Border Diplomacy


Including Border Diplomacy

Buddhi N Shrestha

A national seminar entitled ‘Nepal’s Foreign Policy in the Changing Context’ was organized by the Constitutional Assembly International Relation and Human Rights Committee on 15 August 2011. The seminar was held at Constitutional Assembly Building, Lhotse Hall in BICC. The seminar was inaugurated by Honorable Subash Chandra Nemwang, Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly.

During the interaction time, some of the participants spoke about various types of diplomacy, such as economic diplomacy, basket diplomacy etc. But I spoke on the border diplomacy in relation to the foreign policy of Nepal.

In fact, Nepal’s foreign policy uses to be shaky time and often especially when there are incidents between Nepal and India and Nepal and China. Similarly, it fluctuates in connection to the changing relation between China and India. The most important thing is that border diplomacy has not yet mentioned in Nepal’s foreign policy.

If I have to talk about the border diplomacy, it is the art and practice of conducting international boundaries negotiations between nations. It usually refers international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace-making culture through mutual understanding.  Diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge or problem in a non-confrontational or polite manner. At the same time, border diplomacy is an enterprise which necessitates an untiring  supply of talented individuals with facts and figures to convey and convince foreign boundary and surveying experts, in one or the alternative way.

Nepal’s border diplomacy consists of two facets of the same coin. One is the border demarcation diplomacy and the other face is border management diplomacy.

1. Border Demarcation Diplomacy

  1. Border between two nations shall be demarcated in a joint working basis. Strip maps and GIS data concerning border business should be prepared and established jointly, since border is common to both nations.
  2. Boundary demarcation problems shall be resolved on the basis of friendship, brotherliness, mutual respect, understanding and reciprocity.
  3. Border shall be demarcated on basis of old maps, documents, data and reference materials.
  4. If there are differences in some segments of the borderline, that shall be settled with the formation of joint technical level committee and high level joint commission.
  5. Track-II diplomacy shall be adopted to find out the modality, ways and means to make study and research for the amicable settlement of the problems. Diplomats must prepare a solution paper on the basis of facts and figures. They must keep in touch with the counterpart Track-II diplomats of the neighboring country to find out the solution.
  6. Content of solution paper shall be discussed broadly on the political level and it should be passed by majority with some amendment and addition. Finally it shall be adopted as the ‘National Border Diplomacy or Policy’ of the nation. This guideline policy matter should be adopted and spoken by all political party leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats with the counterpart personnel.
  7. Finally, Head of Government must talk to his counterpart of neighboring country, on the basis of national border diplomacy to negotiate and solve the border demarcation problems.
  8. If there is no way out even on the level of Head of Government, the diplomacy tactic shall be taken to seek mediation diplomacy form the third country. Both the nations should be entrusted to the mediating country.
  9. If the mediation diplomacy is not successful or entrusted, then the next step shall be to knock the door of the international institutions or organizations, such as United Nations Security Council or International Court of Justice. But it is the virtue of a country to inform officially to the neighboring country, before going to the international organization for petition.
  10. The State shall go to the international organizations to seek justice, on the issue of border business, to preserve the national sovereignty and to maintain integrity.

1.1 Nepal-India border demarcation diplomacy

  1. It is said that 90 percent of Nepal-India border has been demarcated. 182 strip-maps have been prepared and 8,852 border pillars and markers have been established.
  2. There are problems in remaining 2 percent of the border line. It means nearly 38 kilometer of borderline has not yet demarcated, since there are 1,808 kilometer border between Nepal and India.
  3. Within the spotted span of 38 kilometer, there are encroachments, disputes, claims and counter-claims in more than 54 places, having 60,000 hectares in area. The largest chunk of encroachment is the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura in Darchula district and its area is nearly 37,000 hectare. The second disputed/encroached area is Susta, as 14,000 hectare in Nawalparasi district. Besides, there are disputes, claims and counter-claims in other 52 places having 9,000 hectare of land. The smallest piece of encroachment is 240 square meter (Nearly half a Ropani) of land, located at Phatak of Pashupatinagar Village Development Committee in Ilam district.
  4. These 2 percent (38 km) of unsettled spots should be handled as per the norms of border demarcation diplomacy, as stated in above mentioned heading number one.

1.2 Nepal-China border demarcation diplomacy

  1. Boundary Protocol shall be renewed with an interval of ten years, since the demarcation was completed and first Protocol was signed on 20 January 1963.
  2. Border line shall be supervised and monitored jointly and report should be prepared.
  3. Damaged and missing border pillars and markers shall be repaired and established accordingly.
  4. New strip-maps shall be prepared digitally on the basis of previous maps, adopting new technology, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) observations and establishment of Geographical Information System (GIS) data.
  5. India-Nepal-China Tri-junction Points (Zero Marker) shall be established on both ends of the border line with equal co-operation of both India and China.

2. Border Management Diplomacy

Border management diplomacy shall be adopted on the basis of dynamic equilibrium on both China and India. There is a quotation of the Late King Prithvi Narayan Shah the Great ‘Nepal is a yam between two boulders.’ But the situation has been changed and it has to be re-visualized in the changing context of not only Nepal, but also changing situation of China and India as well. Now it will not be exaggerated to say that ‘Nepal should be a bridge on two boulders.’

2.1 Nepal-China border management diplomacy

  1. Nepal and China has a regulated border management system.
  2. Not to allow anti-China activity from the Nepali soil, border out-post and immigration check-post shall be established just close to the border crossing points. Presently, these posts have been located ten-twenty kilometer far from the border line. For example, Lamabagar Police post at Dolakha district has been established 22 kilometer south of the border crossing-point. In fact, it should be established at Lapche Gaun.
  3. Policy to increase the number of border observation post (BOP) of Armed Police Force shall be adopted, so that illegal Tibetan infiltration will be checked.
  4. Nepali timber, Himalayan herbs like expensive Yarsagamba shall be checked, not to export illegally to Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, establishing BOPs close to border crossing-points.

2.2 Nepal-India border management diplomacy

  1. At present, there is an open border system. But it has not worked well in the matter of security concern of both the countries. So it shall be converted into regulated system in mutual co-operation with the perspective of security issue for both nations. Policy shall be taken to regulate the border in a phase wise basis.
  2. To start to regulate the open border, number of Armed Police Force shall be increased in the first phase. BOP should be established close to the border line, but not in No-man’s Land (Dasgaja Area). Presently, some of these posts have been located 2 to 4 kilometer towards Nepal side.
  3. In the second phase, identity card (ID Card) system should be introduced for the travelers, who cross the international border. But the frontier inhabitants, who are the residents with 5 kilometer of the border, should be permitted to cross the border many times a day.
  4. In the third phase, barbed-wire fencing shall be erected on the border. But there must be 181 exit/entry crossing-points, since the length of the border line is 1,808 kilometer. It’s high time to regulate Nepal-India border to obstruct cross-border terrorism, criminal activities, smuggling and counter-fit Indian currency notes. Regulated system shall be initiated with the joint decision, as the regulated system was implemented in air route with a joint decision, after the hijacking of Indian Aircraft from Kathmandu in 1999.


3. Last item

Study shall be made to know the feeling and intention of the people of both frontiers, on the alternatives of the existing open border regime. Policy shall be formulated according to their wish and need. If there are some chaos and irritants on the border, they will be the first and direct sufferer.

Policy for the integrated development (including physical, economic and social development) project in the frontier area shallbe formulated and implemented. Border area is a sensitive segment of the country. If there are some muddle and disturbances in border area, inhabitants of both the frontiers will be suffered directly in the very first stroke.

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