KATHMANDU: Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Dinesh Gunawardena, while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the NIICE Global Conclave 2021 on Friday morning, said, “We are witnessing an event that will make South Asia as a hub of discourse for International affairs in the global arena.”
The three-day virtual conclave organized by Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE) was inaugurated by the group of dignitaries, including Gunawardena, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu (Former Minister and Indian Emissary to the G20 & G7), Dr. Abdulla Rasheed Ahmed (Minister of State for Education, Maldives) and by Prof. Dr Taniguchi Tomohiko (Professor, Keio University and the former Special Adviser to PM Shinzo Abe).
The inaugural session of the conclave, themed “Connecting Nepal to the world”, was moderated by Dr. Pramod Jaiswal and saw insightful discussions taking place. Discussions ranged from Sri Lanka’s preference for a non-aligned foreign policy approach to Japan’s situation given the rise of China with a special focus on Nepal.
Sri Lankan Minister Gunawardena said, “Sri-Lankan government is further willing to increase its ties with Nepal and all the nations around the world with constructive dialogue to further the interest of Sri Lanka on sustainable environment, development of human resources and prosperity.” He expressed his happiness that the three-day-long conclave will bring the best of the minds together that will, in turn, lead to fruitful outcomes benefiting the field of international affairs.
Speaking after Minister Gunawardena, the second speaker of the inaugural session, Maldives Minister Dr. Rasheed Ahmed drew attention to the rising problem of climate change in the 21st Century. He remarked, “All the countries should take necessary imperatives to combat climate change.” Highlighting the Green Schools of Maldives he called upon the members to “Think Globally and Act Locally” in order to mitigate the impact of climate change.
In his comprehensive address, Prof. Taniguchi Tomohiko emphasized the importance of the Indo-Pacific region. He laid out the objectives of Japan’s Foreign Policy as (1) upholding core values (2) maintaining territorial integrity, and (3) maintaining peace and security across the world. He went on to talk about the development of the concept of Indo-Pacific and highlighted that it is imperative for countries of the region to maintain a fine balance between their economic and strategic interests vis a vis China.
The concluding address was that of Mr. Suresh Prabhu. Referring to the current pandemic, he highlighted how the world is facing an economic issue, issue of climate change, and a major public health crisis simultaneously. He focused on the interconnectedness of the world and said that India and Nepal were twin brothers that should work collaboratively through regional cooperation.
The session drew unprecedented participation from 30+ countries with participants ranging from world-class leaders, professors, academics, researchers, diplomats, experts, scholars, personnel of international organizations, strategic affairs’ think-tanks, and governmental foreign policy brains-trusts. More than 2000+ participants via video conference and social media pages participated in the conclave.
The inaugural ceremony concluded with a vote of thanks. The three-day conclave aims to bring together leaders, diplomats, business leaders, and scholars from the region as well as other countries that matter to Nepal. The conclave will have around 200 participants from more than 40 countries in three days.
There will be discussions on Nepal’s Foreign Policy; Foreign Policy of India and China; Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Aid to Nepal; Nepal’s relations with India and China; Security of Siliguri Corridor; Future of Indo-Pacific Strategy; Rise of China; Rising Asia; Soft Power and Public Diplomacy; Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; US Foreign Policy under Biden Administration; SAARC and BIMSTEC; Gender in International Relations, among others.
The event is supported by the world’s various reputed institutions such as The Center for Chinese and East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU, India), the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore, the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya (Malaysia), the Center for South Asian Studies, Fudan University (China), the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok (Thailand), the School of Public Affairs, American University (US), the Global South Studies Center, University of Cologne (Germany), and the United Service Institution of India (USI/India).