Home From The Sidelines UN Chief Antonio Guterres Visits Nepal on a Four-Day Diplomatic Meet

UN Chief Antonio Guterres Visits Nepal on a Four-Day Diplomatic Meet

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Nepal for four days, from October 29 to November 1. This was Guterres’ first visit to Nepal after assuming office in 2017. He met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and discussed various matters like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change, and Nepal’s role in UN peacekeeping. Guterres also met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Purna Bahadur Khadka and Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud during his visit. He also met with Nepal’s President Ramachandra Paudel.

In Guterres’ maiden visit to Nepal, he was accompanied by Jean Pierre Lacroix, who is the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations to Nepal Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, and other colleagues from the United Nations country team in Nepal and the UN Headquarters in New York. The UN delegation visited several historical and archaeological sites in Nepal, organized press meetings, and addressed a joint session of the Federal Parliament.

Peacekeeping Operations:

In his parliamentary speech, Guterres noted and paid compliments on Nepal’s commitment to restore peace to its conflict-ridden history. Guterres particularly applauded its implementation of transitional justice, which is centered around the victim of violence. Calling the idea the “Nepali-led peace process,” he lauded transitional justice as being the most suitable to heal the wounds of war. According to Guterres “transitional justice has the greatest chance of success when it is inclusive, comprehensive, and has victims at its heart”. He pledged the UN’s complete support in this unique process of redemption in line with international standards and the Supreme Court’s rulings.

Visit to Lumbini:

Guterres paid a visit to the sacred site of Lumbini in South Nepal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site believed to be the birthplace of Lord Buddha. He took the opportunity to emphasize on the growing importance of the teachings of Lord Buddha in the current context. His address was action-oriented, which outlined the need to protect human rights and dignity, achieve the SDGs, deal with climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage biodiversity. Guterres observed that peace “is a rallying cry. From these sacred gardens, I call on the world to act now for peace.”

Addressing Climate Change:

Guterres urged developed economies to offer support to countries like Nepal that are witnessing the worst consequences of climate change. He noted that Nepal is suffering from “a blizzard of global crises not of its making” due to the “Covid-19 pandemic, inflation, and the enormous threat posed by climate chaos.” He urged the importance of avoiding fossil fuels if the world wishes to avoid a climate catastrophe. He also urged developed countries to abide by the 2015 Paris climate conference in order to control carbon emissions and keep warming down to 1.5 degrees. Referring to the adverse effects of climate change on a mountainous region like Nepal, Guterres maintained the importance of protecting those on the frontlines from climate catastrophes like avalanches and flash floods.

During his stay, Guterres paid visits to Mount Everest and Annapurna Base Camps, Pokhara, and Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur. Apart from the above-mentioned dignitaries, Guterres also met leaders of several other political parties. This high-level visit was considered to be a significant diplomatic event and will pave the way for such visits in the future too.