A vector signifies a quantity with both magnitude and direction in physics. A quantity must adhere to specific combination criteria in order to be considered a vector even if it has magnitude and direction.
A state’s multi-vector foreign policy strategy serves as a foundation for a flexible approach in its interactions with rival international entities in order to benefit from alliances or partnerships that have both economic and military benefits. Historically, Nepal adopted this strategy for a series of asymmetrical bargaining diplomatic devices in order to deal with competing rival regional powers China, India, the USA and the Western nations over the conditions of cooperation in socioeconomic developments, including infrastructures for industrialization and modernization of its society.
Nepal’s multi-vector foreign policy leads toward an approach to international affairs that promotes cordial and predictable relationships with all nations. This approach is different from the one in which governments strengthen their relations with one country while disregarding others at the same time. The multi-vector foreign policy strategy may win helpful collaboration of all nations with an interest in it. This is the core of the strategy.
Nepal is on the brink of circumstances where it has to adopt a multi-vector foreign policy, interacting favorably not just with its powerful neighbors but also with the US, the EU, and the rest of the world. Even the high-level reports and policy papers on Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomatic behaviors from 1996, 2006, International Relations and Human Rights Committee (IRHRC)-2011, 2017 through 2020/021 have alarmed the strategic crises on all fronts.
It may sound newer now, but its components are found in practices that can be traced back to Nepal’s cold war-era non-alignment policy. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, respect for mutual equality, non-aggression and peaceful settlement of disputes, cooperation for mutual benefit, abiding faith in the Charter of the United Nations, and value of world peace have been some of the principal foreign policy features of Nepal. The prospect of strategic autonomy contains fundamental components of multi-vector policy. At the advent of the multi-polarity and fluidity of international relations, the multi-vector foreign policy rules prominently since it favors neither bipolar dilemma nor unipolar despotism.
Nepal’s foreign policy now exclusively relies on clauses on the Constitution of Nepal (2015). The Article 5.1, Article 50.4 and Article 51 determine foreign policy priorities, national interests and national policies of Nepal. Additionally, Nepal focuses on pertinent chances for collaboration within the bilateral and multilateral partnership, as required by our national objectives of foreign policy, having recognized economic growth as our country’s top priority.
Nepal’s geostrategic position necessitates extensive and multifaceted interaction with its neighbors on government-to-government, people-to-people and business to business levels. Without falling under any country-specific category, Nepal needs economic assistance of India, the connectivity infrastructure provided by the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as a significant amount of funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department for International Development (DFID), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
The Foreign Policy 2077 (2020) focuses on soft power, multifaceted connections with neighbors, Nepali diaspora, opinions on updating bilateral agreements, settling border issues, track-two diplomacy, public diplomacy, labor diplomacy, and climate change. Affirming the existential priority of the nonalignment policy, it attempts to define its politico-diplomatic and economic stance in an altered geopolitical, regional, and global environment.
This prescribes Nepal to increase opportunities for multidimensional connectivity with its neighbors, including through the infrastructural development which helps Nepal attain the LDC graduation. Continuation to find new areas of cooperation motivated by a common desire to gain access to technology is a must. These areas solidify Nepal’s relationships with regional and global powers through the exchange of high-level visits, the development of people-to-people ties, and building of trust and confidence between nations.
Nepal’s novel foreign policy and diplomacy must be based upon the strong state power, vibrant bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, and a framework based on a pragmatic and non-ideological foundation. Multi-vectorism, in practice, sets the goals to create the relational power that enables a weaker state to lessen the difficulties of independence and neutrality while interacting in an asymmetrical manner with comparatively stronger powers.
Nepal needs to discourage regional players like China and India from cultivating, developing, and reestablishing a sphere of privileged interests in its internal and foreign affairs. Deep engagement with international and regional society can be possible only by adopting policy goals, increasing space and process of interacting with the states, encircling it in a web of persistent interactions with long-term goals of strategic and economic incorporation.
Lately, the issues of climate change and its impacts have massively drawn policy attraction. However, the sustainable development goals and forums for landlocked states can drive Nepal to identify the relevance of Track II Diplomacy for mitigating and eliminating challenges of its strategic position as global order shifts in an unparalleled manner. It has emboldened Nepal’s foreign policy toward major powers approaching the global community with sustained norms of non-aligned policy at unprecedented circumstance in humanitarian crises which may force it to resort to populism or protectionism while dealing with the great powers.
Having said that, the multi-vector foreign policy of Nepal can resolve the most challenging issues of its foreign policy by increasing engagement with its neighbors, regional powers and great powers. This policy enhances Nepal’s national interests and confirms its commitments toward multilateral and regional forums thereby boosting economic diplomacy, labor diplomacy and public diplomacy through promotion of soft-power. Nepal has to reassess the philosophical foundations of its foreign policy. In addition, cultivating the belief that by encouraging great power involvement in regional institutions rather than domestic matters, Nepal will be able to increase strategic interdependence of rival nations, making direct confrontation prohibitively expensive.