Seminar on “Foreign Policy of Nepal: Enhancing Effective Participation of Nepal in Regional and International Systems” 14 June, 2013

Address by Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Madhav P. Ghimire at a seminar on ‘Foreign Policy of Nepal: Enhancing Effective Participation in Regional and International Systems’ jointly organized by Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Kathmandu on 14th June 2013

Chairperson of the Inaugural Session
Distinguished Paper Presenters and Commentators
Distinguished Participants
Friends from the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel delighted to be here with you this morning and share my view on an important topic of much relevance to Nepal. I would like to appreciate the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for jointly organizing this seminar. In a regionalized and interdependent world we are living in today, the future of our nation, particularly its security, peace, and prosperity, depends upon how effectively we can integrate our economy and the people into the modern economy of the world in a spirit of partnership and cooperation. Our success depends upon how we can organize ourselves with effective policies and institutions and a commitment to good governance, rule of law, justice, inclusiveness and equality in order to draw attention of the international community positively towards our interests and concerns. Our foreign policy goals and priorities cut across several issues on the domestic front and transcend the border to project our national interests abroad through various interlocutors, forums and mechanisms. A deeper understanding of the outside world and the emerging issues, scenarios and challenges in relation to our own situation and defined national interests, puts us at ease in matching the common interests to ensure our share of the pie in the global play.

The core values of our foreign policy which have found eloquent expression in the Constitution are independent of the changing context of time. The nation as a whole should mould itself into a behavior in conformity with these values and ensure our dealings with the outside world, including the neighbors, accordingly, not only at the diplomatic level but at all levels of interactions in the international field. Safeguarding sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the country have strong correlation with faithful adherence to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, the principles of international law, the values of non-alignment and maintaining an equal distance, coherent and consistent relationships with the neighbors. This also calls for promoting peace and security on an institutionalized basis regionally and globally to ensure mutual support and cooperation with all countries of the world.

The socio-economic landscape of the world is changing. More and more countries of the world are coming together in strengthened partnerships under various regional and international forums and mechanisms to advance mutual interests. Advancement in science, technology and innovation and their increased diffusion into the society across the world have enhanced prospects for shared progress and prosperity. At the same time, unsustainable consumption and production practices, continued existence of abject poverty, coupled with pervasive inequality and discrimination, as well as poor observance of the rule of law and good governance have brought unprecedented challenges putting serious questions to sustainable development. The world has witnessed food, fuel and financial crises and their insidious impact on global order, including the brunt of these crises on the poorer segment of the populace. The manifestation of climate change and increased frequencies and magnitudes of disasters have heightened vulnerability and posed threats to safeguarding the developmental gains achieved so far. That is why an imperative lies before the world community to work together for a common destiny. There is a growing emphasis on ‘one world: one sustainable development agenda’ and ensuring inclusiveness of all human societies in the process, irrespective or their level of development. Integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development–economic development, social development and environmental protection, and eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the earth in pursuit of shared prosperity, have moved to the centre stage of the development discourse.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nepal is passing through a transition from conflict to sustainable peace, and the primary responsibility of achieving socio-economic transformation as desired by the people lies with the State itself. Since we have a limited productive capacity, we have been actively promoting partnerships with the international community to sustain our development efforts. There are internationally agreed development goals and programs of actions specifically designed to overcome the structural difficulties faced by the LDC and LLDCs like Nepal, and we should be able to take full advantage of these available opportunities, enhancing our negotiating power and level of contacts and interactions in the outside world at the bilateral, regional and global levels. Nepal mist work hard to eradicate poverty, hunger and deprivation – the potential reasons for conflict – by mobilizing all available resources at its disposal. In order to carry on a sustained and robust poverty eradication effort, we need to aim at a broad-based inclusive and strong economic growth along a sustainable path.

It is high time to mainstream the set priorities of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the decade of 2011-20, the internationally agreed sustainable development agenda for the LDCs, into our national plans and strategies and move forward for achievement of the overarching goal of graduating into a middle income country. It is necessary to ensure scaled-up support from the UN and international organizations, international financial institutions, funds and programmes, regional organizations as well as all bilateral development partners in order to graduated Nepal from the LDC category by 2022 as per a recent decision of the Government of Nepal. Henceforth, our aim should be to enhance productive capacity of the economy through structural transformation, overcoming the inherent constraints as well as mitigating the risks and vulnerabilities.

Concerted efforts based on partnership, good governance and rule of law are required to increase the productive capacity and create an atmosphere for a stronger inclusive growth and development. For this, durable peace, pragmatic policy and strong democratic political institutions that can deliver to the people are prerequisite conditions. Holding free and fair elections to a new Constitution Assembly that can finish the constitution-writing and the remaining task of the peace process in order to pave the way for a transformed Nepal, is therefore the paramount responsibility of the present Government, which we are committed to fulfill by November this year after making all necessary preparations.

