Ek Nath Dhakal, Nepal chapter head of the Universal Peace Federation, the organizer of the two-day Asia Pacific Summit 2018 spoke to Republica on the eve of the summit. Excerpt:
What is the purpose of holding the summit here in Kathmandu?
The summit is aimed at promoting tolerance, brotherhood, peace and development. The summit will highlight the successfully concluded peace process and the promulgation of a new constitution through the people-elected Constituent Assembly. Nepal's success is a unique example of peaceful and democratic transformation. It is a telling testimony that dialogue triumphs over differences; and the ballot over the bullet. What Nepal has achieved in conflict transformation can be an inspiring success story for many people longing for peace in different parts of the world. Other areas of innovation and models for peace-building found in Nepal include: cooperation between government and civil society, the integrity of inter-generational family ties, and efforts to raise awareness of the effects of climate change. The summit hopes to highlight these paradigms of peace during summit sessions.
Why was Kathmandu chosen for this and what is the significance of the choice?
Nepal was chosen as the summit venue to encourage tourism and support the government's 'Visit Nepal Year 2020' campaign. In particular, highlighting Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, as an international tourist destination site has been encouraged. Delegates, especially from Buddhist backgrounds, will be visiting Lumbini after the summit.
What is the core purpose of this summit?
The theme of the summit is to address the critical challenges, including independence, mutual prosperity and universal values. It will be attended by heads of states and governments, lawmakers, eminent leaders, businesspersons and leaders of civil society, who will participate in several discussion on diverse topics such as climate change, peace and development, good governance, conflict resolution as well as strengthening marriage and family institutions with the aim of supporting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development . A particular focus of the summit is to support the government's vision of “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.” During the summit, bilateral and multilateral meetings will be held. Dialogue and discussions are planned which will explore new diplomatic opportunities for Nepal. Foreign investors and business entrepreneurs are part of official entourages of a number of visiting heads of states and governments. They will look for mutually beneficial business opportunities. The Asia Pacific Summit will conclude with a special declaration on climate change as well as the Kathmandu Declaration. The declaration drafting committee consists of a think-tank and diplomats from Nepal, India, and People's Republic of China, Australia, Thailand, Philippines and USA.
How will this enhance Nepal's bilateral and international standing?
During the summit, bilateral and multilateral meetings will be held. Dialogue and discussions are planned which will explore new diplomatic opportunities for Nepal. Foreign investors and business entrepreneurs are part of official entourages of a number of visiting heads of state and government. They will look for mutually beneficial business opportunities. The Asia Pacific Summit 2018 would surely make a very positive and substantial contribution to achieving the United Nation's sustainable development goals and to building a world of lasting peace for the mankind.
Some say that your organization is involved in converting people to Christianity in Nepal? Is it true?
False. We are an international and inter-religious network of individuals and organizations, including representatives from religion, government, civil society and the private sector dedicated to achieving world peace. UPF supports the work of the United Nations, particularly in the areas of interfaith peace-building, peace education, and the strengthening of marriage and family. Universal Peace Federation holds general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. We support and promote the work of the United Nations and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
How is Nepal government involved in this project?
We are grateful for all the support and cooperation of the government of Nepal and the Federal Parliament of Nepal. The government is managing security and hospitality to the foreign dignitaries according to their protocol. However, the Universal Peace Federation international headquarters, New York, is sponsoring the expenses of the summit. If the government and civil society cooperate each other, we can achieve a lot.