The Global Policy Forum for Nepal organized its first conference in Kathmandu on 2 December 2015 which was attended by a large number of leading Nepalese academics, professionals, civil society representatives, political leaders and government officials. The Forum was established on 7 October 2015 in London by a group of academics and researchers of Nepalese origin working in different disciplines at various universities and research institutions around the globe with the objective of serving the people of Nepal in an independent, objective, impartial and non-partisan manner by investing intellectual resource needed in the formulation and implementation of sound policies in the longer term best interests of the country in order to develop it as a self-dependent, progressive and prosperous nation with a cohesive, tolerant, and inclusive society guided by the values of democracy, rule of law, human rights, and plurality.
The Forum wishes to express its deep concern about the current political situation in Nepal and the growing tension in its relations with India. Nepal has centuries old relations with India at all levels which find their manifestation in all facets of human activity. Therefore, the Forum calls upon the Government of Nepal to demonstrate its maturity in dealing with India. Inflated anti-India statements are not conducive to resolving the differences between the two countries. Nepali political leaders should exercise caution and demonstrate statesmanship.
The Forum finds the ongoing blockade deeply regrettable as it has caused considerable hardship for the people of Nepal and severe damage to its economy. The Forum calls upon the Government of India to ensure that the rights of Nepal as a land-locked country under international law are respected, that the vulnerability of Nepal is recognised, and that the smooth flow of goods, including essential supplies, across the Indo-Nepal border remains unimpeded. The Forum calls upon the Governments of both India and Nepal to resolve their differences through negotiations on the basis of established principles of international law. The Forum is willing to mediate or offer any assistance in a professional, objective and independent manner that is needed to resolve the differences between the two countries.
Should the Government of Nepal come to the formal conclusion that its rights as a land-locked country have been violated it should not hesitate to make its case to the international community on the basis of sound facts and figures and be willing to prove its case before international judicial and quasi-judicial institutions. The Forum is willing to assist the Government of Nepal to have Nepal’s rights protected under international law.
Since India has provided enormous aid to Nepal’s development efforts over a long period of time the unfortunate situation that exists today which has crippled the Nepalese economy and brought immense hardship to the people of Nepal is counterproductive to India’s own endeavours, nationally, regionally and internationally.
The Forum regrets the complacent and self-interested attitudes of the majority of senior Nepali politicians, who, rather than acting urgently to defuse the situation through negotiations, have concentrated instead on gaining or retaining power in their hands and appear in some cases to have a disregard for the suffering of ordinary people, both Madheshi and non-Madheshi.
The Forum calls upon the Government of Nepal to engage in a meaningful dialogue to address the demands of the Madheshi people, to refrain from using violence against peaceful demonstrators, and to be prepared to move appropriate amendment proposals to the newly promulgated Constitution.
The Forum calls upon Madheshi political leaders and activists to ensure that that all protests are peaceful, to respond positively to calls for dialogue, and to create an environment for talks, and thereby to play a part in averting the looming humanitarian crisis in Nepal. The Forum is willing to mediate between the Government of Nepal and the Madheshi leaders to find a satisfactory constitutional solution to the current problems.
The Forum is of the view that the prevailing situation in the county is primarily due to political mismanagement over a long period of time by the leaders of all major political parties in the country. The Forum finds the lack of vision, foresight and wisdom on the part of the political elite and the deeply engrained culture of corruption at all levels of government deeply regrettable.
Democracy is not working well in Nepal, the rule of law is weak, the judiciary is tainted by corruption and the anti-corruption bodies are dysfunctional. Therefore, the time has come for people from all walks of life to engage in a soul searching exercise and chart the future of the country accordingly. For this, the Global Policy Forum for Nepal is of the view that:
What is needed in Nepal is a liberated mindset on the part of the people from all walks of life and a willingness to embrace a progressive agenda and modernity in both public and private life.
The country should uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Nepali people enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties ratified by Nepal.
There should be a programme of de-politicisation of the management and administration of higher education in Nepal. There should be academic freedom and autonomy of institutions of higher education. Universities are supposed to be the intellectual powerhouses of any nation and no one should play politics with such institutions. The Founding Members of the Forum are willing to assist in the process of de-politicisation of management of institutions of higher education in Nepal.
The political leaders should stop party political bhagbanda in the appointment of university mangers, ambassadors, judges and members of other constitutional and statutory bodies. The neutrality and professionalism of the civil service, including the diplomatic service, should be followed and respected. What the country needs is good governance and faith in fair competition and merit, which are the bedrocks of democracy and development, in all walks of public life.