Mr. Chairman,

Many problems confronting the global society today transcend the national borders, There are many prospects of development which can be better harnessed for the benefit of human beings through synergy, cooperation and collaboration at the regional and international levels. This is the way of the rapidly globalizing and interdependent world, but it is not smooth at all.

International and regional systems are the creations of the nation-states on a voluntary basis for fulfillment of mutual interests. Through them, important milestones have been achieved in advancing the causes of peace and security, development and human rights at a global scale. However, the international system represented by heterogeneous group of countries with diverse interests is not perfect. I think that the best way to maximize benefits from such a system is to remain watchful to the opportunities at stake and be responsive to them with informed choices.

As diplomacy is the main tool of implementing foreign policy abroad, those who handle them should be armed with requisite knowledge and experience as well as good negotiation and coordination skills. Training and grooming of the Foreign Ministry cadres with a view to developing them into professional and responsive diplomats capable of representing the State efficiently and effectively in their accredited workplaces, has increasingly come to our attention. I believe that only experienced diplomats with insights and acumen can better represent the interests o Nepal in the international arena. We are currently engaged in reviewing relevant parts of the foreign policy and the conduct of diplomacy for greater clarity, coherence and consistency so that overall capacity of the State in these important sectors could be improved. And, in this respect, we will be filling all the vacant ambassadorial positions abroad as early as possible.

Foreign policy can be carried out successfully when an array of stakeholders, including the Government line agencies, the non-government agencies, the private sector and the civil society organizations work in a continuum from domestic to the international fields coherently and consistently. Pursuing our national interests through the defined areas of economic diplomacy, namely promotion of foreign aid, international trade, tourism, foreign employment and foreign investments, demands a strong culture of working in tandem for results and achievements.

We repose an unflinching faith in the UN Charter and believe in the centrality and indispensability of the United Nations as the global multilateral organization for maintaining global peace and security, shaping the global development agenda and ensuring human rights, freedom and liberty to all the people of the world. We have been contributing troops to the peacekeeping missions since the very beginning. Our commitment to responding to any call for increased troops and serving with high degree of professionalism in peacekeeping operations should remain unabated in the future. This will provide good exposure to our national army personnel and earn respect for the country. Nepal should strive for greater role and increased memberships in the various UN organs, funds, programmes and treaty bodies to articulate its interests and concerns on one hand, and contribute to the global common endeavour on the other. From Nepal’s point of view, the development concerns of mountain areas, full implementation of Istanbul Programme of Action, improvement of connectivity and transit transport and trade facilitation, eradication of extreme poverty and mitigation of and resilience to vulnerability of climate change and disasters, should be inclusively and adequately reflected in the post-2015 development agenda. After all, these are the questions of inclusiveness, equity and justice. We call for special and differential treatment to the LDCs in accordance with their unique problems and challenges.

Being a member of the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO, we need to derive all the benefits which we deserve in our capacity as an LDC. The role of the international and regional financial institutions in providing the much-needed development finance is crucial for Nepal in taking a forward momentum towards the goal of graduation. We need to create a stronger voice through the Group of 77 plus China as well as the Group of LDCs for an early harvest of the Doha Development Round for the least developed countries, allowing a clear and predictable duty free and quota free market access to the goods and services of the LDCs, ensuring a futy6 waiver in services of the LDCs and an extension of the TRIPS for the LDCs until their status is changed.

Nepal believes that regional cooperation and regional integration of relevant policies, institutions and infrastructure create synergy for enlarging the dimension of economic development and promotion of trade. This will lead to increased prosperity and well being of the people. As member of SAARC and BIMSTEC, Nepal is committed to contribute to the regional cooperation process in all possible areas, including the improvement of infrastructure connectivity, increasing the volume of trade, tourism and investment, enhancing socio-economic progress and promoting culture and people-to-people contacts. Nepal is poised to host the SAARC and BIMSTEC Summits when the turn comes over its shoulder in the future. We also keep an open mind to join other burgeoning regional organizations in and around our region, which include Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Asia Cooperation Dialogue and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM). We are in favour of promoting South-South and triangular cooperation for enhanced flow of funds, modern technology and resources to ensure a strong, resilient and sustainable development.

In conclusion, as we embark on the next budgetary and planning cycles, we will have to face twin challenges. The first one is completing the peace and constitution drafting processes after holding free and fair elections to the Constituent Assembly. The second challenge is to revitalize the economic growth rate and try to restore it to around seven percent in the coming fiscal year, and hopefully more in the future, for taking momentum towards graduation. Nepal has established cooperative relations with several countries of the world at the bilateral, regional and international levels. As poor country mired in poverty and emerging from conflict, Nepal is in need of bringing greater clarity, consistency and coherence into its foreign policy and gearing its diplomacy for better performance and results to serve the best interests of the nation. We need to develop and institutionalize a clear view of the benefits we can derive by being party to the ever-evolving international and regional systems and the obligations created thereof. The situation calls for increasing the capacity of all stakeholders involved in the successful implementation of our foreign policy and economic diplomacy.

