Right Honorable President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari’s inaugural address to the Asia Regional Conference on International Law organized by Nepal International Law Society and Asian Society of International Law

Chairperson of the opening ceremony of this conference,

Participating scholars,

Our friends from the media,

Ladies and gentlemen!

I am greatly pleased to be invited to inaugurate this Asia- Regional Conference on International Law, jointly organized by the Nepal International Law Society and the Asian Society of International Law. It is indeed a matter of satisfaction today to be able to interact with the eminent scholars and enthusiasts of international law.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the delegates who have come to Nepal from different countries to attend this conference and to all those who are participating through video links owing to the circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic. I warmly welcome all the distinguished personalities who have come to participate in this conference from different parts of Nepal. I genuinely express my best wishes for the grand success of this conference.

It goes without saying that the study of law as an academic discipline covers an extensive field of social sciences. Organizing this important regional conference in Nepal on international law, a specialized area of law studies, you have succeeded in giving a good positive message to the world of law enthusiasts. This has created an opportunity for the scholars to share their knowledge and experience of research and practice of international laws in Nepal, while the new generation pursuing their academic future in this field has been further inspired.

An important goal of any international conference is to share knowledge, experience and development around the latest principles and practices on the subject through mutual exchanges. I expect that this conference will make a substantial contribution to the field of international law by advancing the academic relation, friendship, and discussion among the delegates far beyond this event.

Dear delegates,

International laws guide internal policies of a country in certain areas, but they primarily provide framework for the conduct of international relations in general. With regards to the process of observing and maintaining international relations, Nepal’s fundamental views have been outlined in our constitution. Accordingly, Nepal has been strongly advocating and following non-aligned foreign policy over the last seven decades with a profound belief that it provides a foundation for protecting our sovereignty and national integrity.

Nepal is opposed to all forms of war and believes that any dispute between nations should be resolved through peaceful means. We strongly believe, the nuclear arms race in the world should stop. Nepal has a clear view that only the policy of non-aggression, non-intervention, and the spirit of friendship based on the Charter of the United Nations and the principle of peaceful coexistence as pronounced by Panchasheel contributes to the adherence to, and development of the existing international laws.

I would like to draw the attention of this scholarly conference to the history of Nepal’s significant contribution to the development of international laws based on our specific historical experiences, shifting dimensions of international relations, and our geographical location. I, therefore, think it appropriate to remember on this occasion the historic role played by Nepal in creating and developing the “Law of the Sea,” which guarantees the right of unconditional transit to the landlocked countries.

Based on the guidance of this law, Nepal has not only been advocating for the transit rights of all the landlocked countries of the world, but has also achieved remarkable success by taking concrete initiatives to establish Nepal’s access to the sea through friendly countries. From this conference, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the friendly nations that have supported Nepal in this effort. We will continue to pursue this course in the future too.

We are aware of the contemporary world rhetoric that nations should play their role in maintaining the “rules-based international order” according to the spirit of international laws. Let me stress- the simple and clear purpose of the rules and laws is to establish justice. Therefore, today’s world order must certainly be based on rules, but that alone is not going to be sufficient. I call upon this conference to deliberate on the issue of justice-based international order which I believe will be taking the rule-based order a notch higher towards more fairness and equity. If this happens, this conference will be making a great contribution to the development of international laws.

Dear Friends,

Climate change has emerged as a major challenge of the world today. Why I take up this agenda here is that despite many international conventions on climate change over the past three decades, it is my experience that adequate international laws are yet to be formulated to protect the interest of mountain-nations like Nepal and many island-nations across the world.

I believe that only a world order based on justice will help seriously appreciate the specific needs of the countries like ours and articulate policies accordingly. Since justice is related to obligation and responsibility, the commitment made by the nations of the world to reduce the effects of climate change can only be achieved when every country has an attitude towards justice with a deep sense of it.

The standing of the countries of the world differs in terms of their geography, population, development and national capacity. However, from the point of view of international law, I firmly believe that the sovereignty of all countries is equal and will remain so. It is this very principle of sovereign equality that the international laws must advance and protect.

Through this conference, I would like to reiterate that Nepal is always committed to the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the bilateral and multilateral treaties, conventions, and covenants it has signed and is determined to implement them fairly.

I am confident that the eminent scholars here will engage in fruitful and intensive debates on various themes of international law. With the success of this event, Nepal’s distinctive identity will further expand in the international arena and Nepal’s contribution to the development of international laws will be established.

Finally, allow me to wish a grand success of this significant conference once again. I thank you for your patience.

Thank you.

Nepal Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur

Saturday, 30 July 2022