United Nations chief calls for justice for insurgency victimsVows support for peace process while stressing adherence to international standards.
The visiting United Nations Secretary General António Guterres sent a strong message to Nepali politicians on Sunday, emphasising the need for Nepal’s transitional justice system to meet international standards.
Guterres, who landed in Kathmandu on Sunday morning on a four-day visit, held talks with President Ramchandra Paudel, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Purna Bahadur Khadka and Foreign Minister NP Saud in the afternoon and discussed key priorities of Nepal and the United Nations, including the transitional justice process, which has been in limbo since 2006, effects of climate change, Nepal’s contribution to UN peacekeeping, and its graduation from a least developed country.
Addressing media persons after meeting Prime Minister Dahal, Guterres said, “The United Nations stands ready to support Nepal to develop a process that meets international standards, the Supreme Court’s rulings, and the needs of victims—and to put it into practice.”
At the meeting between Dahal and Guterres, the two discussed ways to conclude the protracted peace process, and the status of the transitional justice-related bills currently in Parliament, among other things.
Since the signing of the comprehensive peace accord in 2006, there have been calls from several quarters including the victims of the decade-long insurgency and international community that Nepal’s peace process should align with international standards, it should be victim-centric, and there should be no amnesty for those involved in grave rights abuses.
“The next few years will be decisive, as Nepal prepares to graduate from the least developed country status,” said Guteress, “and as it embarks on the final stages of the peace process, transitional justice must help bring peace to victims, families and communities.”
In his meeting with Speaker Devraj Ghimire, Deuba, Oli and Saud, the completion of the peace process and seeking the UN’s role as facilitator dominated the agenda.
“We have requested the United Nations to help take the peace process to its logical end,” Dahal said in his joint press briefing.
“Nepal’s peace process is in its final stage. In order to take it to a logical conclusion, we have emphasised the role of the UN secretary general. To facilitate coordination and cooperation with the international community, we hope that the United Nations will extend further support to Nepal,” said Dahal.
Guterres arrived in Kathmandu in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war. He has been calling for a ceasefire between the warring sides to end the suffering in the Gaza Strip.
“As Guterres is familiar with Nepal’s political climate, we had cordial and frank exchanges,” said Dahal. “And we discussed several issues of mutual interest as well as coordination and facilitation from the international community on several issues, particularly in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change. We also discussed ways to reduce the impact of climate change in Nepal.”
“I am here in Kathmandu to strengthen the deep friendship between Nepal and the United Nations. This country has a long and proud tradition of championing peace and multilateralism. And the United Nations is hugely grateful to Nepal for your support for multilateral solutions backed up by the enormous contribution you make to peacekeeping missions around the world,” said Guterres.
“Nepal’s progress over the past 20 years has been astonishing,” he added. “You have become a republic, established peace, and thrown yourselves behind the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action.”
Touching on the issue of climate change, Guterres said, Nepal is also caught in a blizzard of global crises not of its making: the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, inflation, and the enormous threat posed by climate chaos.
“Much more international action is needed. Developed countries must step up to support sustainable development, and help developing economies including Nepal to tackle the climate crisis. On this trip, I will visit the Himalayas to see for myself the terrible impact of the climate crisis on the glaciers.”
He is visiting the Everest region as well as the Annapurna Base Camp in order to see first hand the implications of the climate crisis and will interact with the local communities to get a sense of how livelihoods have been affected.
“The situation is dire and it is accelerating. Nepal has lost close to a third of its ice in just over thirty years,” he said.
“And glaciers are melting at record rates. The impact on communities is devastating and I will meet local people in the Himalayas to hear directly from them... I will also travel to Pokhara and to Lumbini, to reflect on Lord Buddha’s teachings of peace and non-violence, which are more relevant than ever in our deeply troubled world,” said Guterres.
This is his second visit to Nepal after 2007, when came the chief of the United Nations refugee agency and visited the Bhutanese refugee camps.
“And I want to explore how the United Nations and Nepal can work together even more to solve problems, boost prospects, and improve international support,” Guterres said while assuring support to Nepal in the fight against the climate crisis, adding, “though Nepal is a friend to the world, the world must be a better friend to Nepal.”
Call for Gaza ceasefire
Guterres called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Thousands of innocent people including children have been killed on both sides since a surprise attack by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7 and retaliatory action by Israel.
Guterres, who arrived in Kathmandu after meeting Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza,” he said in a statement after meeting Prime Minister Dahal.
“We must join forces to end this nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel and all those affected around the world, including here in Nepal,” he added.
“These are difficult and tense times. I know that even though the conflict in the Middle East is thousands of miles away, it has hit very close to home for the people of Nepal. I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the 10 Nepali students killed in the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October, and my best wishes for the safe return of Mr Bipin Joshi, who is missing,” said Guterres. “I have just arrived here from Qatar and will continue to insist on the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages in Gaza,” he added.
“The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, Israel has intensified its military operations. The number of civilians who have been killed and injured is totally unacceptable.”
Despite repeated calls from different quarters for a ceasefire, Israel has not stopped its military offensive on Gaza.
“The protection of civilians is paramount. The Laws of War establish clear rules to protect human life and respect humanitarian concerns. Those laws cannot be contorted for the sake of expediency. The world is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe taking place before our eyes.”
More than two million people, with nowhere safe to go, are being denied the essentials for life—food, water, shelter and medical care, while being subjected to relentless bombardment, Guterres added.
“I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink.”