclusion of a Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). We also call for an early conclusion of an arms trade treaty and proper regulations to manage small arms and light weapons. Revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament must receive priority to advance global disarmament in a meaningful way within a multilateral setting.
Nepal believes that regional disarmament mechanisms complement efforts to promote the global disarmament agenda. The UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (RCPD), relocated to Kathmandu on 18 August 2008, is expected to revitalize the “Kathmandu Process” by facilitating dialogues and deliberations for confidence building in the region.
Nepal will reinforce its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever, whenever and for whatever purposes it occurs and whoever commits it and call for resolute international actions to fight it. It has always been a principled policy of Nepal not to let anyone use its soil against any country. We also believe that in order to effectively deal with the scourge of terrorism, its underlying causes must be addressed. We support international efforts to convene an international conference to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Nepal supports the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted on 8 September 2006 and has been implementing it. Terrorism must not be confused with legitimate political movements and movements for liberation and self-determination.
Challenges to security are manifold and complex. Poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, diseases, domination, discrimination, injustice and exploitation are the root causes of conflict and insecurity. The international community must resolutely address them to create a peaceful, stable, just, democratic and prosperous world. So, we must make a conscious choice, a choice that saves the present generation and ensures enduring security to the posterity, that we need more investment in development, but not in armaments, to erect the sustainable foundation of global security.
The 67th UNGA will provide yet another high-level opportunity to underscore our commitment to the international peace and security through our active and long standing participation in peacekeeping operations around the world. We remain fully committed to supporting the UN in fulfilling its primary responsibility. Obviously, peacekeeping has been the most visible enterprise of the UN in the field of international peace and security, and a flagship contribution of Nepal.
We will stress that for the success any peacekeeping mission, the Security Council must be guided by the unity of purpose and it should mobilize its entire political capital, based on merits and principles, to ensure that a coherent strategic framework is in place to achieve the desired objectives that must be explicitly articulated in the mission’s mandate. Peacekeeping should be guided by an integrated three-pronged strategy. It has to stabilize the security situation, support their national political process and ensure economic revitalization. All the three pillars need to be strengthened in a holistic manner from the very beginning.
We will call for an effective coordination between the Security Council and troops contributing countries in the design and implementation of peacekeeping mandates. There is also a need to highlight safety and security of the peacekeepers as well as their dignified standing in terms of service and other benefits.
c. Development issues: Sustainable development, climate change, MDGs, LDCs and LLDCs, South-South cooperation.
We will be meeting in New York in the immediate aftermath of the Rio plus Twenty Summit on Sustainable Development. While calling for a strong development pillar of the UN to bring about visible transformation in the developmental landscape of poor countries, we intend to give focused attention to development agenda during the general debate and in the committee works. We will underline the importance of employing a holistic approach to deal with all three components of sustainable development on an equal footing namely, economic growth, social development and environmental protection. We will renew our call for the need to give top priority to development needs and challenges facing the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the articulation of sustainable development goals with the provision of adequate resources to achieve them.
There is hardly any doubt about devastating impact that climate change has on development, as one of its greatest challenges. As a country both with least contribution to greenhouse gas emission and awfully limited coping capacity, Nepal has been disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. As climate change has its worst effects on natural resources and agriculture, majority of the Nepalese people who rely on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods are the ones hit hardest by climate change. Shifting weather patterns, erratic precipitation and resultant floods, rapid melting of glaciers and loss of fresh water sources, loss of biodiversity and occurrence of tropical-like diseases in hilly and high regions due to rise in temperature are some of the glaring examples of climate change. Nepal’s fragile mountain ecology is highly susceptible to climate change. Against this background and in cooperation with countries suffering from the same pattern of climate change, especially the mountain countries, Nepal will strongly call for concrete and urgent action at global level, both on normative and practical fronts, to deal with growing phenomenon of climate change. Nepal stands for an early conclusion of an international legal instrument to succeed the Kyoto Protocol and adequate financial, technological and technical support to the LDCs for both adaptation and mitigation purposes. Nepal stands firm in its principled position that ‘polluter pays principle’ must be strictly upheld and that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must continue to underpin global framework for climate change. Nepal, as the host of the International Conference of Mountain Countries on Climate change , in April earlier this year, will continue to draw the attention of the international community to “Kathmandu Call for Action” and its implementation.
