Govt working to ensure effective role in UNHRC

Kathmandu, October 25

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started making preparations to ensure Nepal’s active and effective participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nepal was elected member of the UNHRC in the election held in New York on October 16 for the term 2018-2020. Nepal had secured 166 votes, the highest in the Asia-Pacific Group. The term of office of Nepal at the UNHRC begins on 1 January 2018 and ends on 31 December 2020.

UNHRC will have three regular sessions every year — in March, May and September. Several other meetings of various human rights mechanisms are also held round the year, such as three sessions of Universal Periodic Review and other peer reviews. To ensure Nepal’s active participation and contribution as a member of the UNHRC, the ministry is contemplating strengthening the Permanent Mission of Nepal in Geneva, which represents Nepal in the UN Office and World Trade Organisation based in Geneva, and around a dozen specialised UN organisations based in Geneva, Rome and Nairobi.

“Considering the additional responsibility and workload, we are holding consultations on boosting human and other resources at our Permanent Mission in Geneva,” said MoFA Spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal, who also heads the UN Division at the ministry.

To effectively fulfil the new responsibility, the government also needs to boost coordination among several government and other agencies concerned at home to come up with a uniform opinion. So what type of coordination mechanism at the headquarters should be set up is also being worked out, according to Paudyal.

The foreign ministry is also assessing how to mobilize resources, both human and financial, and at what scale. “We will definitely need additional resources to make our participation in UNHRC effective, so we are also working on that front,” said Paudyal, adding that the preparations were in preliminary phase and would take some time to complete.

The UNHRC membership gives Nepal an opportunity to share experiences of the unique and successful peace process with the world, and also learn from international peace practices. It is also an opportunity for Nepal to enhance its image in the international arena in terms of promotion and protection of human rights.

The UNHRC was established in 2006 by the UN General Assembly as its own subsidiary body, replacing the then Commission on Human Rights. The council comprises 47 members representing different geographic regions, including 13 from the Asia-Pacific. It is responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.