António Guterres meets Nepal’s leadersConcluding the transitional justice process, climate change and Nepal’s role in UN peacekeeping discussed
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres spent a busy first day in Nepal after landing in Kathmandu at 1AM on Sunday on his four-day visit.
He had a one-on-one with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Defence Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka and Foreign Minister N P Saud at their offices in Singha Darbar.
He also paid a courtesy call on President Ram Chandra Paudel, visited Patan Darbar Square heritage site and took part in a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Dahal.
Dahal and Guterres told a press meet that their discussions centred on the international situation, Nepal’s peace process, the impact of the climate crisis on the Himalaya, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as well Nepal’s imminent graduation from least developed to developing country status.
“Our talks were extremely cordial and we spoke frankly about expanding ties between Nepal and the United Nations system,” Dahal said, “we delved deeply into climate impacts, and appreciated the Secretary-General’s role in helping Nepal adapt to the crisis, and for greater future assistance for adaptation.”
Dahal also said that Nepal’s peace process was nearing its final phase, adding: “We feel that the UN and the Secretary-General’s role in seeing it through will be important.”
Dahal added that he got the impression that Guterres was well informed about Nepal’s political situation, and the transitional justice process.
The other matter on the agenda was Nepal’s important role in contributing to the UN’s peacekeeping forces in conflict zones around the world. Dahal said Guterres was full-praise for Nepal’s contribution to peacekeeping.
Antonio Guterres told the press that Nepal’s peace process and traditional justice should be concluded adhering to international law, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter, and the needs of the survivors and families of the victims.
Guterres also met the main opposition leader K P Oli of the UML during which Oli is said to have complained about Dahal still promoting a culture of violence despite the Maoist party having entered democratic politics.
Former foreign minister and UML leader Pradeep Gyawali said Oli told Guterres that he was opposed to the Maoist party pushing the anniversary of the conflict on 13 February as ‘People’s War Day’.
“We all need to conclude the peace process and the prime minister as a former guerrilla commander has an important role, but he is actively glorifying violence, and this is worrying for the survivors of the conflict,” Gyawali quoted Oli as telling Guterres.
Oli also raised the issue of the Truth and Reconciliation Bill which still has provisions for general amnesty for murders and other war crimes, and violates a Supreme Court ruling.
“Transitional justice cannot be transitional injustice, and should be governed by the wishes of the survivors and families of the victims,” Oli reportedly said.
Nepal’s peace process is regarded as a model for post-conflict societies because of the successful demobilisation of the insurgents, their induction into the national army and rehabilitation of the rest.
However, there are some loose ends including lack of justice against known perpetrators of war crimes, the recruitment of child soldiers and summary executions and disappearances by state security forces.
UN Secretary-General's press encounter with the Prime Minister of Nepal
Joint press encounter with the Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’
Kathmandu, 29 October 2023 [as delivered]
It is a great pleasure to be back in beautiful Nepal.
The Prime Minister and I have just had a very productive meeting and I thank him for his wonderful hospitality. Indeed, the warm welcome that I received in Nepal is something I will never forget.
We are living in difficult and tense times. I know that even though the conflict in the Middle East is thousands of miles away, it has hit very close to home for the people of Nepal.
I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the ten Nepalese students killed in the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October, and my best wishes for the safe return of Mr. Bipin Joshi, who is missing.
I have just arrived here from Qatar and I will continue to insist on the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages in Gaza.
And I repeat my utter condemnation of the appalling attacks perpetrated by Hamas. There is no justification, ever, for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians.
The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hours. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations.
The number of civilians who have been killed and injured is totally unacceptable.
All parties must respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.
That Law emerged from the tragedy and awful experiences of war. I have always been consistent in my call for strict compliance of the well-established principles and rule of International Humanitarian Law.
The protection of civilians is paramount.
The Laws of War establish clear rules to protect human life and respect humanitarian concerns. Those laws cannot be contorted for the sake of expedience.
The world is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe taking place before our eyes.
More than two million people, with nowhere safe to go, are being denied the essentials for life – food, water, shelter and medical care – while being subjected to relentless bombardment.
I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink.
And I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of a sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza.
We must join forces to end this nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel and all those affected around the world, including here in Nepal.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am here in Kathmandu to strengthen the deep friendship and cooperation between Nepal and the United Nations.
Nepal has a long and proud tradition of championing peace and multilateralism.
And the United Nations is hugely grateful to Nepal for your support for multilateral solutions – backed up by the enormous contribution you make to peacekeeping missions around the world.
Nepal’s progress over the past twenty years has been astonishing:
You have become a republic, established peace, and thrown yourselves behind the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action.
And there’s more to come.
The next few years will be decisive, as Nepal prepares to graduate from Least Developed Country status. And as it embarks on the final stages of the peace process with transitional justice.
Transitional justice must help to bring peace to victims, families and communities.
The United Nations stands ready to support Nepal to develop a process that meets international standards, the Supreme Court’s rulings, and the needs of victims – and to put it into practice.
Nepal is also caught in a blizzard of global crises not of its making: the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation caused by the international economic situation, and the enormous threat posed by climate chaos.
Much more international action is needed. Developed countries must step up to support sustainable development, and help developing economies including Nepal to tackle the climate crisis.
On this trip, I will visit the Himalayas to see for myself the terrible impact of the climate crisis on the glaciers.
The situation is dire and it is accelerating. Nepal has lost close to a third of its ice in just over thirty years. And glaciers are melting at record rates.
The impact on communities is devastating and I will meet local people in the Himalayas to hear directly from them about how they are affected.
I will travel to Pokhara and to Lumbini, to reflect on the Lord Buddha’s teachings of peace and non-violence, which are more relevant than ever in our deeply troubled world.
And I want to explore how the United Nations and Nepal can work together even more to solve problems, boost prospects, and improve international support.
Because Nepal is a friend of the world, and so the world must be a better friend to Nepal.
Working together, we can make that a reality.