Foreign Policy of Nepal
In the 1950 Nepal changed its previous policy of isolation and opened up to the world and started making diplomatic relations with various nations with a policy of neutrality and non-alignment. Since then, the basic principles guiding the foreign policy of the country, the Panchasheel include – mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; respect for mutual equality; non-aggression and the peaceful settlement of disputes; and cooperation for mutual benefit. These principles are similar to the ones mentioned in Article 2 of the UN Charter. Nepal has established diplomatic relations with 133 countries in the world. It is an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the United Nations, its specialized agencies as well as other international organizations. Nepal is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The Interim Constitution of 2007 states that Nepal’s foreign policy will be guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, non-alignment, the Panchasheel, international law and the norms of world peace. The Ministry of Foreign affairs has stated that the fundamental objective of the foreign policy is to enhance the dignity of Nepal in the international arena by maintaining its sovereignty, integrity and independence of the country.
The basic aim of any foreign policy is to protect national interest with respect to the relationship with foreign states. In order to have an effective foreign policy all political forces within the nation will need to have a general consensus on issues of national interest. Nepal does not have a clear sense of what foreign policy to take besides the old principles of non-alignment and Panchasheel. The reason why Nepal has not made much of an impact with its foreign policy is that the governments have always been operating on partisan interests rather than the interests of the entire nation. Failures of past governments in protecting the national interests have been shown by the Bhutanese refugee crisis, Mahakali treaty, various encroachments in the Indo-Nepal border etc. Moreover, the 1950 treaty with India has been seen as unfair to Nepal and this issue has been raised many times internally but no representation has been made internationally. All this while Nepal has been unable to resolve its own internal issues and is struggling to maintain its dignity hence is far from making an impact in the region where India and China are still the biggest players. Nepal’s relation with the west has not changed much but the increasing influence. Though developmental aid has been coming in, continued political downturns in the country might disappoint the donor agencies and nations.
The basic principles guiding the foreign relation of the country include:
- Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty;
- Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
- Respect for mutual equality
- Non-aggression and the peaceful settlement of disputes
- Cooperation for mutual benefit
It does not appear that Nepal’s foreign policy will change much over time. But in this transitional period when both India and China are looking to assert their influence in Nepal, the nation must develop a clear understanding of national interest so most can be made of the longstanding relationships with our two friendly neighbors without compromising our sovereignty and independent decision making.
References and Works Cited
- UN Charter
- Charter of the SAARC
- International Treaties to which Nepal is a party.