The Council probably is the oldest think-tank in Nepal to deliberate on foreign policy and other issues of global concerns. There was a time when everyone would look upon the Council to host talks of distinguished foreign dignitaries or deliberate on the pertinent issues of foreign relations that bear importance to Nepal. While it is a matter of satisfaction to see the Council surviving for 70 long years, it is also befitting to expect the Council thriving both in terms of quality of deliberations and inclusiveness in its membership. The Council should be able to attract interests among the young and dynamic generation for it to further grow and contribute to fulfill its founding objectives.
As guided by the Constitution of Nepal, the principles of the UN Charter, Panchasheel, international law and the norms of world peace continue to inspire the conduct of our foreign policy. We pursue an independent foreign policy based on our national interest. Friendship with all and animosity with none has remained the hallmark of our engagements in the comity of nations. Sovereign equality, mutuality of interest, justice and mutual respect provide the basis for the conduct of our international relations. Informed by these universally accepted norms of inter-state relations, we have steadily expanded our diplomatic outreach to 161 countries of the world that constitutes over 80 percent of UN membership.
The present Government attaches high importance to the socio-economic development of the country which is key to sustaining peace and stability, and enhancing quality of life of our people. Our desire to attain a decent level of prosperity in short run and sustaining of the gains for longer term development of the country is informed by the need and aspiration of our people for achieving economic transformation in our own life time. This resolve of the nation is well reflected in the policy and programs of the Government for the current fiscal year which is aimed at building a foundation for the coming five years.
With a view to realize those objectives, it has been our priority to mobilize all the resources at our disposal, including our diplomatic apparatus. We have emphasized on promoting economic development agendas through strategic pursuit of economic diplomacy. Garnering international support for economic development and promoting foreign direct investment, tourism, technology transfer, and export trade are some of the important areas that we would like our diplomatic machinery to focus on to complement the national development objective.
Nepal's neighborhood provides opportunities for expanding economic linkages. We enjoy cordial and friendly relations with both of our immediate neighbors. We continue to build mutual trust and goodwill and promote cooperative relations with them. Regular exchange of high level visits and increasing people to people contacts have further strengthened these relations and deepened the spirit of cooperation. Nepal stands committed not to allow her soil to be used by any undesired element against the interest of our neighbors and we expect similar sensitivity accorded by our neighbors on the maters of our concern.
Nepal and India enjoy historically close and multi-faceted relations. These relations are nurtured by extensive people level contacts and socio-cultural bonds that we share for centuries. The exchange of visits by the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India in April and May this year has contributed to further enhance mutual trust and consolidate bilateral relations. Our two countries are committed to take forward cooperation and partnership on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and mutual benefit. We have agreed to advance cooperation in the core areas of agriculture, railway linkages and inland waterways. While focusing on effective implementation of all the past agreements and understandings, we have intensified engagements for addressing the outstanding matters by September 2018. The bilateral oversight mechanism established in September 2016 has proved to be a useful means to accelerate the progress in the implementation of development projects and address the issues that come up during the process. The Eminent Persons Group has concluded its mandated task and we are anticipating submission of the report soon.
Nepal and China enjoy a long history of close and cordial relationship, which is based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence. Appreciation of each other’s aspirations as well as respect for each other’s concerns and sensitivities has injected an important element of trust in our relationship. Nepal remains fully committed to one China policy. We admire China’s neighborhood diplomacy guided by the principles of sincerity, amity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.
The recent official visit to China by the Prime Minister of Nepal remained fruitful in further strengthening the friendly relations. We have agreed to intensify implementation of MoU on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance connectivity. The cooperation covers building of dry ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications network within the framework of Trans-Himalaya Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. We believe that this will open up a new era of cross-border cooperation and foster trade, commerce and investment.
Equally important is our relations with the friendly countries in our extended neighborhood and the labour receiving countries. We have been closely working together and engaged extensively with these important partners for the safety, security and well being of our migrant workers. We are keen to expand this relationship in the broader areas of economic partnership to promote trade, tourism, investment and people to people contacts for mutual benefit. Nepal also currently chairs the Colombo Process, a Regional Consultative Process on migration comprising 12 Asian labour sending countries. Nepal's emphasis continues to be on the issues related to decent work, ethical recruitment, welfare of migrants including female workers, consular support and cooperation, financial literacy, and labor market assessment.
Nepal's extended neighborhood also manifests itself through regional organizations such as SAARC and BIMSTEC. As you are well aware, Nepal is the current chair of both these organizations and continues to work together with fellow Member States to further accelerate these regional processes for achieving regional economic cooperation. Nepal is hosting the 4th BIMSTEC Summit towards the end of this month. We are engaged with other Member States to revive the stalled SAARC process. Our association with the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) has allowed us to be linked with our friends stretching all sub-regions of Asia. We are seeking observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to which we are a dialogue partner now. These regional bonds have kept growing and we believe that together with our bilateral initiatives, they will help us in our pursuit of economic development and prosperity.
