Mention neighbourhood policy: MoFA


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suggested that special mention about the country’s ‘neighbourhood policy’ be made in the new constitution.

Giving its inputs on the preliminary draft of the new statute, MoFA suggested that the country ‘shall pursue its relations with neighbours based on sovereign equality and reciprocity, but the country shall not align one neighbour against another’.

“As our neighbours have also put special emphasis on their relations with Nepal, we have also suggested special emphasis on our relations with them,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey told The Himalayan Times, after submitting MoFA’s suggestions on the draft constitution to Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Chandra Nembang this evening.

According to Minister Pandey, MoFA, which executes the country’s foreign policy, also stated that the country’s foreign policy should be aligned with the national security policy ‘as these are interrelated’.

The country’s relations with other friendly countries and multilateral as well as regional organisations must be mentioned in the charter, according to MoFA.  Unlike the Interim Constitution 2007, in the draft constitution, public feedback process on which completed yesterday, there is no mention of Nepal’s policy towards its neighbours.

MoFA, in its suggestions, has also stated that the foreign policy conduct shall be within the exclusive purview of the federal government and has sought its role in managing the federal states’ diplomatic codes and etiquettes.

According to a MoFA official, the ministry has also asked to put ‘foreign policy’ on priority order — right after the security policy and economy among the list of State Policies. Foreign policy has been mentioned at the last part of State Policies in Article 55 of the draft constitution.

Some corrections have also been sought in some redundancies regarding the country’s policy while receiving foreign assistance and signing treaties and agreements with other countries or organisations. Article 55 (m,2) of the proposed draft states that ‘treaties and agreements shall be entered into based on equality and mutual benefits by reviewing the treaties concluded in the past’.

Likewise, Article 55 (d, 11) reads that foreign aid shall be based on national needs and priority, and it shall be made transparent. The amount received as foreign aid shall be included in the national budget. The ministry suggested that phrases such as ‘reviewing the treaties concluded in the past’ can be omitted and can be (re)phrased as ‘treaties shall be signed based on sovereign equality and reciprocity and to promote national interests’, said MoFA officials.

Likewise, it has suggested that it should be mentioned that foreign aid shall be mobilised on priority basis, based on the necessity and priority of the country.

Separately, Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Dinesh Bhattarai has also sent feedback on the draft.

Bhattarai told THT that it should be mentioned in the statute that Nepal shall maintain non-aligned policy with its two neighbours but shall execute policy of cooperation with both the countries.

He further suggested that Nepal shall have a ‘constructive engagement’ with all countries ‘in order to promote and achieve our national interest’.