UNDP helps foster lasting peace in Nepal
December 2006; Within seven short months a 'people's movement' that began with almost a million citizens taking to the streets of Kathmandu has cumulated into a peace process that could end almost 11 years of violent conflict in Nepal. The movement demanded that the King return power to parliament, and that a new national constitution be built to reflect Nepal's diversity.
It is now widely acknowledged that Nepal's conflict is born out of the systematic exclusion of large segments of the population. Nepalese society is deeply divided along caste and ethnic lines. Traditionally members of 'lower castes', people from ethnic groups and women have been excluded from decision-making, and had less access to jobs, education and other opportunities. Experts believe that if Nepal is to secure lasting peace, exclusion must be comprehensively addressed. Building a new constitution, so that it is inclusive, is seen as a critical step towards doing this.
But there is little knowledge among the public, media, civil society and the national leadership about how to successfully build an inclusive constitution.
UNDP has moved quickly to launch an initiative that seeks to improve capacities and the readiness of key national actors and the public at large to participate in a successful constitution building process. Already a small team, lead by the distinguished constitutional expert Professor Yash Ghai, has been set-up. This team now provides advice and expert technical support to decision makers, civil society and other key players.
At the same time, UNDP is gearing up to assist civil society in their efforts to improve understanding about the constituent assembly process by helping to produce civic education material, hold national seminars and information workshops.
Picture: In April thousands of protestors including this young boy took to the streets of Kathmandu demanding a return to democracy and a new constitution
(photo: Nigel-Hiller Garvey)