United Nations and Nepal
The world’s attention will turn to New York this week as the 78th UN General Assembly takes center stage. Yet, it's notable that several prominent world leaders have chosen to bypass this crucial gathering, citing their busy schedules.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron are conspicuously absent from the inaugural session of UNGA. Experts say this glaring absence of key leaders, responsible for addressing pressing global issues such as climate change, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, food crises, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underscores the waning influence of the UN as a multilateral platform.
However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres maintains a resolute focus on action rather than attendance. He emphasizes that what truly matters is what gets accomplished, especially in revitalizing the lagging SDGs. This year, alongside the customary speeches by heads of state and government, there are five high-level summits slated to tackle the burning issues plaguing our world.
According to the UN, the Climate Action Summit, set for Sept 23, aims to amplify ambitions and hold countries accountable to their international commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, particularly in reducing global warming. The summit's key priorities include a global shift to renewable energy, development of sustainable and resilient infrastructure and cities, promoting sustainable agriculture, responsible forest and ocean management, resilience and adaptation to climate impacts, and aligning public and private finance with a net-zero economy.
On the same day, the UN will host the first high-level meeting on universal health coverage, aptly tagged “Moving together to Build a Healthier World”. This meeting is touted as the most significant political gathering ever held on this crucial subject. With over half of the world’s population lacking access to essential health services, and nearly 100m people pushed into extreme poverty due to health costs annually, this event is a pivotal opportunity to secure political commitment from global leaders to prioritize and invest in universal health coverage for all. All nations have pledged to work toward achieving universal health coverage by 2030, encompassing financial risk protection, high-quality healthcare services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines.
On Sept 24 and 25, the SDG summit will take center stage, marking the first such event since the adoption of the SDG agenda in 2015. Despite some progress toward achieving the 17 sustainable development goals, challenges like climate change and financing gaps have hindered overall progress. Small Island Developing States, least developed countries, and landlocked developing countries are falling behind on their SDG targets. To bridge this gap, significant investments, primarily in developing countries, will be a focal point of this year's discussions. The UN estimates that annual investments ranging from $5trn to $7trn across all sectors are needed to realize the SDGs.
From Nepal, a high-powered delegation led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, accompanied by Foreign Minister NP Saud and Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, is attending the 78th UNGA. Prime Minister Dahal’s primary objective for this visit is to garner international support to conclude Nepal's long-drawn-out transitional justice process. Before embarking on his journey to New York, Dahal made efforts to advance a bill related to transitional justice that had been languishing in the Legislation Committee of Parliament. Although the specifics of international support are not fully disclosed, it's evident that Dahal seeks some flexibility in the bill to allow for amnesty in addressing human rights issues.
Dahal has held talks with the UN Secretary-General Guterres, covering a broad spectrum of issues. These discussions touched on pressing global concerns, from climate change to sustainable development goals, and emphasized various aspects of Nepal-UN cooperation, including peace efforts. Guterres expressed gratitude to Nepal for its active engagement with the United Nations, especially its substantial contribution to peacekeeping. The two leaders also delved into shared concerns related to climate change, challenges faced by Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and the crucial role of the government's leadership in Nepal’s journey toward graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) to developing country, according to the UN spokesperson.
Nepal’s key priorities
- Climate change: Loss and damage, climate finance
- UN peacekeeping
- LDC graduation
- Rights of land-locked countries
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