Experts from the Nepal Council for Global Affairs (NCWA)
The members of the thematic committee International relations and economic diplomacy are of the opinion that international relations and economic diplomacy should be treated separately since they have been grouped together under the same theme, it was decided that it was necessary to establish the link between the two while preparing the final report on the work of the committee. Nepal has seen significant changes in its recent history. As part of this change in history, guided by the guiding principles of the new constitution “Nepal will pursue an independent foreign policy in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, Non-alignment, Panchasheel, International Law and World Peace Values.” There are also large-scale developments in the vicinity of Nepal and around the world. Therefore, the Central Himalayas, South Asia and Nepal are emerging as one of the epicenters of current regional transformations and the flow of global paradigms. In this time of transitional triumph and trauma, the greatest test of Nepalese scholarship, leadership and diplomacy is to understand the very significant but relatively less painful change in our history and to manage this internal political transition and these external relations in such a way as to strengthen our general national interest. This is the essence of our knowledge and understanding of contemporary international relations (IR), real change in foreign policy (FP), and the test of skill in conducting diplomacy.
The cardinal objective of a country’s foreign policy is the protection and preservation of its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The foundation of Nepal’s foreign policy is based on friendship with all and enmity with no one. The basic parameters of the country’s foreign policy, such as faith in the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of non-alignment, the Panchasheel or the five principles of peaceful coexistence, respect for international law and commitment to world peace are well defined in all constitutions, including the latest of September 20, 2015. While priority is given to strengthening relations with our immediate neighbors, developed and developing. Our priorities include greater visibility within the UN and other multilateral forums and institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, WTO, AIIB SAARC and BIMSTEC. Nepal should manage its external relations in such a way as to enhance and promote the overall national interest of the country.
There is a paradigm shift in international relations after the end of the Cold War in the late 80s of the last century. Economic diplomacy has been highlighted as a new dimension of Nepal’s foreign policy. Its objective is to influence the policies of the host country by projecting the economic interest of the country of origin. Globalization has increasingly made economic diplomacy an important factor in foreign policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is expected to play a leadership role and ensure effective coordination with other line ministries and the private sector in the formulation of economic development strategies and their prioritization. Importantly, MOFA needs to enhance the professionalism and capacity of its staff, improve communication with overseas missions, and address all external relations issues, including the economic diplomacy. The activities of the missions should be carefully monitored by the MOFA which in turn is supposed to help the missions achieve their targets and objectives.
Much depends on the country’s political leadership being able to identify key issues of national interest and build consensus to defend them. The implementation of policies agreed by consensus and the protection and promotion of vital national interests require the appointment of a team of committed and competent professionals. Far-reaching changes and developments are taking place in Nepal’s neighborhood and around the world. Given this reality, Nepal should be able to use its foreign policy for effective management of internal transition by bringing the current political process to its meaningful conclusion and directing change towards promoting the prosperity of the people.
Importance of foreign policy:
Foreign policy has always been a vital tool of Nepal’s statecraft, a test of political savvy. The nature of internal and external changes at this crucial time and place makes foreign policy based on a correct understanding of global developments even more important and diplomacy difficult. Dealing with simultaneously cooperating and competing regional and global superpowers, embroiled in their own internal upheavals in a changing global political and economic order and strategic equation, requires the ability to interpret available information with knowledge, understanding and experience. Old problems and new complexities seen through the eyes of outdated doctrines or vested interests distort understanding. The policies and actions motivated by them lead to disastrous consequences.
# The location and good relationship with the two neighbors offers unlimited potential for aid, trade, tourism, investment, technology and employment, but it also increases the challenge of managing the consequences of competing interests and cooperative actions.
# After 1990, Nepal could neither forge consensus on the national interest nor produce (groom) high caliber foreign policy figures with whom our regional and international partners felt they could speak with confidence. This situation has worsened under pressure from the Chinese BRI and the American Indo-Pacific strategy.
# Internal disputes and external interference undermine the national interest, undermine rather than support and promote people with potential.
# As a result, not only the post-1990 order collapsed “monarchical Nepal” collapsed. Republican Nepal faces equally if not more serious challenges.
# First and foremost, everything depends on our ability to put our house in order, implement the new constitutions, complete the remaining tasks of the peace process and lead the transition to a meaningful conclusion. Using FP for effective internal management of the transition, bringing the current political process to its meaningful conclusion, and linking the change to the prosperity of the people are the main tasks of our diplomacy at this stage of the political transition.
# A national philosophy of a traditionally diverse but rich civilization and culture, linking people of different ethnicities, languages and regions, should be the basis for strengthening internal unity and stability and the principle director of the collective external image and identity of Nepal, a tolerant, democratic and peace-loving society and still an independent country.
# A firm commitment and concrete action not to play any “cards” or allow our territory to be used against the fundamental interests of our two neighbors are the first essential steps to transform relations based on trust.
Pointless name-calling and finger-pointing only increase the risks of further external involvement in internal power competitions increasing our vulnerabilities.
# Consensus among key political actors on major issues of national interest and the ability to persuade can strengthen our quest for non-reciprocity due to the asymmetry in size and capacity of our two neighbours.
To quote Dr. Shambhu Ram Simkhada a prominent foreign relations expert“Nepal today stands at the most critical threshold in history and geography with huge opportunities but also seems risks to translate risks into opportunities. What Nepal needs is political leadership made up of wisdom and courage, assisted by strong institutions managed by a competent and committed foreign policy team. The correct formulation of the OP and the effective conduct of diplomacy will depend on many things, especially the capacity of the leaders politicians to identify key issues of national interest and build consensus to defend them.
Need for national consensus:
In a multiparty democracy, political parties naturally compete for power. But if domestic competition for power impinges on foreign and domestic security policies, it will negatively affect the national interest. When political party leaders are divided on many aspects of national importance and international affairs, to minimize risks, maximize opportunities, national consensus on foreign and national security policies acquires particular urgency. The relationship of trust with the two immediate neighbors is the most important aspect of this program. Proactive FP based on the principle of friendship with all enmity with none, development diplomacy, job opportunities for the growing number of educated youth, institution building related to understanding RI, formulations of FP and the selection of competent professionals and committed individuals for the effective conduct of our diplomacy are some of the other issues that remain valid today.
There may be several tools and approaches to analyzing FP. The use of the 3 is Nepal FP analysis tool can be discussed at three levels, identifying key issues of national concern, strengthening the institutions responsible for different aspects of FP and finally training, preparing and deploying the right people for its execution, the effective conduct of diplomacy. Identify key foreign policy issues and achieve consensus among key political actors that despite ideological differences or competition for national power, they will not compromise national interests or use foreign policy for domestic political purposes or for partisan, regional, community or individual gain. most important priority of this speech. Strengthening FP-related institutions and identifying, preparing, and placing the right people to implement policies and promote national interests are other key goals of this agenda.
Courtesy of text: “Nepal: Standing Up to Challenges at Home and Abroad: – a booklet published and written by the Nepal Council for World Affairs (NCWA).
Book Courtesy: Vice President, NCWA, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha.
# Hi to the entire NCWA executive team and authors involved in the preparation of the article: Ed. Upadhyaya.