Our relations with our development partners have been a very important part of our foreign relations. We attach high importance to our relations with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the European Union and its member States, and our traditional donor and development partners. This relationship has remained cordial and cooperative both in bilateral fronts as well as in multilateral arena. Some of these partners have been the longest companions of our journey to economic development and modernization. We are grateful for their steadfast support and cooperation over the years, and we expect enhanced level of economic partnership to drive our mission of economic development and prosperity. We believe that there is a tremendous potential for expanding partnership in the areas of trade, investment and technology transfer. We have a common understanding with our development partners to multiply the existing success stories of development cooperation through the alignment of development assistance with our national priorities and to build synergetic effects in development. It has been our common goal to ensure that development assistance provides desired results.
Nepal remains actively engaged in the multilateral arena, including at the United Nations. Our faith in the principles and purposes of the UN Charter is unwavering and our belief in multilateralism remains consistent. We consider United Nations as an indispensible organization to deliberate upon and resolve the global issues of common concern. We support the UN reform initiatives to provide equal emphasis on all three pillars- peace and security, development and human rights, and to make the world body more efficient, effective and responsive to the need of our time. We continue to maintain principled and independent position on major issues of global concern. We support total and complete disarmament, especially of all weapons of mass destruction. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We support peaceful settlement of all international disputes and consider diplomacy and dialogue as the most legitimate means of reducing differences and resolving conflicts. We continue to firmly support the Paris Convention on Climate Change. As a member of the World Trade Organization, we stand in support of rule-based international trading system with special and differentiated treatment to the LDCs and LLDCs in particular. We consider the relevance and importance of the non-aligned movement as a principle continues even today.
Nepal has contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security through its effective participation in UN mandated peacekeeping operations for past six decades. Currently, Nepal stands 6th largest troop and police contributing country to the UN peace operations. The ultimate sacrifice made by 73 of our brave peacekeepers in the line of duty exemplifies our commitment to the cause of world peace. Nepali peacekeepers have proven their competence as the most professional and dedicated savior of peace and humanitarian protection. To reinforce our commitment to the protection of civilians, we have endorsed the Kigali principles and have joined the UN Secretary General's Voluntary Compact against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
Besides contributing to UN peace operations, Nepal has its own unique experience of peaceful transformation from armed conflict to peace and democracy. Our uniquely successful, nationally owned and home-grown peace process provides a case study for countries in transition and those going through conflict. The Constitution of Nepal which incorporates the most progressive provisions of social justice, inclusive democracy and fundamental rights is the outcome of that successful peace process. Our experience can be useful for them how a nationally owned peace process can lead to a success. We are keen to share this unique experience for the benefit of larger humanity.
Nepal's active advocacy for the cause of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS and our solidarity and co-operation with these countries remain important part of our multilateral engagements. Under UN's initiative, Nepal Chaired and led the 4th LDC Conference in Istanbul in 2011. Nepal remains steadfast in its calls for the effective implementation of all relevant international agreements to address the specific development needs of the countries in special situation.
We have set a goal of graduating from the LDC status at the earliest feasible time. The triennial review conducted by the UN Committee on Development Policy has concluded that Nepal meets two out of three criteria for the graduation. We are committed to raise the third and the most important criteria, the per capita income, to a decent level so that we could steer through the graduation in a smooth and sustainable manner.
Nepal actively contributed to the negotiation of sustainable development goals (SDG). We were the first country to prepare national plan of action for their implementation. We have fully aligned our national development plans with the SDGs to comprehensively address the issues of poverty and under-development and not to leave anyone behind in the process.
Our commitment to democracy, pluralism and the universal values of human rights and fundamental freedoms is unwavering. Those were the ideals for which we fought for seven decades. We hold them dear and do not 'take them for granted'. This commitment is translated in our role in the Human Rights Council, where we remain a member for the term 2018-20 and have also announced our bid for re-election to the Council. Nepal's role at the Council reflects our position for apolitical and objective examination of human rights issues on non-selective, even-handed and merit basis. We stand for a system that is transparent, accountable and embraces universally accepted democratic values.
Nepal is a party to 24 international human rights related instruments, and 7 out of 9 core human rights instruments. We continue to faithfully engage with the relevant human rights mechanisms such as the UPR process and the Special Procedures mechanism and treaty bodies. Given the level of economic development and capacity of the country, our undertaking of international human rights obligations remains among the top. We consider that by attaining economic development and providing means for implementation of human rights obligations can substantially enable the enjoyment of human rights by all.
As you all are aware that we have just come out of long and painful conflict and protracted peace process. As we are focused in the reconciliation and healing process of the post-conflict society, we are equally sensitive and committed to avoidance of impunity and ensure justice to the victims.