Last month, the Nepal government released its written commitments as part of the United States government-led Summit for Democracy—an effort to bolster and renew democratic action globally during a period of significant challenges for democracies around the world. While American influence in Nepal is certainly not uncontroversial—as we have seen with the renewed protests related to the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement recently—in a broader sense the S4D, as it is known, and the “Year of Action” it has now precipitated are an extraordinary opportunity to galvanise attention and mobilise international action to support democratic norms.
Sadly, the Nepal government has shown little commitment either to the S4D process or the fundamental democratic principles that it relates to, and the written commitments it has provided are so vague as to be almost unusable by any citizen, activist or journalist that might attempt to hold the government to account. The statement offers a variety of platitudes related to the importance of a “multi-party democratic polity” along with “checks and balances” and the “rule of law”. It makes just one very clear commitment that the victims of acid attacks will be compensated, which is commendable, although it does not go nearly far enough. On climate change, the government hopes to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, but there is no roadmap to get there. There are broader promises around gender equity and strengthening the capacity of the commissions related to transitional justice issues too, but specific, concrete goals are few and far between.