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Editorial: Nepal for Ukraine

Editorial: Nepal for Ukraine

The recent acrimonious debate on the MCC Nepal compact owed partly to the Nepali political parties’ inconsistent foreign policy thinking. Typically, top party leaders take most foreign policy-related decisions with little or no inputs from the rank and file. The ensuing confusion is then reflected in the country’s muddled foreign policy approach. Thankfully, we also get some things right. On the compact, there was a broad political consensus in the end. The country’s latest stand on Ukraine is also laudable.

Issuing a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, rightly arguing that the “recognition of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent entities goes contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter.” Nepal, the statement went on, “opposes the use of force against a sovereign country in any circumstance.” Later, Nepal voted in favor of an urgent debate on the Ukraine crisis at the UN Human Rights Council.

Russia’s invasion imperiled the lives and livelihoods of over 400 Nepalis who were living in Ukraine and are now scrambling to get out. It is natural for the government of Nepal to be concerned about them. But more than that, it is a matter of standing up for what is right. Some laughed off Nepal’s statement on Ukraine: what does the stand of a relative non-entity in international power politics matter? This is selling the country short.

As a sovereign state, Nepal has every right to freely express its views on any issue. But as a responsible member of the international community, it also has responsibilities. On the face of such blatant crime against humanity and aggression against a small state, staying silent or issuing a mealy-mouthed ‘diplomatic’ statement would have been cowardice.

Nepal hasn’t always gotten its foreign policy act right. And we are rather quick to criticize our government and foreign policy establishment when they make diplomatic blunders. But, by the same token, when they do something right, their efforts should be appreciated too. So, again, kudos to the government for its strong stand on Ukraine whose 44m people need all the help they can get right now.