We will call for targeted and concrete support measures for the realization of all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We will also underline the need for a clear vision and roadmap to guide development agenda in post 2015 period. As the current chair of the LDCs, Nepal will strongly call for enhanced and predictable support within the framework of strengthened global partnership for development for full, effective and timely implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs for the decade 2011-2020. We will stress that substantial progress in all eight priority areas will be essential to meet the overarching goal of the IPoA to enable at least the half number LDCs to reach the stage of graduation by the end of the current decade. Nepal will also underline the need for effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and continued support for the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) ahead of 2013 Review of the Programme. We will highlight the issues of transit, infrastructure building, connectivity and trade facilitation with a view to generating even stronger support for the LLDCs.
Nepal will make efforts to promote solidarity and understanding among LDCs and LLDCs to effectively advance collective interest of the respective groups in the United Nations and other multilateral fora. Nepal will remain committed to this objective whether be the Chair or not of the LDC.
Realizing the immense contribution of trade to development, Nepal will reiterate its principled position for a fair, just, rules-based, predictable and non-discriminatory and equitable international trading regime under WTO. We will renew our strong call for an early conclusion of Doha Round to ensure equitable development dividends to all. We will continue to make strong case for 100 % duty-free-quota-free market access in the developed-country markets to all products originating in all LDCs; simplified, predictable and transparent rules of origin; abolition of trade distorting subsidies and other non-tariff barriers; and the provision of an adequate support to overcome supply-side constraints and infrastructure bottlenecks. We will also call for increased access for LDC products in the markets of emerging economies and other developing countries.
Nepal will explore potential benefit from sustainable energy initiative mooted by the Secretary General to overcome energy deficit which is creating hindrances on economic development initiatives of the Government.
Nepal welcomes the growing profile of South in international political and economic affairs. Nepal is actively engaged in promoting mutually beneficial cooperation with neighbours, which are emerging as an economic powerhouse of the twenty-first century. We greatly admire substantial progress made by fellow developing countries in various fields. This has enlarged the scope for a meaningful south-south cooperation as a complement to but not a substitute for north-south cooperation, which is still crucial for our development efforts. South-south cooperation can be beneficial in the expansion of trade, investment, tourism, technology transfer and human resources development.
d. Rule of law, Human rights, empowerment of women, refugees
Nepal believes that human rights, rule of law and democracy are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing. We underline the adherence to and implementation of the rule of law at both national and international levels, together with the principles of justice and equality, is essential to ensuring peaceful existence and cooperation among countries. We call for the promotion of the rule of law at all levels to realize sustained economic growth, sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and hunger and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. International human rights jurisprudence has significantly expanded following the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Human rights agenda has gained new height with the establishment of Human Rights Council in 2006 as mandated by the World Summit Outcome, 2005 (60th session of UNGA). The expanding human rights jurisprudence and new robust institutional mechanism that is accompanying it have compelled us to increase our engagement with human rights issues and international human rights machinery.
Nepal’s commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms is strong which is well reflected in country’s interim constitution. Promotion and protection of human rights has received top priority in our national context. Nepal will reiterate its fundamental position that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and that a holistic approach, devoid of selectivity and double standard, should underpin the global discourse on human rights. We also call for an equal treatment to all human rights, including the right to development, which is so vital for the realization of development goals in developing and least developed countries.
Nepal will reiterate its commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women with a rights-based approach to social, economic and political empowerment. Ensuring gender equality and gender mainstreaming constitutes one of our top priorities as enshrined in the Interim Constitution of Nepal. We will inform the international community of various policy and institutional measures that we have taken for the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of women, including their effective inclusion in the development mainstream. We have been sincerely implementing the Beijing Action Plan and the National Action Plan on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. We have been making progress in reducing maternal and child mortality rates. We will highlight our National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 and the necessary steps taken to implement it with the active participation of all stakeholders and support from the development partners, including the United Nations. Nepal’s experience in this field could be useful for other countries to emulate.
