My Government was formed following the people’s verdict in the November 2013 elections to the second Constituent Assembly (CA). The top priority of this government is to have a democratic constitution promulgated through the Constituent Assembly within a year. The Constituent Assembly has commenced its business in earnest, and necessary committees have been formed within the Assembly to expedite the constitution making process. The Government is engaged in fostering collaboration, cooperation and consensus among all stakeholders, and stands committed to extend all possible support in accomplishing this historic responsibility, and conclude the ongoing peace process.
In 2005, peace process was conceived in the framework of democracy, human rights, and development to free the country, people and democracy from the politics of guns and deprivation. GP Koirala, leader of the 2006 People’s Movement then said and I quote, ' Parties could have different principles, but they can stand together for national sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and to stop the ongoing bloodshed." Unquote. His leadership set a model for peaceful resolution of bloody armed conflict and made the historic transformation to republican order possible in a peaceful manner. Though we have not reached where we need to be today, our march to democratic pluralism remains irreversible. The march is guided by a fervent wish to institutionalize democracy that nobody can ever wrest under any pretext.
The peace accords firmly embed democratic norms and values including competitive multiparty democratic system of governance, civil liberties, fundamental human rights, independent judiciary, and the concept of rule of law and an inclusive and just society by ensuring proportional representation in various walks of national life. We are of the view that Nepal’s peace process can be a model for countries and societies elsewhere.
There have been important milestones set over the last nine years. The integration of qualified ex-combatants into the national army, and rehabilitation of the rest in society was unique of its own kind- thanks to the roles played and understanding shown to the gravity of the issue by all stakeholders.
It gives no pleasure to say that a decade long armed conflict in the country, repeated attempts by the monarchy to sabotage democratic institutions, and monopolize power amidst massive poverty and deprivation have shaken the confidence of the Nepali people. Restoring the lost hope and confidence of people and freeing them from fear, that ruled them for much of the past, through institutionalizing peace, democracy and development remain the pressing tasks for the government. It is encouraging to see the people demonstrating their unshakable faith in favor of liberal democracy and developmental politics. This gives the government the huge task of institutionalizing political pluralism and pursuing development activities.
The government has brought out a common minimum program for the smooth conduct of the Government business. This document outlines our common visions and priorities for a peaceful, stable, inclusive, federal democratic republic, and prosperous Nepal. It also reinforces the vision for a dignified, respectable, responsible, and committed Nepal in international arena.
In the direction towards concluding the peace process, the Legislature-Parliament has now passed a bill for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Commission of Enquiry into Disappearances to address the needs of transitional justice. This legislation, passed after extensive consultations and deliberations at various levels among stakeholders, has not deviated from the international standards as some tend to suggest. The bill is fully reflective of Nepal’s obligations under international human rights law.
Nepal’s commitment to human rights is total and unflinching. It needs to be acknowledged that a country, which is at the bottom rung of the development ladder, has chosen to become party to almost all international human rights instruments, including seven core instruments andembracing a right-based approach to development. In fact, Nepal has made significant advances in some areas, which have been recognized by the international community. This obligation emanates from our deep conviction and respect for human rights, for which we have fought whole of our life. We are aware that improvements are both possible and desirable in human rights situation. We remain firmly committed to making sustained efforts for the protection and promotion of all human rights under all circumstances. It is not the political will and commitment that is lacking; rather it is the resource constraints and multiple challenges of development that have put tremendous pressures on our efforts to ensure wider enjoyment of human rights by all.
We are fully conscious of the sensitivity and seriousness of the issues surrounding the transitional justice. We are not ignoring the crimes committed during the conflict. We are working to bring families, and society once torn apart back to life. We believe that peace and justice go together, never apart. The Government remains committed to ensure that the victims get justice, and the grave violators of human rights and humanitarian laws are brought to book. The bill aims to promote greater national unity and reconciliation in the spirit embedded in the peace accords and achieve the ultimate goal of peace and harmony as per the need and wish of the people of Nepal. As the bill is linked to the process of constitution writing, we feel that failure to conclude the peace process will have serious and long-term consequences for the country and our people. We must therefore exercise prudence at each step of our journey in transition to ensure that our political transformation remains smooth and democratic gains that have so far been achieved remain preserved, consolidated and institutionalized. We thank you for your understanding.
We greatly appreciate our neighbors, the United Nations and friends in the international community at large for their support to peace process and development endeavors. We also thank them for providing moral and material support that helped the conduct of CA elections last November in the most credible manner.
As we remain seriously engaged in the twin tasks of laying the foundation of political pluralism and constitutionalism and in bringing about inclusive socio-economic transformation to uplift our people from abject poverty, hunger and overall backwardness, we expect an enhanced level of goodwill, understanding, support and cooperation. We have a responsibility to ensure that all Nepalese citizens get fair opportunity to participate in political, social and cultural spheres in larger freedom and without any discrimination.
Recent years have witnessed the dispersal of geopolitical and economic power. We are happy to note that our great neighbors, India and China, remain the focus of the unprecedented transformation.
Our foreign policy priority begins with neighboring countries. We remain firmly committed to strengthen relations and widen areas of cooperation for mutual benefit. It has been our consistent policy not to let Nepalese territory used to the detriment of legitimate security interests of our neighbors.
Nepal's proximity to two powerful ancient civilizations, two fastest growing economies and rising global powers gives it a great future ahead and vast opportunities to translate the rich potentials of hydropower, agriculture, tourism, and diversity in the trans-Himalayan region into concrete advantages for common benefit.
