Kathmandu: The United Kingdom has reiterated that it will maintain peace, friendship and independence with Nepal, while continuing its support for various aspects of development of the Himalayan nation, with which the country shares the oldest diplomatic relations. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the British Minister for Indo-Pacific for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), reiterated this commitment during her visit to Nepal.
Addressing a program organized by the British Embassy in Kathmandu on Wednesday in the capital to mark one hundred years of the Nepal-UK Treaty of Friendship, Trevelyan said the deep-seated relationship between the UK and Nepal and ties between the people of the two countries have grown and strengthened over the century.
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 has a huge significance for Nepal. The treaty provided 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.”
Historians have described the treaty as a milestone in Nepal’s relations with the outside world.
During the program, Anne-Marie Trevelyan recalled the history of the Nepal-UK relationship and said the UK attaches a great importance to this relationship. “The UK is Nepal’s oldest bilateral relationship. We have had a permanent diplomatic mission here since 1816, and Nepal’s mission in London is the country’s oldest too,” she said. “I am particularly delighted as we mark 100 years since the signing of the UK-Nepal Treaty of Friendship.”
She called Nepal a uniquely close and valued partner in the Indo Pacific region adding that UK is committed to the principles of the treaty signed 100 years ago. According to her, Nepal-UK partnership has grown organically over our long histories. “The Nepali and British drafters of the Friendship Treaty wrote that Nepal and Britain will forever maintain peace and mutual friendship, and respect each other’s internal and external independence,” she said. “The UK remains as committed to those principles, as we were a 100 years ago.”
The British minister said that UK Aid has supported Nepal’s development over many years and helped millions of Nepalis out of poverty. “And when the devastating earthquake struck in 2015, we not only provided £100 million to support your recovery but our search and rescue teams were among the first international responders,” she said.
According to her, UK’s support to Nepal today focuses on economic growth and trade, on climate and resilience, on girls’ education and inclusion, and on strengthening stability within Nepal. “UK programmes have enhanced the resilience of almost 300,000 people to climatic extremes,” said the minister.
The minister lauded the role played by the Gurkhas in the Nepal-UK relationship. “The Gurkhas are key ambassadors for our relationship,” she said. “Since 1815, over 270,000 Nepali men have served the British Army in the brigade of Gurkhas. Over 4,000 serve today, including 204 young men who joined last month. The UK Government and the British people recognise the incredible contribution and sacrifice they have made and continue to make.”
She described Nepal as an ally in defense of the rules based international system, and appreciated Nepal for condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We all depend on the UN Charter and the Rules Based International System, so we welcomed Nepal’s support in the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council for resolutions that condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” she said.
While mentioning that climate change is the greatest threat facing us all she thanked the government of Nepal for being a strong ally at COP26 and for committing to be net zero by 2045. “The UK will continue to support Nepal’s fight against climate change. We have committed £350m of climate finance to Nepal over the past five years,” said the minister.
The discussion program held to mark 100 years of the 1923 treaty was moderated by Kunda Dixit, publisher of Nepali Times.
(Photo courtesy: Twitter handle of British Embassy in Nepal)