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Foreign Policy in the Constitution of Nepal, 2015

Rajeev Kunwar

October 9, 2021

11 MIN READ

Foreign Policy in the Constitution of Nepal, 2015
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Nepal’s current constitution was enacted on Asoj 3, 2072 V. S. (September 20, 2015). It is entitled “Constitution of Nepal.”

In its concise preamble narrating political and historical struggles, the sovereignty of Nepal is finally vested in the Nepalese people.

An independent, self-governed, free and esteemed polity is based on national interest. The state and society of Nepal are defined in terms of poly categories of diverse, multiple and plural identities.

The country fosters unity, solidarity, co-existence, cordial and non-discriminatory demeanor as its principal assets. A political system of the federal democratic republic, Nepal’s politics aspires to sustainable peace, good governance, development and prosperity.

In brief, Nepal concedes political changes towards democratic norms and values concomitant with universal aspirations of the contemporary world.

A modern political system professes current waves of political changes to support a democratic political culture and democratic civilization.

It is stated that the Constitution of Nepal is the basic or fundamental law of the land {Chapter 1, Article 1 (1)}. It has pronounced foreign policy framework categorically mentioning such sectoral issues in the directive principles, policy and responsibility of the state {Chapter 4, Article 50(4) & Article 51 (M)}.

In addition to these clear provisions on foreign policy, some insinuations on it are expressed hither and thither when Nepal has to express and defend its independence and statehood in international affairs.

This constitution conceptualizes the nation that is committed and abided by Nepal’s national freedom, independence, territorial integrity, national interest and prosperity (Chapter 1, Article 3).

In the future, these principles on foreign policy would see their growth and development in political ideology, politicking and debate generated to enrich the budding generation to deliberate rationally, logically and coherently the narratives and counter-narratives of policy options and choices to Nepal.

Thus, Nepal’s constitutional creed is defined and interwoven in national unity and national integrity. Similarly, the state of Nepal underpins a political identity as mentioned before, a character of the state that is independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular, inclusive, democratic, socialism oriented federal democratic republic (Chapter 1, Article 4).

In foreign policy, national interest is of prime importance and focus. Enlightened national interests are an essential ingredient while pursuing foreign policy and diplomacy.

This constitution outlines the national interests of Nepal. It spells out basic tenets of national interests such as Nepal’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, nationalism, self-governance, security of rights and concerns of Nepalese international border defense, economic prosperity and economic progress {Chapter 1, Article 5 (2)}.

In this pursuit of principles, political conduct, ethics and integrity must not be compromised in the domain and functions otherwise punitive measures are meted out according to the provisions of federal law {Chapter 1, Article 5 (2)}.

As we know Nepal has many unique features and icons, its pennant flag, national anthem, the national flower, national color, national animal and national bird underline national spirit and identity {Chapter 1, Article 8 Article 9}. Citizenship is going to be an area of conflict even with noble intentions in the future related to a foreign spouse or Diaspora privileges (Chapter 2).

To issue prohibitory order recently by the Deuba Government not to jeopardize bilateral relations attracted freedom entitlements to be curbed {Chapter 3, Article 17 (2), (3), (4), (5) & (7)}.

Furthermore, the constitution underscores the sanctity of the federal government’s exclusive domain of foreign policy and avoids endangering federal and provincial relations when forging bilateral or multilateral relations. Such sensitivities are followed or pursued in communication or media freedom {Chapter 3, Article 19 (1)}.

In Article 20 the secrecy of people of the enemy in getting justice will not be binding or attractive (for example foreign individuals convicted of illicit acts or activities). No citizen will be banished into exile (Chapter 45).

In directive principles, policy and responsibility of the state {Chapter 4, Article 50 (4)} securing independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-governance and national interests of Nepal, to pursue international relations based on sovereign equality and to direct state’s international relations by enhancing national recognition in the international community in directive principles.

These are guidelines in functional state {Article 49 (1)} and appropriate resources will be mobilized to implement them {Article 49 (2)}.

Additionally, state policy is to ensure its national interests based on national integrity and national security. On political and governance provisions, the state will implement international treaties and agreements that Nepal is a signatory of {Article 51 (b) (3)}.

