Kathmandu, January 18

Nepal has been urged to join the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) -- a group of nations mostly comprising former British colonies.

Presenting his paper on Nepal’s prospects of joining the CoN, former Finance Minister Madhukar SJB Rana today said Nepal meets the criteria of being a CoN member.

He said it was not necessary to be a former British colony to acquire CoN membership as countries like Mozambique and Rwanda, which were never ruled by the British, are also among its 53 member-states.

Even though it was a part of the former British Empire, Myanmar has chosen not to be a CoN member.

Formerly known as the British Commonwealth, it is now only the Commonwealth of Nations. It also allows membership to countries other than former British colonies, though the queen of England Elizabeth II is the Head of CoN and its secretariat is in London.

The former minister referred to Nepal’s proposal of becoming a part of CoN in the mid-1990s and urged the concerned stakeholders to take up this issue now as Nepal and the UK are celebrating the bicentennial of diplomatic relations.

He suggested that Nepal could be a CoN member by adopting the bloc’s core values such as democracy, human rights and rule of law as per the Harare Declaration of Commonwealth of Nations.

“Joining to the CoN will provide an exceptional opportunity for us to diversify our interests and diplomacy,” he argued.

Rana argued that most CoN member states share Nepal’s situation as they are either Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Nations, or vulnerable states and if Nepal becomes part of the grouping Nepal has bigger platform to raise its interests and issues.

Among SAARC countries, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal are not CoN members while Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are members.

In the programme, Professor Shreedhar Gautam and Bihari Krishna Shrestha, however, suggested that Nepal, as it has maintained its independent status throughout history, shouldn’t join the grouping largely referred to as a club of ex-British colonies.