Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Kul Chandra Gautam, has said that the international community, and especially those countries with the greatest possible influence on the government of Nepal such as India, China, USA, Japan and the European Union, can and need to take stronger action to restore peace, democracy and human rights in Nepal.
In an exclusive interview with the latest issue of Nepali Aawaz (www.nepaliaawaz.com), a bilingual fortnightly newspaper published from New York, Mr. Gautam said to be effective, these countries should send joint and common message to the King and other parties in Nepal. These countries also ought to empower the United Nations to take more effective action to help Nepal, he said.
Gautam– a Nepali citizen– however, admitted that repeated statements of concern by the international community had not produced dramatic change in the behavior of the various parties to Nepal’s conflict. However, some significant changes have taken place. A number of countries have suspended military aid to the government. The UN High commissioner for Human Rights has established its largest office in the world in Nepal to monitor human rights violations. The Maoists have agreed to honor Basic Operating Guidelines for allowing unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance to people in need in areas under their control or influence, he said.
Responding to a query on whether it has been a mistake on part of the Nepal government to repeatedly refuse the UN’s offer to mediate between the Maoists and them, Gautam—who is also the deputy executive director of UNICEF—said ideally, Nepalis should try to solve their own problems without any external mediation. However, it is clear that all efforts to do so have failed so far, he said.
“ Many observers and friends of Nepal believe that it would be in Nepal’s interest to seek the support of a friendly, neutral, respected organisations like the United Nations to help resolve the conflict in Nepal. The 12 point memorandum of understanding between the seven party alliance and CPN-Maoist specifically calls for UN’s support in negotiations leading to the election of a Constituent Assembly and for disarmament,” said Gautam. “In the absence of a better and more credible road-map by the government of Nepal to resolve the conflict, it’s refusal to seek UN’s offer of help seems unwise. Let us remember that Nepal is a long-standing, loyal member of the UN. It has a right to seek the UN’s help, and the UN has a duty to offer such help. As the UN does not have any other vested interest in Nepal, nobody should think of UN’s help as interference by an external third party,” he insisted.
Gautam further said the UN believes that there is no military solution to Nepal’s conflict. It must be resolved through Negotiations, and that any solution must guarantee such universally agreed principles as a multi-party democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law .
Describing the role of the UN in Nepal, Gautam said through the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, the UN is strengthening its capacity to monitor human rights violations by all parties to the conflict. “Many Nepali Human Rights activists and civil society leaders have found the presence of OHCHR in Nepal reassuring and helpful. However, at present the UN does not have the mandate or the resources needed to effectively protect and defend civilians against atrocities by the Royal Nepalese Army or the Maoists,” he said, adding, “Nepalis and international community should continue to advocate for giving the UN a stronger mandate and more effective in helping Nepal to end the conflict, strengthen democracy and help in post-conflict reconstruction and development.
Responding to a query on whether Nepal’s membership of the UN could be suspended to censure the royal government, Mr. Gautam said while many deplorable things are happening in Nepal, these do not constitute adequate grounds for suspension of its membership in the UN. Besides Nepal, there are many other odious, dictatorial regimes in the world which continue to be members of the UN. But there are other indirect ways in which a government that violates international treaties, conventions and the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations can be ostracized. The fact that the King of Nepal had to cancel his attendance at the UN General Assembly and World Summit in September 2005 is an example of such moral pressure, he added.
Similarly, Gautam said the UN does take into account the discipline and conduct of a country’s military in accepting them in peace keeping troops. So far the behaviour of the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) in UN peace-keeping operations has been exemplary. However, as evidence emerges of human rights violations and war crimes by RNA inside Nepal, it will be a serious impediment to its continuing participation in UN peace keeping operations. One hopes that the leaders of RNA are intelligent enough to realise this danger,” he said.
“It is the duty of independent journalists, human rights activists and civil society to bring such issues to light. In doing so, one must not forget similar violations of international law by the Maoist’s, which also must be denounced unequivocally. In particular, the Maoist’s abuse of children must be condemned as a serious crime,” Gautam added.
Full Interview: http://www.nepaliaawaz.com/PDFs/vol1issue9.pdf