TOPICS : A lesson from Nepal’s fiasco at UN

Nepal is one of the old members of the United Nations. It had won every election even while contesting for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council. But, on October 17, Nepal faced a shameful defeat in its bid for the UNSC’s non-permanent seat, receiving only 28 votes against 156 votes of Indonesia from 192 member countries.

There are five electoral groups for SC’s non-permanent membership. Nepal and Indonesia were the only candidates for one seat from Asia and Pacific group. Indonesia is prosperous and has sizable Chinese and Muslim population. But Nepal didn’t have such an advantage.

A nation’s foreign policy cannot be created in a vacuum. There needs to be some sort of foundation that should reflect the country’s domestic policies to build upon. Being an old and independent nation, we garnered considerable respect. No doubt, King Gyanendra’s autocratic step had a huge impact on the voting pattern. Last April, the Nepalis reinstated democracy with the success of the Jana Andolan II, which was widely supported by the international community. This successful struggle could not translate into Nepal’s election victory at the UN. Our foreign minister had little knowledge of the UN process and, it seems, no one at the ministry offered him proper feedback.

Nepal had no agenda, no cards. A senior diplomat has rightly said that contesting an election needs years of preparation. We should have had some agenda to solve the problems of the Asia-Pacific Nations as a whole. Before it declared its candidature, Nepal should have had close consultations with SAARC countries. Only when we create a conducive climate in the neighbourhood, can we expect to win. We should also have been able to persuade ASEAN nations about Nepal’s capability of representing the Asia-Pacific region.

Besides lacking a coherent agenda, we also missed the opportunity to play our cards right. Firstly, we failed to highlight the role Nepal plays in UN peacekeeping missions. Over the years, Nepal’s UN commitments have been appreciated by the international community. Secondly, we are a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and could have persuaded member countries to vote for Nepal. On top of that, Nepal is also an active member of the 67-member group of least developed countries. Nepal also failed to lobby the likes of the Group of 77, India, China, the EU and the USA for votes.

A cause-and-effect analysis needs to be made. This loss should not be swept under the Shital Niwas carpet; we should rather learn from our defeat. The parliament should investigate the defeat and publish a White Paper. The foreign ministry also deserves censure for its failure to appoint ambassadors to a number of countries who could have provided important feedback in time. We should have rather supported Indonesia and obliged it along with other Pacific nations for future bids. The White Paper should make clear the shortcomings so that we will not have to suffer such a humiliating defeat in future.