Everything You Wanted to Know About the UN role in Nepal’s peace process. Here is first of the two parts of the “report of the Secretary-General on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process” Here is second part.
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to the Security Council’s presidential statement of 1 December 2006 (S/PRST/2006/49). The statement welcomed the signing on 21 November 2006 of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nepal and welcomed and expressed support for my intention to send a technical assessment mission to Nepal, with a view to proposing a fully developed concept of operations, including a United Nations political mission to deliver the assistance requested by the Nepalese parties to the peace process, and to dispatch an advance deployment of essential personnel of up to 35 monitors and 25 electoral personnel. The Council expressed its readiness to consider my formal proposals as soon as the technical assessment mission was complete.
2. In addition to giving a brief historical background on the situation leading up to the request of the Government for United Nations assistance and covering the latest developments since the Security Council made its statement on 1 December, the present report presents recommendations on the future role of the United Nations in support of Nepal’s peace process. The report draws on the findings of the assessment mission led by my Personal Representative, Ian Martin, from 9 to 17 December 2006. I have also drawn on the findings of my Personal Representative and his team preceding the assessment mission, the work of the United Nations country team, and previous short missions.
3. The proposals in the report respond to the requests transmitted in separate letters dated 9 August 2006 by Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal, and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or CPN(M) (S/2006/920, annexes I and II) as well as the 16 November 2006 letter from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, K. P. Sharma Oli, reiterating the request for United Nations assistance (S/2006/920, annex III).
4. Since 1990, Nepal has undergone considerable turbulence in its attempt to embrace more open political and economic systems. Despite achieving democratic rule in April 1990 in the wake of a “people’s Movement”, the country soon faced internal armed conflict after CPN(M) launched an insurgency in 1996. While in its early stages this conflict was largely confined to the mid-western regions, it steadily gained momentum, and the response of the security services further alienated substantial sections of the population. Both the Maoist insurgents and the security forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. Many of the victims were civilians targeted by the armed actors or caught up in indiscriminate violence. The estimates of those who disappeared during the decade of armed conflict broadly range from 1,000 to 5,000 people. Tens of thousands were displaced as a result of the war and sexual violence was common. The conflict was also characterized by consistent patterns of impunity for serious human rights abuses.
Numerous minors, including girls, were involved in the conflict as Maoist army combatants, while the armies of both sides utilized minors as messengers, sentinels, informers, cooks and in other support functions, including paramilitary activities. The conflict also increased women’s visibility. Many women and girls joined the Maoist army, making up an estimated 40 per cent of combatants. In villages and across civil society women began to take on leadership roles; many women and girls meanwhile were made more vulnerable, subjected to displacement and sexual exploitation.
5. Nepal faced a deepening crisis of governance after the collapse of the first ceasefire and peace talks between the Government of Nepal and CPN(M) in 2001 and the suspension of Parliament in 2002. In October 2002, King Gyanendra, who had acceded to the throne following the death of his brother, King Birendra, in the June 2001 palace massacre, dismissed the Prime Minister and ruled until February 2005 through a series of appointed Prime Ministers. A second ceasefire and peace talks between the Government and CPN(M) collapsed in August 2003 in an
atmosphere of mutual mistrust. The casualty rates from the war rapidly soared.
6. On 1 February 2005, King Gyanendra dismissed his appointed Prime Minister and ministers and assumed executive powers while directing a harsh crackdown on mainstream democratic parties, the media and civil society. The King’s assumption of sweeping and direct authority threatened to prolong and escalate the conflict while creating a risk of State collapse. At the same time, the King’s policies and their failure to bring about peace united disparate political and social forces against royal rule and towards a common basis for the restoration of democracy and longterm peace.
