Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said the world continued to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination drive has given hope to every country, including Nepal.

He appreciated neighbouring India and China as well as the COVAX initiative for supporting the vaccination drive and apprised the international community that Nepal had already rolled out vaccination programme for priority population groups.

Addressing the High-level Segment of the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council via a pre-recorded video statement today, he expressed Nepal's full and unequivocal commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. He further underscored Nepal's firm belief in the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, interrelatedness and the mutually reinforcing nature of human rights, including the right to development.

Minister Gyawali emphasised that universally recognised human rights, values and principles were enshrined in the constitution, including equality, non-discrimination, justice, the rule of law, among others, and further highlighted the special measures to uplift the weaker sections of society.

He also underlined the importance of civil society, human rights defenders, and the media for the promotion and protection of human rights.

"We have incorporated Sustainable Development Goals in our national development plan with a view to realising them by 2030. Complementing the SDGs, Nepal is at present focused on realising the national aspiration of "Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali," he added.

The foreign minister reiterated Nepal's commitment to guarantee full enjoyment of all human rights for women and girls while also highlighting its progress in terms of gender equality and women empowerment.

Underlining Nepal's pledge to eliminate all forms of child labour and child marriage, he further underscored Nepal's commitment to upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.

He also stressed the need to enhance cooperation among origin, transit and destination countries for protection of the rights of migrant workers, including women migrant workers, and combating human trafficking.

On climate issues, he laid emphasis on the importance of delivering on climate commitment at the national, regional, and global levels to enable people to fully enjoy all the human rights.

He reaffirmed that there would be no blanket amnesty in cases of serious violation of human rights, and further discussed the matter regarding investigation of incidents of conflict-era human rights violations by the transitional justice mechanisms, including the commissions. He also thanked the UN member states for their support to Nepal's re-election to the Council and the CEDAW Committee.

The 46th Session of the Human Rights Council commenced on February 22. This year, the council's annual high-level panel's discussion is focused on the theme of mainstreaming human rights, the state of play in the fight against racism and discrimination 20 years after adoption of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action and the exacerbating effects the COVID-19 pandemic on these efforts.' The Nepali delegation led by Minister Gyawali comprised the secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, and secretaries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, including the Nepali ambassador and permanent representative in Geneva and other senior officials of the government.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.