Probing the Indo-Nepal Dispute in the Kali River through International Law: An Unlawful Occupation of the Nepalese Territory?


Dr. Yubaraj Sangroula


Indo- Nepal Dispute, Unlawful Occupation, Border Encroachment, Self Determination, Sovereign Territory


On 5th September 2019, the House of Representatives of the Government of Nepal endorsed, unanimously, its new political map through a constitutional amendment. The amendment included Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani, the territory occupied by India since the 1960s, within Nepal‘s borders. The Government of India claimed that Nepal had claimed ̳Indian territory‘. In light of this need, this article proposes to probe Nepal‘s claim of ownership over the Lipiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani territory through an examination of historical facts, treaties, dialogues, and other relevant pieces of evidence. To do so, first, I examine the role of British colonialism in the present dispute between India and Nepal. In particular, I investigate the circumstances of various treaties, including the Sugauli Treaty, being concluded in 1816. Second, I review documents on Nepal‘s western border with India and ascertain whether Nepal‘s claims that the territories have always belonged to Nepal are valid. Third, I set out problems and difficulties that emerged in negotiating with post-independence India. Finally, I test the available options Nepal and India have, under international law and relations, to settle the present dispute. In doing so, I conclude—based on historical facts and several pieces of evidence— that Nepal‘s claim over the territories is legally credible and valid. Having established that, I argue that India‘s occupation of the Nepalese territory not only is a minor border dispute but could, arguably, constitute an act of aggression—an internationally wrongful act under international law. To conclude, I propose that the most viable option to resolve the current standoff is through peaceful dialogue and diplomacy, keeping in mind the historically and culturally significant affinities between the two closest neighbours: India and Nepal.

Abstract 403