Nepal is ranked as the fourth largest force contributor to the UN Peace-Keeping Mission, with its security personnel engaged in different conflict-affected UN member countries. But no Nepali has become the head of any UN specialised agency, not even a second man, since the retirement of Kul Chandra Gautam from UNICIEF. This calls for diplomatic acumen
The advent of the United Nations Organisation in 1945 was basically attributed to a widely felt need of a global body, unlike the League of Nations (LoN), capable of establishing peace and security in the world to avert a possible Third World War. The failure of the LoN formed by the big powers after the end of the First World War (1914-18) through the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and lack of a sense of belonging by many countries were reasons behind the inception of the UN.
The LoN leaned to the affluent countries only, whose very preamble opens with "We the high power nations ... " whereas the UN Charter in the preamble says "We the peoples of the United Nations ....", signaling a shift from the high power nations to the peoples of the United Nations, big or small, rich or poor. The 51 founding members that endorsed the Charter of the United Nations on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco to establish this body and officially bring it into existence on October 24 the same year could have hardly imagined today's UN in terms of continuation of its existence and worldwide efforts put by the UN in the domain of peace and security, socioeconomic development and humanitarian activities for the welfare of the people of the member countries, which has now reached 193.
As the UN marks the 76th year of its coming into existence, Nepal, on its part, is observing the 66thyear of its belonging to the UN, following its admittance on December14, 1955 as the 75th UN member. Nepal's earlier solicitation on July 22, 1949 through a 27-page letter signed by Major General Bijaya Shumsher Rana, the then Director-General of Foreign Affairs (equivalent to the current foreign minister) for membership to the UN did not get through following the then USSR's veto on September 7 that year. That news was covered by no less a known newspaper than the world-famous The New York Times that read "The Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was kept out of the United Nations today by the thirty first veto registered by the Soviet Union".
Understandably Nepal had a Rana regime at that time while Russia was already a communist country since the 1917 revolution which ousted the Tsar.
The Soviet Union might have construed that the Rana regime of Nepal was a counterpart of their former rulers, the Tsar. This is clearly evidenced as the Soviet Union did not oppose Nepal's entry into the UN in 1955.
At the time of its application to the UN in 1949, Nepal had diplomatic relations only with India, France and the United States, which might also have adversely contributed to the non-acceptance of Nepal to the UN although Nepal has been one of the 17 oldest independent countries of the world wherein no foreign flag was flown throughout documented world history.
That Nepal had first applied for UN membership during the Rana rule in 1949 but was admitted only five years after the end of the same rule was due to lack of concrete follow up in the UN corridor by Nepal in the interval owing to the power struggle among the political leaders. Though blamed as a snatcher of democracy, it was during King Mahendra's direct rule that Nepal became a member of the United Nations in 1955.
Nepal's entry into the UN in the mid-50s was followed by the UN's engagements in Nepal's development since the early 60s with technical and financial assistance covering almost all segments of socioeconomic development. Its assistance has concentrated on infrastructure development, health, education, population and family planning/reproductive health, mother and child health, gender issues, poverty alleviation and environment through a number of projects and programmes throughout the country.
Currently, 21 UN specialised agencies and other UN organs like the UNDP, WHO, UNICIEF, UNFPA, ICAO and quite a few other offices are actively contributing, under the overall residential coordination/representation of the UNDP Country Office, in Nepal's development. Chances are high that more assistance would be forthcoming should the government be diplomatically tactful in pleading for more UN assistance for Nepal's sustainable development, mainly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.
Nepal's presence in the UN as its member since the past six-and-a-half decades has been marked with remarkable instances. Nepal's representation in the UN mission, led by Nepal's first envoy Rishikesh Shah, earned great reputation with his diplomatic maneuvering in the UN corridor, as a result of which he was chosen to head the International Commission, constituted by the UN, for investigation of the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in a mysterious air crash in then Rhodesia, now Zambia, while he was on a UN peace mission.
That a Nepali permanent representative to the UN was selected to head such a prestigious yet sensitive UN mission was no mean recognition of Nepal when the country at that time was not internationally well exposed as it is today.
Nepal's meaningful presence in the UN got reflected when it was elected for a two-year non-permanent member seat of the UN Security Council in 1969 during Major General Padam Bahadur Khatry's tenure as the permanent representative to the UN. After nearly two decades, Nepal again regained the same prestigious UN SC seat in 1989 under the diplomatic stewardship of Jaya Pratap Rana, but Nepal lost in the fray for a UNSC non-permanent and General Assembly's presidential seat in the recent past.
Currently, Nepal is ranked as the fourth largest force contributor to the UN Peace-Keeping Mission, with its security personnel engaged in different conflict-affected UN member countries. But no Nepali has become the head of any UN specialised agency, not even a second man, since the retirement of Kul Chandra Gautam from UNICIEF. This calls for diplomatic acumen.
A version of this article appears in the print on November 09, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.