7. In November 2005, the Seven-Party Alliance of parliamentary parties and CPN(M) signed a 12-point understanding vowing to “establish absolute democracy by ending autocratic monarchy”. CPN(M) expressed its commitment to democratic norms and values including competitive multiparty politics, civil liberties, human rights, the rule of law and fundamental rights. The Seven-Party Alliance embraced the long-held main CPN(M) demand for a Constituent Assembly to determine the future form of government. Both sides expressed their desire for the United Nations to play an important role in the peace process leading to the election of a Constituent Assembly. The ground-breaking understanding, coupled with the Nepalese people’s strong desire for peace and the restoration of democracy, helped establish the foundation for the emergence of a broad-based people’s movement. In April 2006, mass demonstrations across the country, with strong participation by women and marginalized groups, brought an end to the King’s direct rule, led to the restoration of Parliament and a mutual ceasefire, and opened the way for further negotiations between the Alliance and CPN(M).
8. On 21 November 2006, the parties signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, consolidating earlier agreements and understandings, and declared an end to the war. This historic achievement was the culmination of a year-long process of negotiation between the signatories and an expression of the widespread desire of the people of Nepal to end a conflict that had claimed more than 13,000 lives. All parties have agreed to the election of a Constituent Assembly as the foundation for a more inclusive democratic system able to address the country’s persistent problems of social exclusion. However, marginalized groups, including women, have expressed concerns that the planned mixed electoral system will not ensure their adequate representation.
III. Recent political developments
9. For the last several years my predecessor has been closely engaged, primarily through the Department of Political Affairs, with key national, regional and international actors in an effort to encourage an early and peaceful resolution of the crisis through an inclusive process of national dialogue.
10. Following a formal request in July 2006 from the Government of Nepal for United Nations assistance, a pre-assessment mission led by Staffan de Mistura was dispatched to Nepal that same month. The mission helped the parties to narrow their differences on the management of arms and armed personnel and the United Nations role in it, which enabled them to address separate but identically worded letters to me on 9 August 2006 (S/2006/920, annexes I and II). The pre-assessment mission recommended the appointment of a senior United Nations political interlocutor to be based in Nepal, supported by a small team of advisers in each of the areas relating to the request for United Nations assistance. This initial political office in Nepal, established with the appointment of Ian Martin as Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in late August 2006, has been instrumental in forging a consensus between the parties on the specifics of the United Nations role in the peace process.
11. On 8 November 2006, the Seven-Party Alliance and CPN(M) reached a broad agreement which, in addition to settling key aspects of the political transition, defined the basic arrangements for the cantonment of the combatants of the Maoist army, the restriction of the Nepal Army to its barracks and the arrangements for the storage of arms and munitions during the transition period leading to the election of the Constituent Assembly, all of which would be monitored by the United Nations.
12. In his letter of 16 November 2006 (S/2006/920, annex III), the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal reiterated the two sides’ request for United Nations assistance in several areas: continued human rights monitoring through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), monitoring of arms and armed personnel, electoral monitoring and assistance, and assistance in the monitoring of the ceasefire code of conduct.
Discussions following the appointment of a Chief Election Commissioner in October 2006 considerably clarified the assistance required by the Election Commission.
13. With the 21 November 2006 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the parties committed themselves to finalizing and promulgating an interim constitution, forming an interim assembly and establishing an interim Government, and determining the fate of the monarchy in the first meeting of a Constituent Assembly. The election for this new body is slated to be held by mid-June 2007. The Constituent Assembly would be charged with fundamental decisions of State restructuring. The establishment of the interim Government, in which CPN(M) would participate, was linked to the schedule for the management of arms and armies.
14. The accord also incorporated the basic arrangements for the cantonment of the combatants of the Maoist army, the restriction of the Nepal Army to its barracks and the storage of the arms and munitions of both sides. The Interim Council of Ministers was charged with taking action to democratize the Nepal Army and establishing a special committee to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate Maoist combatants. The parties also agreed to constitute a National Peace and
Rehabilitation Commission, as well as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe into violations of human rights and crimes against humanity in the course of the conflict.
15. Commitments to end all forms of feudalism, promote greater inclusion of marginalized groups and prepare for the socio-economic transformation of Nepal were central to the accord. The accord also called for “proportional representation of oppressed groups, regions, Madhesis, women, Dalit and other groups”, although the operational details of this profound commitment were not clear.