However, in the midst of protracted political transition, Nepal remains untouched by the economic dynamism of its neighbors. Keeping people at the center of governance, we need to develop economically, and build democratic institutions. Located between two great powers of Asia, both developing rapidly, BP Koirala, the first elected Prime Minister of Nepal said andI quote, ‘‘Nepal cannot just stagnate, vegetate, and tucked away on the slopes of the Himalayas. We cannot just remain as a seventh century country. We have to develop. We must think in democratic terms.' End of quote. Based on pragmatism and ground realities, we wish to work closely with our neighbors for unlocking the dormant potentials for common benefit.
We will also remain focused and constructively engaged with our friends and development partners and all other countries to enhancing cooperation in mutually beneficial areas.
It is our expectation that our engagement with neighbors and other friendly countries will contribute to establishing peace, stability, democracy and prosperity in Nepal. We believe that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal is also in the interest of regional as well as global peace and stability.
Nepal is active in the pursuit of regional cooperation under SAARC and BIMSTEC. We have been working closely with fellow members to make these two organizations effective in achieving the goals and objectives of regional cooperation and integration. We believe that, given the abundance of resources, both natural and human in our regions, these organizations have great potentials to transform the economic landscape, making our regions vibrant zones of growth and development, and lifting people out of poverty and hunger.
I am delighted to share with you that Nepal is making necessary preparations to host the 18th SAARC Summit later this year. We will also be hosting the 4th BIMSTEC Summit meeting in future. During our chairmanship of these two important regional organizations, we will make efforts to widen and deepen cooperation in agreed areas with a view to delivering concrete results on the ground.
Globalization remains the defining issue of our time. The world is growing more interdependent, and interconnected. There are compelling reasons to collaborate and cooperate to address common problems and challenges. As a staunch believer in the purposes and principles of the United Nations, we underscore the centrality and indispensability of the United Nations in shaping the global agenda.
Nepal has been contributing its troops to peacekeeping operations in the troubled parts of the world for the maintenance of international peace and security. As one of the largest contributors of peacekeepers, we have responded to the calls by the UN even in the most difficult of situations. Nepal has also been playing an active role in promoting global development agenda and working in the interests of poor and vulnerable countries in the United Nations and other multilateral forums.
We underline the imperative need for full, timely and effective implementation of the Istanbul Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries to bring about visible improvements in the quality of life of our people. While we appreciate valuable support and assistance received from development partners, we expect the enhanced level of assistance and support to match our development needs and priorities, especially in view of our legitimate aspiration to graduate from LDC status by 2022. We have registered significant achievements in the Millennium Development Goals.
As the international community is currently engaged in defining sustainable development goals, we emphasize on a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. We are also of the view that the post-2015 development agenda must fully address the concerns and needs of poorest and most vulnerable countries with concrete ways and means to achieve them.
Nepal has been one of the worst victims of climate change. Consequences and impacts of climate change for a country like ours are highly disproportionate compared to our negligible share in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate justice needs to be ensured by translating the principle of common but differentiated responsibility into action. We stress that a balanced approach to both the mitigation and adaptation measures be undertaken by the international community. Failure to conclude a strong and legally binding instrument by 2015 will have deleterious consequences for all of us beyond comprehension. We must make sure that it is not too late before we take decisions to save planet including through the preservation of the world’s greatest mountains, their foothills and plains.
After a number of years of slow growth, the economy of Nepal has started to register a higher growth rate of over five percent this fiscal year. Nepal remains a virgin land for development. We pursue a liberal economic policy with private sector playing a key role in economic growth and development. The government is committed to creating conducive environment, including through necessary policy and institutional reforms, for attracting increased investments in infrastructure, power generation and its distribution, industrial growth, modernization and commercialization of the agriculture sector, and development of tourism among others. We appeal our neighbors, friends, well-wishers, and development partners to encourage their entrepreneurs to invest in productive sectors in Nepal by providing necessary incentives. Without robust economic growth and development, there can be no political stability, desired peace and stable democracy.
We have seen transformative power of trade. Trade is an engine of growth and instrument for poverty eradication. Nepal suffers from huge trade deficits, which make its international trade highly unsustainable. This alarming imbalance needs to be corrected to ensure good health of the national economy. I believe that Nepal can realize its trade prospects and potentials in cooperation and collaboration, through favorable support and preferential treatment from all of our trading partners, both developed and developing.
Human capital is most important resource of any economy. Our people are our great resources. Nepal has a young population. Lack of opportunities at home compels them to seek opportunities elsewhere. We desire to work with our neighbors and partners in the region and beyond to unleash dormant potentials of our vast natural resources and young, dynamic, and talented human power.
We consider democracy a reliable partner for peace, progress, stability, and prosperity. While we work towards institutionalizing peace, we need to build democracy from grass root levels. We are working to build democratic institutions and create local leadership. Democratic institutions alone help motivate people for development, and create an environment of trust and confidence in post conflict phase. They provide transparency and accountability in governance and ensure the optimum utilization of resources for common benefit.
Nepal stands at defining moment of its history. Time has come to realize democratic dividends for which we fought for decades. We do not have options but to make this country, a country of peace, stability, prosperity and dignity. A democratic constitution can alone ensure better future for all. The historic responsibility to promulgate a new constitution by the Constituent Assembly within a year must therefore succeed. As we stand firmly committed to this, we appeal for your continued goodwill, understanding and support in fulfilling this historic responsibility. Our success is also your success. Peace and stability in Nepal has a vital bearing in the stability, and security of our neighbors, region and the world at large.
Koirala is a prime minister of Nepal. Excerpts of the statement delivered at a program hosted in honor of Kathmandu-based Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Kathmandu.