Nepal’s contribution to the world started before the establishment of the United Nations, the Nepal-Britain Treaty signed in 1923 was the first formal acknowledgement of Nepal as an independent nation by the British. The League of Nations in 1925 further recognized that Nepal had the right to conduct its own foreign policy.
Within the South Asia region, historically we played a supportive role in the ‘Quit India Movement’ in 1942 for the independence of India. In the last half century or so we have been active members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Non Alignment Movement (NAM). Furthermore, Nepal is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and so on. Although these organizations and movements are at different trajectories of their evolution, there is space for Nepal to work actively towards contributing through these organizations and collaborate with regional and multilateral organizations.
Nepal shares cordial relations with its immediate neighbors and others across the region. However, we have some agendas with India that need to be resolved in a diplomatic way and relations with other countries are also limited to basic diplomatic relations. In order to resolve existing issues and develop mutually beneficial relationships across the region, we require visionary leadership from people in positions of power and influence. We require bilateral dialogues and historical evidences based on persuasion tactics. Similarly, better relationship across the region require proactive high level state visits intended to further both national and regional interest. The leaders on both sides of our border have provided ample examples of such practices.
On multilateral forums, we have the opportunity to make our votes count. Climate change is an issue that holds great relevance to Nepal as a country. The Himalayan range and our multitude of rivers have already started to feel the impact of the global climate change. We can use our voices in the multilateral venues to raise our concerns over the disproportionate impact of climate change and rally other smaller nations to build international pressure. Efforts such as the “Sagarmatha Sambad” started by the Oli government could be used as a first step in this direction.
Despite their differences, a few years back our neighbours, India and China agreed to come together and collaborate in the interest of realizing and furthering the Asian century. We can use our geographic advantage to carve our own niche contribution towards the realization of the Asian century. From reviving SAARC to acting as a conduit between China and India, the possibilities are ripe for the picking. If our political leadership rise above their personal and party interests, there is no reason why this cannot become a reality.
Dr. Anjan Shakya
Dr. Anjan Shakya is the former ambassador to Israel and former Deputy Executive Director of Institute of Foreign Affair at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal.
This blog has been written based on an interview.