16. In a letter dated on 22 November addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2006/920), my predecessor sought the Council’s agreement to the dispatch of an assessment mission and the deployment of an advance group of up to 35 monitors and 25 electoral personnel to Nepal. He also informed the Council that once the consultations with the parties had progressed sufficiently and the logistical support and security requirements for a full-fledged mission had been assessed, he would propose to the Council a concept of operations for carrying out the required tasks. The Council, in its presidential statement of 1 December 2006
(S/PRST/2006/49), welcomed this proposed course.
17. On 28 November, following tripartite negotiations with the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General and his advisers, the parties reached an agreement on modalities for the monitoring of arms and armies which extensively detailed the arrangements for United Nations monitoring. My Personal Representative signed this agreement as a witness on 8 December 2006.
18. While Nepal has made remarkable progress towards peace, the magnitude of the tasks ahead and the potential threats to the peace process must not be underestimated. During the conflict, normal government functions ceased across wide swathes of Nepal. Close to 70 per cent of village-level administrators were displaced. To date, the Nepal Police have only re-established some 300 out of roughly 1,300 pre-conflict stations and posts. If the Government fails to restore
local government, there will be a clear lack of equal democratic space for all political forces in advance of the election. Rising crime rates linked to the prevailing security vacuum are also a serious concern, and if Nepal fails to facilitate the integration of CPN(M) combatants and others operating in paramilitary structures, many of whom are young people and children, unrest could mar the election and post-election climate.
19. All parties have committed themselves to moving forward rapidly with the Constituent Assembly election, and the operational challenges in adhering to this timetable are considerable. Given the lack of Government presence in the countryside, conducting a credible election by mid-June of 2007 will challenge the capacity of all involved. Similarly, a failure to provide basic public services to conflict-affected communities could result in dangerously unfulfilled expectations.
20. The debate over the country’s political future could also swiftly exacerbate ethnic, regional, linguistic and other tensions. If Nepal fails to meaningfully include traditionally marginalized groups in the peace process and in the election, and in the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly, the country will lose a crucial opportunity to harness the strength and vision of its own people and leave some of the key underlying causes of the conflict unaddressed. In addition, the exclusion of women from participation in public life, and so far from the peace process, has been almost total. The promise of 33 per cent representation for women in all decision making structures has not been realized in existing peace process structures such as the Peace Committee and the Interim Constitution Drafting Committee. It is urgent that the Nepalese parties open the door to the role that women can and should play in the process, as reflected in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
IV. Assessment mission
21. In order to develop an integrated concept of operations for a United Nations political mission in Nepal, I dispatched a multidisciplinary assessment mission to Nepal from 9 to 17 December. The mission was led by my Personal Representative and comprised the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal; representatives of the Departments of Political Affairs, Peacekeeping Operations, Public Information and Safety and Security; staff of the Office of the Personal Representative; the representatives in Nepal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and other members of the United Nations country team. The mission built upon the planning and assessment already carried out by my Personal Representative and his team and by previous short missions.
22. In order to determine how best the proposed United Nations political mission could deliver the requested assistance in support of the peace process, the mission conducted a thorough assessment of the present political, security, human rights, humanitarian, social and military situation in Nepal. In the course of the mission, my Personal Representative continued to hold consultations with Prime Minister Koirala, CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda and other political leaders, as well as with the Election Commission. The mission consulted a broad range of national and
international actors in Nepal, including women’s, child protection and minority groups and other civil society representatives. UNFPA led the mission’s efforts to take fully into account the provisions of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), while UNICEF led efforts to ensure that the rights and needs of children were similarly included. Members of the mission visited proposed cantonment sites and army barracks as part of their determination of the logistical requirements for monitoring. The mission also developed plans for the rapid deployment of up to 35 monitors and 25 electoral personnel as approved by the Security Council (see S/PRST/2006/49).