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It is the economic blockade: Professor Surya Subedi

Continuous Terai movement and the obstacles at the Nepal-India border have created acute shortage of petroleum products, life-saving drugs and other daily essentials throughout the Nepal during these several weeks. UN and several international organizations has already alerted and warned that the present situation could bring humanitarian crisis especially towards the earthquake affected region.
It has been explained by many that due to Indian government dissatisfaction over the Nepal’s new constitution the obstacles has been created at the border and it has violated the rights of the landlocked countries and several international laws. Despite of this the government has been abundantly criticized for not being able to raise the issue of undeclared blockade by India in the international forum effectively. Regarding this issue there has been the conversation with the Professor and experts of International laws at the University of Leeds, Surya Subedi by the BBC Nepali Service correspondent Mahesh Acharya, let’s go through the edited version of the conversation.

Question: How could the issue of obstacles at Nepal-India border points be internationalized?
Answer: It has to follow three steps to internationalize the issue. First of all Nepal government has to come up with concrete opinion over the issue, either it is economic blockade or not. Secondly, Nepal has to come up with “position paper” regarding the issue, it won’t be counted what ministers and other remarks while giving speech at different functions or in interview. Comprising the experts of Laws the government should prepare the position paper strictly including the situation of Nepal, Nepal’s right and what is unacceptable regarding Indian’s demands. In comparison to 1989 situation Nepal is more stronger under the international rights in these days, Nepal was not member of former GATT on those days or which we call these days World Trade Organization. Nepal has accepted 1982 treaty approved by the UN that addresses international rules allowing for land-locked countries to transport goods to and from seaports, it has also mentioned the provision for solving the issue between two countries to through the establishment of judicial and semi-judicial body too.
We can knock the door of international judicial and quasi judicial body regarding the present situation. The door knocking moment might haven’t reached yet but if the international community’s gets signal that Nepal is under preparation to do it,I consider it will really create great pressure to India.

Question: As you have told that Nepal should officially declare either it is blockade or not, as many of Nepalese has commenting it as the undeclared blockade what do you think it’s all about?
Answer: In fact, it is the economic blockade. Relying on the information I have gained and as per the international laws point of view it is a kind of economic blockade. Now Nepal has a strong base to raise the issue at international bodies regarding the economic blockade.

Question: As some people has been telling that it is not the complete economical blockade as there has been an import of good from some check points and several check points are not comparatively tight too?
Answer: We might not term it as fully blockade but it is the economic blockade. It’s not only political and legal issue its humanitarian issue too. There has been supply off essential commodities, medicine is not well supplied, it has really created the humanitarian problems much more above the legal one. People suffering from natural disasters has been seriously affected by such inhuman and man-made disaster. Following the international treaty too Nepal could use all the checkpoints that has been traditionally in use. Now is not the case. For the country like India which is emerging as powerful countries to lead the world could solve the issue easily. Though the main checkpoint at Birgunj is being obstructed from where maximum petroleum product s gets enter Nepal, India could go for alternative checkpoint and make the supply chain regular and for India it’s no big deal too.

Question: In accordance with the second option you advised how could it be Internationalize raising the issue at the World Trade Organization?
Answer: A written complain letter should be submitted mentioning the presence blockade evidences and simultaneously reference of the international rights regarding the situation and it violation should be mention clearly as a reason behind the registration of complain.

Question: Which law of the World Trade Organization has been violated by this incident?
Answer: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a multilateral agreement regulating international trade and it’s the foundation of WTO which has been formulated in 1947. According to its preamble, its purpose was the “substantial reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers and the elimination of preferences, on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis. So we can reach as its getting violated and secondly as per Transit Trade of Land-locked States agreement it clearly mentioned the international rules allowing for land-locked countries to transport goods to and from seaports so we can drag attention relying on these laws as those has been severely violated by Indian side.

Question: However, despite these legal provisions, as India did not supply because of the security reason will these legal provisions hear able?

Answer: Yes, that is an exception but at the present situation Indian doesn’t have strong reason to defend its claim that it has been created due to security reasons. That kind of legal measures can only be adopted by India if the actions of Nepal, Nepal import and export goods mechanism creates any security threat and hassles in their sides. I have not seen any adverse impact over the Indian’s security due to it so it’s not logical to connect the other issue with security reasons.

Question: In other case excluding this exception, if there is the violation of international law will the concern body directives be forceful to India or not?
Answer: The World Trade Organization judicial body’s decision will be forceful to India. Dispute Settlement Body’s decision will be also enforce, but Nepal government should register the case by itself.

Question: If Nepal hasn’t gone for it, could any international agencies do anything gathering the information on current situation of Nepal?
Answer: Political and diplomatic way of their approach is there but those won’t have any legal basis. We could not obtain legal remedies with the approach of those not having legal status. Of course, It is a kind of internationalization tool but it is a little weaker approach too.

Question: In spite of this situation, some are saying that Nepal couldn’t internationalize the issue and others are saying that as Nepal is very dependent to India it will create more negative environment with their bilateral relationship if it gets the internationalization.
Answer: Every different individual could have different opinion. While we demand our rights on the basis of international law is not angering India, and India shouldn’t also think in that way. I believe that following the international legal regime which has been accepted by the world would be better for internationalization that being without politicization.

Published Date: Thursday, November 19th, 2015 | 07:42 AM

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