This academic article looks at how UN development agencies have been working to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights in Nepal in the absence of an international mandate to do so. The article suggests that such agencies have the ability to promote LGBTI rights using means beyond the traditional human rights institutions, such as the Human Rights Council.
The article examines the work of the UN Development Programme, the UN Children’s Fund, UNAIDS, and UN Women across South Asia, with a particular focus on Nepal. The research draws on documentary evidence of UN activities and semi-structured interviews in Kathmandu and New York in 2016.
The article outlines the development of the protection of SOGI related rights within the United Nations and highlights how such rights have been contested. Using Nepal as a case study, the article argues that UN development agencies can act independently within countries to promote SOGI rights. It further asserts that UN development agencies have started to be active in rights implementation, rather than just promotion.The article concludes by examining what the work of UN development agencies means for other international organisations and their ability to act independently of member states to promote their own rights promotion agenda through an ‘open systems’ approach to development.