Tag Archives: unmin

Did UN official accused of bias by Israel protect Maoist violence in Nepal ? (Book Excerpt)

– by NepalForeignAffairs.com team

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Former senior UN bureaucrat Kul Chandra Gautam’s book is already creating a lot of ripples.

Ian Martin was the head of Amnesty International before serving as UN special envoy to East Timor and Nepal. He acted as the inaugural head of UN Mission In Nepal (UNMIN) from 2006 to 2009. UNMIN was established to assist Nepal’s peace process following the peace agreement between Nepal government and Maoist rebels in 2006. Martin is a Cambridge educated Briton, whose controversial role in Nepal led the Nepal government to reduce UNMIN’s mandate, before finally ending the mission in 2011, on a rather bitter note.

Martin has been heavily criticized by Israel for a report prepared by his team in 2009. He led a UN committee of four to investigate incidents during the Gaza War. Israel was joined by the US in calling the report as biased. Israel’s criticism stated, “in both spirit and language, the report is tendentious, patently biased, and ignores the facts presented to the committee.”

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Ian Martin was the head of United Nations Mission In Nepal (UNMIN) and led a committee to investigate incidents in the Israel-Gaza conflict. (Picture: ictj.org)

For the first time after the time of UNMIN, some of their activities and unreported incidents have been brought to light in a book by a former senior UN bureaucrat. Kul Chandra Gautam, who served as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, has been involved with Nepali civil society and in the peace process. His book, “Lost in Transition: Rebuilding Nepal from the Maoist mayhem and mega earthquake” is out tomorrow. It has already created a lot of ripples in Nepal, including very approving reviews for its counter-narrative to the dominant view in Nepal that eulogizes violence and undemocratic means to grab power by destabilizing the state.

What follows is an exclusive excerpt from the book, detailing some role of UNMIN and its high officials in Nepal that very few people other than Gautam have been privy to.


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Kul Chandra Gautam, a former senior UN official details some of the unknowns regarding UNMIN’s role in Nepal. His book is out tomorrow (Picture: ipsnews.net).

… People began to see that UNMIN was unable to restrain the massive pre-election threats and violence by the Maoists against candidates of other political parties. Following the elections, and the installation of the Maoist-led government, people saw many illegal and criminal activities taking place in Maoist cantonments or by Maoist combatants outside the cantonments. UNMIN’s seeming inability to control or even monitor such activities began to erode the public’s faith in UNMIN.

A video-taped speech by Maoist Chairman Prachanda at a party training event in the Shaktikhor cantonment just prior to the 2008 CA election revealed how the Maoists had hoodwinked the UN into accepting much larger number of combatants than was actually the case, and how the party intended to use its cadres, including its ex-combatants, to influence the election. UNMIN’s credibility nosedived, when instead of protesting the Maoists’ cynical remarks disparaging it, UNMIN sought to defend itself and the Maoists by saying that Prachanda’s remarks “needed to be understood in a certain context”.

Some dramatic cases of criminal activities in the Maoist cantonments; the free access and use of the cantonments by Maoist leaders for political training and indoctrination; and the seeming inability of UNMIN to do anything about such actions, led to serious disappointment with its performance, especially given the Nepali public’s very high expectation of UNMIN. Increasingly a growing number of leaders of the non-Maoist political parties, civil society and the media became critical of UNMIN’s performance, many attributing a certain pro-Maoist bias on the part of UNMIN.

Worried about their poor judgment, in early 2010, I wrote a long memo entitled “Quo Vadis UNMIN?” and shared it with Karin Landgren, Ian Martin and Tamrat Samuel. I cautioned them about giving undue benefit of doubt to the Maoists and unfair criticism and pressure on NC/UML to be more flexible and compromising. I have retained copies of my long private exchanges with them – mostly by emails – in my files.

In essence, the UNMIN leadership listened to my views politely, but generally chose to ignore them.

UNMIN became so influenced by the circle of self-proclaimed “progressives” that it ignored and dismissed the views and advice of many Nepalis who had a much deeper understanding of and respect for the United Nations, including those who had served in senior positions in the UN system …

In September 2010, UNMIN had prepared a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2010/453) on the status of Nepal’s peace process recommending further extension of UNMIN’s mandate. This report was so unbalanced and objectionable that four former Foreign Ministers of Nepal coming from different political parties – KP Sharma Oli, Chakra Bastola, Ram Sharan Mahat and Prakash Chandra Lohani – wrote a joint letter of protest to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

As former foreign ministers, and strong supporters of the United Nations, they registered their objection to the tone and content of the whole report and pointed out several specific paragraphs which were against the letter and spirit of Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Accord and related agreements. They objected to the report’s treatment of Nepal’s national army on par with the former rebel force, whose members were in temporary cantonments awaiting integration and rehabilitation. They also objected to the report essentially treating the Government of Nepal on par with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Indeed, neither the UN nor most Western diplomats insisted with the Maoists that if they wanted their cooperation, they had to unequivocally renounce violence, accept political pluralism (not just “multiparty competition”), and abandon their declared objective of “state capture” through either ballots or bullets.

Martin’s implied assertion that Nepalis … could not think for themselves, reminded me of the former Singapore Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani’s book entitled “Can Asians Think?” Yes, I argued, Nepalis can think for themselves.