Nepal respects the right of the refugees to return to their homeland with dignity and honour as a durable solution to the problem. Nepal is against the notion of local integration of refugees in its territory. Though not a party to any refugees related international instruments, Nepal has been providing shelter to a large number of refugees on humanitarian ground. We fully honour the rights of the refugees and expect them to respect our national laws and foreign policy sensitivities by refraining from activities that are hostile to our neighbours and other friendly countries. It is also an obvious fact and needs to be clarified whenever necessary that illegal border crossing into the territory of any country is not necessarily the refugee phenomenon.
Other agenda items such as money laundering, corruption, transnational organized crimes, drug control, human trafficking, international migration, disaster mitigation and management, humanitarian relief, HIV/Aids will also be important issues to be discussed in the 67th UNGA.
e. Global Governance, UN reform, new international economic architecture
Proliferation of problems of global scale, such as economic and financial crisis, food and fuel crisis and other problems of trans-boundary nature call for multilateral solutions. We firmly believe in the central and indispensable role of the United Nations in setting universal norms and values and addressing the burning global issues and challenges confronting all of us through consensus, collaboration and cooperation. The UN is rightly placed to fulfill this responsibility because of its universal standing.
Globalization with its increasing pace has availed us the opportunities of using all global resources and potential for the benefit of whole humankind. But it is also clear that today it is not as it had to be and it could be. The UN can and should contribute more to this direction so that we can move towards just, humane, equitable new world order. We have consistently called for a stronger United Nations that is capable of utilizing its full potential to deliver on its mandated responsibilities, especially in forging international cooperation for economic development and social progress, peace and security, and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in a more coherent manner.
We stand for meaningful reform in the United Nations system to make it more accountable, effective and responsive to global problems. The reform should mirror the contemporary realities which are vastly different from those of the founding years of the organization. The reform agenda of the United Nations should include expansion of Security Council, revitalization of the General Assembly, strengthening of ECOSOC and promoting system-wide coherence through strengthening of governance and funding system of operational activities.
Nepal has consistently maintained that the UN General Assembly as the UN’s principal deliberative and legislative body needs to be further strengthened. Nepal supports the revitalization of the General Assembly and is in favour of improvements in its role as central decision-making body.
Nepal holds the view that membership of the Security Council should be expanded in both permanent and non-permanent categories to reflect the reality of the contemporary world. Nepal holds the view that small and least developed countries like ours, which have also made substantial contribution in the maintenance of international peace and security through continued participation in UN peacekeeping operations, the primary responsibility of the Security Council under the Charter, should be duly represented in the Council. Nepal firmly supports the improvement in the present working methods of the Security Council to make it more transparent, accountable and inclusive in consideration of the Council agenda.
Nepal underlines the imperative need for accommodating the voice and concerns of all countries, including the poorest and the most vulnerable, in all decision-making process with a view to ensuring global legitimacy and inclusion based on democratic and participatory process. In the similar vein, we call for fundamental, urgent and comprehensive restricting of and reform in global economic, financial and monetary architecture to overcome democratic deficit by removing structural deficiencies and uprooting entrenched inequalities generated and sustained by unequal pattern of international economic relations over the years. This is essential to make globalization working for all especially through supportive and enabling measures to promote development in an equitable manner.
In addition to the issues highlighted above, Nepal will take active part in many other high-level events that the Secretary- General of the United Nations will be hosting during the 67th session of the UNGA. These include a high-level meeting on sustainable energy for all, the launch of the Global Initiative on Education; a high-level event on polio eradication; a high-level meeting on scaling up Nutrition ( Nepal is one of the 27 lead members of Scaling-up Nutrition) ; and a high-level meeting on countering nuclear terrorism, with a focus on strengthening the legal framework.
In conclusion, Nepal’s foreign policy has been guided, among others, by the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. This gives the United Nations a special place in the implementation of our foreign policy and conduct of diplomacy. We firmly believe that multilateral institutions better serve the interest of the poor and vulnerable segment of the international community by accommodating their concerns, needs and aspirations. Multilateral fora also provide us with an opportunity to play our active role commensurate with our capacity in the collective interest of the international community. It is in this spirit Nepal always stands for a strong and effective United Nations. My participation in the 67th UNGA as the leader of the Nepalese delegation will help reinforce our firm faith in multilateralism and our strong commitment to the principles and the purposes of the UN charter. I wish this event all success.