A Brief Report On Foreign Policy And Changing
Notions of Human Rights
Organised by FES Nepal
6 January 2014, Sanepa
On the 6th of January 2014 Friedrich Ebert
Stiftung (FES Nepal) organized an interaction program on "Foreign
policy and changing notions of Human Rights" amongst its
youth network members. FES Youth Network is a collective network
formed by FES Nepal, connecting youths of different fields (students,
campaigners, activists, professionals, etc.). It organizes monthly
and sometimes quarterly interaction programs with its members,
dealing with contemporary and important issues of governmental
action and good governance. Guest speakers are invited to have
interaction with the participants.
Ms. Samira Paudel welcomed the fellow network
members and introduced FES Nepal as a foundation established
in the name of late German Prime Minister Friedrich Ebert. Since
1995 FES is working in Nepal, doing research and promoting knowledge
exchange on democratization, good governance policies, gender
equality, and other development mechanisms of the state.
Human rights are an indispensable factor empowering
the existence and survival of individuals in society. All citizens
exercise different forms of rights in dependence to their national
roots. Theoretically citizens of all over the world should have
the same rights, no matter on which part of the world they dwell.
However, it is well known that citizens of countries of the
global south are not equally entitled with necessary rights.
To interact on this issue, FES Nepal had organized a program
with its youth network members. Mr. Yubaraj Ghimire - veteran
media personality - was the resource person for the day. He
highlighted and shared some of the major issues of the subject.
Mr. Yubaraj Ghimire, Media Personality
Mr. Ghimire started his session by giving
brief information on the world historical background of human
rights and stated that human rights liberalism emerged during
the wars of religion in Europe, later followed by the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights after the 20th century World War.
The United Nations have recognized five sets of human rights
i.e. Civil Rights, Political Rights, Social & Economic Rights
and Cultural Rights. However, merely exercising one own's right
does not complete human rights ideologies. Later, a Right Based
Approach (RBA) emerged as an important principle of human rights,
stating that every right is driven by responsibility, accountability,
transparency and respect. It is essential that one must be grounded
with the basis of human rights and equally respect other's rights
and values, irrespective of their national or ethnical origins.
Similarly, there are different obligations of human rights that
require to protect the freedom of people as defined by the state
and the rule of law.
Out of all its inter-relation, human right
are closely linked with democracy. Human rights cannot be properly
exercised without having democracy. Vice versa democracy does
not sustain lacking human rights. The notions of democracy are
ever changing but accepting its core values is crucial.
In the context of Nepal, human rights and
democracy do exist to some extent but too many times it seemed
nothing more than written words, that are not being fight for.
Due to the lack of civic education and accountable institutions,
the full exercise of human rights and stability of good governance
still needs to be achieved. After the decade of Maoist revolutions,
an era of monarchy came to an end and led collapse the governing
authority. Indeed the revolution brought many positive changes
but with the end of monarchy, no authoritative body remained
to control the new actors. This in consequence led external
powers to influences Nepal's governance. Globally powerful countries
define democracy in their own ways. They link democracy with
country's economy, market strategy, military and nuclear power.
They with their own theologies of democracy and human rights
undermine the global south and therewith generate unequal dependencies.
The global spirit of human rights would therefore be always
threatened by the powerful. But human rights being an important
facet of personal freedom should be adopted and respected in
terms of responsibility and reciprocity. By signing a bilateral
agreements, a nation is obliged with some sort of restrictions;
however respecting the sovereignty of the state is essential.
Mr. Devraj Dahal, Head FES Nepal
Mr. Dahal stated that present human civilization
is the result of past transition of civilization, from theocentric
humanism, anthropocentric enlightenment-based humanism and colonial
exploitation. The new dawn of humanism is based on the web of
life of all living species. Along with human values, the notion
of rights is also changing. Each country possesses its own proud
history of democracy and humanitarians norms. Nepal in this
context has its own history of sovereignty and unity despite
of its tremendous diversity. Democracy of a state compiles of
1) national independence, 2) loyalty of citizen 3) immigration
control and 4) national conscription which are crucial for the
unified application of laws by the state in society. As the
young generation of the nation, Mr. Dahal requested the participants
to learn of the nation's history.
Foreign policy is analyzed through national,
international and global aspects. A state develops its strategies
in coherence of national interest and at the same time maintains
in exchange with other states. The democratic state of nation
requires to become sovereign. As a result, Nepal's governance
system is moving its focus from the country to the people.
Some participants also shared their understanding
and information about the topic and listed their queries with
Mr. Ghimire and Mr. Dahal. Please have the excerpts of the open
floor discussion below:
Mr. Chiranjibi Bhandari - Thanked Mr.
Ghimire for addressing human rights through the upper level
of understanding and information. From the time of its existence,
human rights have been linked with principles of Federalism,
Liberalism and Marxism respectively with their own different
interpretation. Human Rights are directly linked to foreign
policy but somehow the notions of foreign policy have been changing
and at present human rights are dependant on geo-strategic actions.
Ms. Sumira Shrestha - Agreed with the
opinion of Mr. Ghimire and the fellow members that human rights
share close linkage to democracy and ultimately to foreign policy.
But Nepalese leaders lack the essence of accountability and
transparency, two of the most crucial subfigure of democracy
and human rights. It is important that a democratic nation balances
all of its functioning mechanism equally. As for the foreign
intervention, check and balance principles should always be
maintained. These will eventually help the nation to reach the
state of good governance.
Mr. Nima Sherpa requested Mr. Ghimire
to give his opinion on the situation of human rights after the
10 years long insurgency period of Maoist in Nepal. Integration
and peace are commendable results of the insurgency but still
vital issues are ignored and the insurgency is somehow responsible
for present shortcomings. Mr. Sherpa furthermore states that
leaders should follow the peace agreement, avoiding any kind
of international intervention and show great effort to bring
the country to new dimensions of development and sovereignty.
Mr. Raj Timilsina raised his concern
over policy action and the seemingly unification of cultural
diversity and the impact of powerful states on Nepal. The resource
persons informed him that, with the evolving and overpowering
global culture, a state and its people should have the capacity
to assert their rights. Super powers treat other countries on
the basis of their own interest. Especially in times where states
are going through euphoria, powerful nations tend to be highly
intervening and influential. Nepal has also followed different
international declared documents in terms of human rights and
respected the generalized concept of human rights. Nonetheless,
being influenced and carried away would be two different ways
of impact. A state should never let external powers to undermine
After the floor discussion, Ms. Samira Paudel
announced the closing of the program and thanked all the participants
for their active involvement in the discussion. She also thanked
the resource persons for their valuable information sharing.
The program ended with the collection of evaluation of the participants
regarding the program.
Prepared by - Swarna