Nepal’s foreign policy is shaped by its unique geography as a landlocked country sandwiched between India and China. To the north, the Himalayas form a natural barrier with China, and to the south, east, and west, Nepal is bordered by India. While Nepal relies on India for access to the sea and transportation facilities, it has traditionally sought to maintain its independence and autonomy from external interference.
In the 1950s, Nepal began to open up to the outside world and adopt a policy of neutrality and nonalignment. In 1973, King Birendra proposed that Nepal’s borders be declared a “zone of peace,” Since then, this concept has become a central theme of Nepal’s foreign policy. More than 110 countries have endorsed Nepal as a zone of peace, although the endorsement of India and the former Soviet Union has been elusive.
Nepal has diplomatic relations with around 100 countries and is a member of the United Nations and several of its specialized agencies. It is also a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and has participated in various bilateral and multilateral economic, cultural, and technical assistance programs. Nepal’s foreign policy primarily focuses on maintaining good relations with China and India and safeguarding its national security and independence. The country has also developed stronger relations with the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union in recent years.
Constitutionally, Nepal’s foreign policy is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, nonalignment, the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel), international law, and the value of world peace. In practice, foreign policy has not been focused on projecting global influence but rather on preserving Nepal’s autonomy and addressing domestic economic and security issues.
Nepal has strong ties with international economic institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and SAARC. It also has strong bilateral relations with major economic and military aid providers, such as France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Nepal is also a member of the World Trade Organization and has sought to expand its economic ties with other countries through trade and investment.