Friday is going to be a litmus test for Nepal’s diplomacy, as the Asia Group – an alliance of Asian countries in the UN –gears up for a rare election to choose the president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Though Nepal’s claim to the coveted post seems legitimate in a number of ways, the outcome of the election, which will be contested between Nepal´s candidate Kul Chandra Gautam and Qatar’s Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, will largely depend on the efficacy of our diplomacy.
We have reason on our side. First, Qatar should not have contested the post, considering that it belongs to the same region from where the last UNGA presidency (by Bahrain) came. Second, none of the South Asian countries has been given a chance to assume the post since 1986.
As an election for the post is almost sure to take place within the Asian group for the first time in UN history, we believe such an exercise should be wholesome and whatever the outcome it should not impact on subsequent bilateral relations between the two countries in question. One is happy to note that both countries, during the visit here of a special envoy of the Qatari prime minister last week, vowed not to allow the election to come in the way of bilateral relations.
We urge them both to uphold this commitment honestly, though fears abound that the resource rich Gulf country may use its financial influence as a last resort to secure support among many underdeveloped countries that are yet to make up their mind. The Nepal government is expecting support from sovereign countries on the basis of the decades-long contribution that it has made to UN peace-keeping missions across the globe. In this connection, voting for Nepal´s candidate will be a true tribute to the over 76,000 Nepali peacekeepers who have served in the most dangerous zones in the world and risked life and limb to further the UN´s goal of universal peace.
As hopes for Gautam winning the election gain momentum, we think it is high time the government made all out effort to secure the support of friendlier countries like China, which is yet to decide its vote. Since securing Chinese support is crucial in the election, we urged the government to put extra effort into assuring that support. At the same time, we should also appreciate the invaluable support that New Delhi has assured Nepal. It is also time SAARC member countries translated their utterances on South Asian solidarity into action and elected one among their own to the UNGA presidency for a year starting from September 2011.
Ediotiral of Republica Daily, Published on: 2011-02-23