Marking the centenary of Nepal - UK Friendsip Treaty
The 6th meeting of Nepal-United Kingdom Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) is scueduled to take place in London on April 26, 2023. The meeting will take stock of the diverse areas of Nepal-UK engagements including development partnership and climate cooperation, trade and investment, education, tourism and other aspects of people-to-people connection, and British Gurkha, among other matters, according to a statement issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To attend the meeting, Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal is leading a Nepali delegation which includes senior officials of the Government of Nepal. This year marks the centenary of the Friendship Treaty signed between Nepal and the United Kingdom. The Foreign Secretary will also be engaged in other official meetings and programmes during the visit.
The significance of Nepal – British Treaty of 1923
Exactly 100 years ago, the Rana ruler of Nepal signed a treaty with British India that attempts to redress the humiliation that the Gorkha regime suffered after its defeat in Anglo-Nepal war and the signing of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.
To celebrate the new treaty on 21 December 1923, then Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher Rana decreed two days of national holidays, freed prisoners from jails, and temporarily lifted the ban on gambling.
‘The signing of Nepal – Britain treaty of 1923 was a national festival with public buildings illuminated and joy on the streets,’ Noted diplomat Sirdar Bhim Bahadur Pande writes in his memoir Tyas Bakhat ko Nepal. ‘Nepal had finally managed to erase the disgrace suffered 107 years ago with the Sugauli Treaty.’
The Nepal–Britain Treaty was first discussed in 1921 and the final treaty was signed on 21 December 1923 in Singha Durbar.The treaty was the first formal acknowledgement by the British government that Nepal, as an independent nation, had the right to conduct its foreign policy in any way it saw fit and was considered to be “a great achievement of 25 years of Chandra Shumsher’s diplomacy.”The treaty was recorded in 1925 in the League of Nations.
There were some clauses in the Sugauli Treaty which reduces Nepal to a semi-independent country.
The then Prime Minister of Nepal, Chandra Shamsher wanted to conclude a treaty with Britain for the recognition of the independence of Nepal. Aware of the implied restrictions placed upon the foreign policy of Nepal by the Sugauli Treaty, he wanted Nepal to be recognized as a fully sovereign state. In 1921, during the visit of the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII, to Nepal, Chandra Shumsher raised the question of preparing a new peace treaty between Nepal and Britain. The treaty was discussed by the British authorities in Kathmandu, Nepal and London for more than a year before the final treaty was signed, 21 December 1923, in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu. The treaty declared Nepal as an independent and sovereign state.