UNDP kicks off series of 'inclusive constitution-building' seminars

Mar 6, 2007

March 06, 2007

UNDP kicks off series of 'inclusive constitution-building' seminars Building a truly national constitution will require national engagement beyond participating in elections to the assembly. This is the key message that emerged from a conference hosted by UNDP in Kathmandu on March 3 and 4. The weekend conference brought together a broad spectrum of people from a diverse range of Nepal's political, professional, caste and ethnic groups.

The conference was the first in a series to be held in various parts of the country over the next months. The idea is to bring together experts, civil society, media, decision-makers and other key players to broaden the constitution-building debate.

"If Nepalese are to be true to the dream (the aspirations of the people's movement), the process of constitution making must be fully participatory," said constitutional expert and head of UNDP's Constitutional Advisory Support Unit, Professor Yash Ghai. Until now public debate around the issue has largely focused on elections to the assembly.

There are many ways in which broader participation can work, says Professor Ghai. Successful constitution-building process in other countries, for example, included extensive opportunities for ordinary people and civil society to discuss and comment on various drafts of an emerging constitution.

The first conference included international expert Professor Nicholas Haysom from South Africa, who was advisor to former President Nelson Mandela during the process of constitution making in that country. Since then he has helped to negotiate the constitutional settlement between the Sudanese government and Southern Sudan, and now heads the Office of Constitutional Support in Baghdad, advising on the Iraq constitution.

During the inaugural session, Professor Haysom said that in his experience, given the opportunity, people will participate enthusiastically in constitution-building processes. He also said that in order for the constitutions to be effective the ordinary person in the street must feel ownership of the process and the document's final shape. Constitutions imposed from above are rarely effective.

UNDP's support to the Peace Process continues....

UNDP moved quickly to support the peace process by carrying out several critical activities. One was to help pave the way for free and fair national elections by supporting the new UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to register Maoist combatants and store their weapons .

The total number of Maoist army combatants registered at the seven main and 21 satellite cantonment sites in the first phase is 30852. The total number of weapons registered so far is 3428.

UNMIN, with support from UNDP Nepal office, is in the process of registering members of the Maoist army currently engaged in leadership security arrangements or undergoing medical treatments outside the cantonment sites.

Contact informationFor more information please contact, Lisa Hiller 00-977-1-5523200/1060 or Sangita Khadka 00-977-1-5523200/1077

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