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Editorial: Leveraging Nepal’s soft power

Editorial: Leveraging Nepal’s soft power

Nepal has long been an important contributor to global peace and stability through its involvement in UN peacekeeping missions. Nepali peacekeepers deployed in various conflict zones have consistently earned praise for their exceptional performance, professionalism, and integrity. 

Now, Nepal has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the largest contributor of troops to these missions. According to the United Nations, Nepal is currently contributing 6,247 peacekeepers, ahead of  Bangladesh (6,197), India (6,073), and Rwanda (5,919).

The Nepali Army has been contributing to world peace for more than six decades. During the period, it has served in more than 44 UN missions sending 149,980 personnel. The army’s association in the peacekeeping missions dates back to 1958 when Nepal first deployed five military observers to Lebanon. 

Over the years, Nepal has risen to prominence in global peacekeeping efforts. While this contribution has earned recognition from the international community, Nepal has not been able to enhance its image in the international arena by utilizing it as a soft power tool.

Although politicians and officials often discuss the potential of leveraging Nepal’s peacekeeping capabilities to bolster the country’s influence on the international stage, it has not yet become a central component of Nepal’s foreign policy. While Nepal’s Foreign Policy, introduced in 2019, briefly touches on this issue, it falls short of outlining a concrete plan and policy for projecting this soft power in the international arena.  The policy states that Nepal’s ‘commitment and contribution to world peace shall be continued and the country shall be projected as a peace-loving country.’ 

In a world grappling with multiple crises and conflicts, Nepal has the opportunity to send a powerful message advocating for peace and harmony. To capitalize on this opportunity, Nepal must elevate its position within the UN system. Despite being the leading contributor to peace missions, Nepal’s representation in leadership and decision-making roles within the UN is notably lacking. It is high time Nepal asserted its claim for top positions within the UN to play a more significant role on the international stage. Achieving this goal requires concerted efforts not only from the Nepali Army but also from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. These institutions must actively engage in international platforms, meetings, and negotiations to elevate Nepal’s presence and influence.

Once Nepal secures prominent positions within the UN, it can leverage its soft power effectively. The recognition of Nepal as the largest troop-contributing country presents a significant opportunity that must be seized without delay. Therefore, the foreign ministry, in collaboration with the army, should formulate a comprehensive plan outlining how to project the country’s image through soft power and how to secure top positions in peacekeeping operations.