UK envoy talks about the 1923 friendship treaty. Why is it important?

During her meeting with PM Dahal on Wednesday, British ambassador to Nepal, Nicola Politt, shared priorities of the 1923 friendship treaty. Historians have attached a great importance to this treaty.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The British ambassador to Nepal, Nicola Pollitt, has said that she shared priorities of the 1923 friendship treaty during her meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday.  While congratulating Prachanda on his appointment as the PM, the British envoy mentioned “priorities in the centenary year of 1923 Friendship Treaty.” “Our partnership is built on people to people ties, shared democratic values and supporting Nepal’s Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development,” Pollitt wrote on Twitter.

PM Dahal has mentioned that during the meeting they exchanged views on further deepening the bilateral relations between the two countries. Dahal, however, has not mentioned the 1923 treaty in his tweet. 

The 1923 treaty is a document signed between Nepal and British India on December 21, 1923 which provided Nepal an unrestricted independent status. 

Though the 1816 treaty of Sugauli between Nepal and British East India Company laid a foundation for Nepal-UK relations, the 1923 treaty, which is not talked about as much, has huge significance for Nepal. 

For one, the treaty provides Nepal the status of a free and independent state. Clause one of the treaty states: “Nepal and Britain will forever maintain peace and mutual friendship and respect each other’s internal and external independence.”

Celebrated scholar Leo E Rose has written in Nepal Strategy for Survival that with this treaty “Nepal finally obtained an unequivocal recognition of its independence.” According to Rose, getting the British to recognize Nepal’s sovereign status in the comity of nations was no mean achievement for the nation back then.

Historians in Nepal attach a great importance to the 1923 treaty with Britain. “This served as major documented evidence of Nepal’s sovereign and independent status when Nepal applied for the membership of the United Nations,” said Sujit Mainali, a Nepali historian. “Besides, stepping on the sovereign status clause of this treaty, Nepal began to establish bilateral relations with other countries. Nepal started diplomatic relations with the US in 1946.”  

According to Mainali, the 1923 treaty was instrumental for Nepal to consolidate its sovereign independent status in the later years and decades. “This indeed is an important document for Nepal,” he said.