More than ritual at UNGA

Published On: September 24, 2018 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The United Nations General Assembly, the annual event organized every year at its headquarters in New York, is no doubt an important platform for the heads of governments and states of the member countries to put forth their views and build positive image of their countries.  It is, therefore, nearly all of 193 member states participate in the mega event to discuss and work on a wide range of international issues including development, peace and security, international law, climate change and others. Nepal has been participating in this event every year and mostly prime minister himself has represented the country. This year too Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has left for New York to address the 73rd session of UN General Assembly, themed “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies,” leading the Nepali delegation. This will be a wonderful platform for Nepali PM to update the international community about political and social developments at home. 

PM Oli will be holding bilateral meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and will engage in sideline meetings with Swiss President Alain Berset and Cambodian Prime Minister Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.  He is also scheduled to attend the reception to be hosted by US President Donald Trump on September 24. It is yet to be seen what issues PM will raise in New York but it has been learnt that no bilateral meetings have been scheduled with any of the South Asian and Chinese leaders. Such meetings would have been more meaningful for Nepal. PM can raise a range of issues at the UN: Soliciting international support for implementing federalism, attracting foreign direct investments to Nepal, and also soliciting support and good will of the international community to help Nepal graduate to developing country status from the least developed country, among others. In the spare time, he could visit the tech companies of the US and invite them to explore opportunities in Nepal. These ought to be Nepal’s priority at the moment and the PM is advised to accord them similar importance. 

Prime Minister is also scheduled to visit Costa Rica on September 29 to have a bilateral meeting with the President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado Quesada.  This trip to Costa Rica seems a bit misplaced. Instead, it would do well for the PM to hold talks with American business community and encourage them to come and invest in Nepal. Further, he could hold talks with Nepal’s foreign employment destination countries participating in the assembly. Trip to Costa Rica might not be as meaningful. The PM is at the UN representing the two-thirds majority government in Nepal. Thus he has an immense duty and responsibility to raise Nepal’s pressing issues, clearly communicate Nepal’s priorities and solicit support for Nepal’s path to development and prosperity. Mostly, Nepali PMs have made participation at UNGA only a matter of routine exercise. It has to be much more than that.  When he returns home a question will surely be raised: What did Nepal actually gain from participation at the UN and PM’s trip to Costa Rica?

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