On the economy, industry and commerce-related policy {Article 51 (d)}, import substitution, export promotion by attracting foreign capital and technology investment and to promote and mobilize infrastructure development will be sought for {Article 51 (d) (10)}.

Based on the needs and priority of the nation when taking foreign assistance and making such dealings transparent and aligning the received amount in the national budget {Article 51 (D) (11)}.

In the same article 51 (D) (12) it has been mentioned that the state has to utilize the national development of NRNs knowledge, skills, technology and capital.

Likewise, {Article 51 (1) (14)} on social justice and inclusive related policy, community and national or INGOs assistance, state’s roles to make accountable and transparency such entity’s functional operation and their management/regulation based on one door policy and to mobilize them on national needs and priority sectors.

Article 51 (L) International relations related policy (1) to be proactive to secure sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-governance and national interests of Nepal to execute independent foreign policy by focusing on national overall interests based on norms and values of UN Charter, nonalignment, Panchasheel, international law and world peace; (2) to sign treaties and agreements based on mutual equality and interests by reviewing the past treaties.

Article 52 states to secure and promote independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-governance in Nepal in an indivisible manner, to protect and pursue basic rights and human rights.

Thus, the state has to follow up the directive principles and subsequently execute the state’s policies, the state’s responsibility to make Nepal prosperous and progressive.

In pursuing the provisions of Article 52, the Government of Nepal will submit an annual report on them to the President and through the President to the Federal Parliament (Article 53).

In this Chapter 4 its progressive implementation, monitoring and evaluation, a committee will be formed according to Federal Parliamentary laws (Article 54). Article 55 says it will not be questioned in the Judiciary if this Chapter is not executed. Chapter 6 the President of Nepal promotes national unity and he/she is the Head of State, the first person.

Chapter 32 on Miscellaneous – Article 278 Federal Parliament is vested with the power to sign treaties or agreements.

Article 279 (1) According to Federal laws treaties or agreements is approved, acceded, sanctioned, or given consent to.

Article 279 (2) two-third majority of Parliament (a) peace and friendship; (b) security and strategic relations; (c) borders of Nepal; and (d) allocation of national resources and its utilization.

In this article clauses (a) and (d) are attractive when the state is immune from a deep, broad, grave and long-term impact.

It would be interesting to put this principle on the matrix embedded or embossed in praxis. A comparative study of foreign policy provisions in the constitutional history of Nepal would reveal the current constitution gives importance to foreign policy and symbolizes Nepal’s aspirations in world affairs.

Article 279 will be applicable with the presence of MPs with a simple majority. Article 279 (3) will be non-applicable when the provisions are not followed.

Article 279 (4) Nepal will not be a signatory or party if such compacts contravene territorial integrity. Article 282 (4) on Ambassador and Special Envoy, on the principles of inclusion, the President will appoint the Nepalese Ambassador and for particular matters appoint a special envoy.

Article 282 (2) the President acknowledges the letters of credentials of foreign diplomats.

Article 292 provisions related to Parliamentary Hearing of Ambassadors according to Federal law provisions comprising bicameral MPs of 14 members in a joint committee is formed. In Appendix 5 of the Federal List of Business – (1) defense and military interests; (6) foreign and diplomatic affairs, international relations and United Nations matter; (7) international treaty or agreement, extradition, mutual legal aid, and international border, international rivers; (18) international trade, exchange, ports, quarantine; (19) airline authority, international airport; (22) citizenship, passport, visa, immigration; (23) atomic energy, atmosphere and space matters; (27) international environment management.

These are implied provisions on foreign policy and foreign affairs that might be taken into consideration while conducting diplomacy.

It would be interesting to put this principle on the matrix embedded or embossed in praxis. A comparative study of foreign policy provisions in the constitutional history of Nepal would reveal the current constitution gives importance to foreign policy and symbolizes Nepal’s aspirations in world affairs.

In the future, these principles on foreign policy would see their growth and development in political ideology, politicking and debate generated to enrich the budding generation to deliberate rationally, logically and coherently the narratives and counter-narratives of policy options and choices to Nepal.

(Rajeev Kunwar is a political scientist based in Kathmandu. He is currently a doctoral student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur)

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