I thank you all for your kind attention !

 

Speech by Executive Directors Seminar on Foreign Policy of Nepal: Enhancing Effective Participation of Nepal in Regional and International Systems June 14, 2013 (Jestha 31, 2070), Kathmandu

Thank you Khush jee,

A very good morning to all of you.

Hon. Foreign and Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Madhav Prasad Ghimire
Secretary, Foreign Ministry, Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai
Former Minister and Ambassador Dr. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa
Former Ambassador Dr. Lok Raj Baral, Madhuraman Acharya, Dinesh Bhattarai
Eminent personalities in the field of Foreign relations, Economy, Business, Diplomacy and Academicians
Paper presenters, Chairpersons and Commentators
Representatives from political parties and Friends from media
Colleagues from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other Ministries, All other invited guests and my co-workers from the Institute of Foreign Affairs
I am thankful to all of you to have come to participate in this important seminar on our request inspite of your busy schedule.
I thank Hon. Minister of Foreign and Home Affairs for his eloquent thought provoking ideas on the theme of the seminar and for setting the tone for the following two sessions.
Nepal has been contributing to the working of the present systems both regional and global. However, these systems are crucial and are in need of greater attention to keep it more enduring with justice and peace reigning supreme in the world.
We all say that diplomacy reflects the overall situation of the country and currently the country is caught in the quagmire of political instability. Thus far the painfully prolonged political transition has sapped her strength and energy. However, the political scenario on the domestic front is now developing in a positive direction with a promise of the most likely holding of the democratic elections in a few months’ time.
Nepal has sought and received much technical, financial and policy advisory support from various UN agencies in different sectors.
Inspite of odds at home Nepal has been involved in many agencies and initiatives of UN such as Coordinator of the LDCs in UNFCC; Under-Secretary General/High Representative for the UN Office of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDs; Chairmanship of Global Coordination Bureau of LDCs for the year of 2010-2012 and coordinated the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs which adopted the Istanbul Program of Action (IPOA) for the period of 2011-2020; member of ECOSOC; peace-keeping etc.

Nepal needs to focus more on:

Participate effectively and pro-actively both in the international and regional systems.
A greater need is felt to streamline Nepal’s participation to strengthen its presence in the UN System by making our accredited missions to the UN System more sensitive, smart and proactive.
Prepare to get into the mainstream of the fast moving globalization process to ascertain benefits, especially in the areas of finance and economy.
Find out the reasons of the decline of peace keeping position from 4th to 8th and recommend steps and advices to regain the lost position.
Nepal needs to continue participating in NAM movement with seriousness and purpose as one of the founding member-states at this juncture as the significance of the movement has visibly declined after the end of the Cold War.
Nepal as a coordinator of the least-developed countries should make its efforts to make the G20 listen to the justified and judicious needs and demands of this group of nations.
Nepal had the lead role in the formative period of SAARC. It should continue to activate its present state of inability to move on to fulfill the wishes of its founding fathers to bring peace and prosperity, leading to sustained stability and security in the region.
It is suggested that Nepal plays more pro-active role in currently passive BIMSTEC.
Similarly we should endeavor to be admitted as observer status to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as all our neighbors have become either as observer member or dialogue partner.
Nepal’s presence should also be enhanced in other high level Asian forum like Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).
As a coordinator of the LDCs Nepal should take the lead in the group of “77 and play a vital role to get the UN resolutions passed for the betterment of the above countries.
Nepal’s role in the Bretton Wood institutions, ADB and other international financial institutions should be enhanced so as to augment the resources for Nepal’s development efforts.
Our role and domestic preparation for WTO needs to be more active to advance our trade and commercial interests and there is need to explore ways to derive benefits provided to the LDCs and LLDCs.
Nepal urgently needs to increase staffing at our missions abroad, and greater use of NRN resources
We urgently need to upgrade our embassies together with clear cut guidance, ambitious goals, accountability for results and encouragement for innovation and creativity so that our brightest and highly competent ambassadors and seasoned diplomats end up performing well.
A well equipped and resourceful “Think Tank” is also a pressing need to give the Ministry of Foreign Affairs essential feedback on the current trend of the bilateral, regional and global relationships and affairs.
An effective and well organized training centre must be put in place to infuse and equip both new and senior diplomats and officials with valued ideas and fresh thinking on matters of foreign policy and diplomacy which are highly useful and beneficial. This requires to revamping, broadening and strengthening the existing Institute of Foreign Affairs.

THANK YOU

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