Since the conclusion of the peace agreement in November 2006, Nepal has embarked on the challenges associated with comprehensive social and political transformation. The civil war lasted for ten years and involved the Nepalese monarchy and army, on the one hand, and Maoist forces on the other, with the two sides vying for control of the country’s social and political institutions and access to its economic resources. By the time it ended, the war had claimed more than 12,000 lives, with tens of thousands of people becoming internally displaced or being forced to flee abroad. The task now is to analyse its causes as part of the peace process and investigate the human rights abuses committed during the conflict. The Nepalese Constituent Assembly elected in April 2008 is mandated to draft and adopt a new constitution as the basis for a comprehensive reform of the country’s political, social and economic system. The establishment of federal structures, the creation of economic prospects for all sections of society, and a social system which gives recognition to every individual, irrespective of origin, are just some of the challenges on the agenda.
The urgency of these processes is highlighted, not least, by the renewed outbreak of violence, involving new political factions, soon after the conclusion of the peace agreement. At the same time, the political and constitutional process has stalled: in May 2009, the Maoist-led government collapsed, more than ten rounds of run-off voting were required to elect a new prime minister, the adoption of the new constitution has been postponed for several times and elections have been announced ahain for mid 2013.
This situation confronts development and peace organisations with numerous challenges.
- What are the relevant processes for external organisations to promote political, social and economic participation in Nepal?
- Which actors and institutions are appropriate partners in this context?
- Which internal reforms can be supported in local organisations and institutions as a means of credibly contributing to the social and political agenda?
FriEnt has been involved in working meetings on Nepal initiated by a number of development and human rights organisations, and assists the members with their selection and discussion of relevant themes. Over the past years, the judicial and social reckoning with the conflict, including an examination of the abuses of economic and social rights underlying the conflict and the violations of civil and political rights during the war, was a key issue on the agenda for the working group meetings. Other topics included the constitutional process, the development of a federal political system, the involvement of economic actors in the peace process, and the role of old elites and new leaders. The respective roles of state and civil society organisations in the reform process are also a particular focus of interest. The outcomes of the working group meetings are channelled into programmatic work and into the partnership-based dialogue between the member organisations, and help to create new entry points for supporting social transformation processes.