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Karin Landgren replaced Martin as UNMIN head in Nepal. UNMIN has been controversial and accused of protecting Maoist violence in Nepal (Picture: frontpageafricaonline.com).
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UN Secretary General’s Observations on Nepal

Observations part of the UN Secretary-General’s Report presented at the Security Council

8 September

28. Nepal’s peace process remains stalled, with few signs of a consensual way forward. The major parties are preoccupied by profound internal fissures and the question of power-sharing. While the extension of the Constituent Assembly by one year averted a grave political vacuum, over three months have passed without notable headway in the peace process.

29. UNMIN has continued to pursue the request of the Security Council to work with the parties to make arrangements for its departure. Interlocutors from all major parties have underlined, however, that they see no alternative to UNMIN monitoring at present. To help speed the creation of conditions that would enable the Mission to conclude its tasks, UNMIN has consistently and assiduously urged the parties to agree on measures that could be taken in the short term, and has made proposals to that end, ranging from steps to improve monitoring arrangements to strengthening preparedness for integration and rehabilitation. A non-paper prepared by UNMIN to stimulate discussion was leaked to the press, and its purpose misconstrued, leading to strong criticism of UNMIN for having exceeded its mandate, including, regrettably, from the highest levels of government.

30. Despite the sustained efforts of the United Nations Mission in Nepal, little progress has been made towards the conditions for its departure, as the continuing political stalemate has precluded the necessary cooperation among the parties. Six extensions of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal have taken place on the unfulfilled expectation, and the commitment of the Government, that the remaining key tasks of the peace process would be brought to a close. Those commitments have become unrealistic in the absence of a consensual approach. Following the resignation of the Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, at the end of June, I encouraged the parties to intensify efforts towards the formation of a consensus government, and at the time of writing this remains my hope. Continue reading UN Secretary General’s Observations on Nepal

Ian Martin asks: Is Peace Process in Nepal Failing?

Ian MartinFIVE Fundamentals of Nepali Peace Process, according to Ian Martin:

The first fundamental is the commitment to power-sharing and consensus. The second fundamental is the commitment of the Maoists to the transformation of their movement, to conform to democratic multi-party norms and to respect the rule of law. The third, the commitment to transformation in the security sector: to the “integration and rehabilitation” of former Maoist combatants, and to an action plan for “democratisation” of the Nepali Army. The fourth, the commitment to political, economic and social transformation, where the Comprehensive Peace Agreement set out a radical and ambitious agenda. The fifth and last fundamental is the commitment to address the needs of victims of the conflict, and to build the rule of law by ending impunity.

By Ian Martin
[Martin is former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal for the United Nations Mission in Nepal]

In recent days there have been calls for the revision of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, accusations and counter-accusations that it is being broken by Maoist agitation or threats of mobilisation of the Army, and calling into question even of the 12-point Understanding which was the very foundation of the peace process. It is thus timely to ask whether the peace process is failing; if so, why; and what is required to save it.

I no longer speak for the UN on Nepal, and I want to make very clear that I am speaking only for myself. I do so solely as a friend of Nepal, and as someone who deeply wants to see Nepal go forward in peace, respect for human rights, and socio-economic progress for all its diverse peoples.

I want to try to address what I regard as the larger underlying issues of the peace process in Nepal, which I believe is the way to address the question of what needs to be done to get it back on track.

Five aspects of the peace agreements have been unchanging and are fundamental, and it is the extent to which they have been respected or not respected which I want to examine this evening. Continue reading Ian Martin asks: Is Peace Process in Nepal Failing?

UN Says Nepali Peace Process Has More Challenges Ahead

The Constituent Assembly has faced repeated delays in drafting the new constitution. The delays have led to growing public speculation and concern that the May 2010 promulgation deadline will not be met.

Report of the UN Secretary-General on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1879 (2009), by which the Council, following the request of the Government of Nepal and the recommendation of the Secretary-General, renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) until 23 January 2010. UNMIN was established as a special political mission in 2007, with a mandate which included monitoring of the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army. Following its merger with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unity Centre (Masal) on 13 January 2009, CPN-M was renamed the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). Continue reading UN Says Nepali Peace Process Has More Challenges Ahead

And the Last Press Briefing by Ian Martin

Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, addressed reporters at Reporters’ Club in Kathmandu today. Here is the Q and A, as provided by United Nations Mission in Nepal. Here is Ian’s last briefing to UNSC.

Rishi [Dhamala, the Chair of the Club], Thank you very much indeed for inviting me to come to the Reporters’ Club for one final time before I leave my present responsibilities. I want to thank you and the Reporters’ Club for the consistent interest that you have shown in the work of OHCHR and then in the work of UNMIN during my responsibilities for each of those. When I came to open the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in May 2005, defending freedom of expression, freedom of media was one of our priorities. And, as the terrible murder of Uma Singh reminds us, and many other threats to journalists, it’s still an extremely relevant agenda today, and OHCHR and many other colleagues in the United Nations will go on defending freedom of expression and freedom of media.

When people ask me if I am worried that Nepal may see a drift to some kind of authoritarianism, my answer is that the democratic spirit in Nepal is now too strongly alive for that to be a possibility even if some people wanted it. And, I have had the privilege to be in Nepal during Jana Andolan in 2006, and during the Constituent Assembly election, and I have no doubt that people of Nepal who had their say, who demanded peace and change on both those two occasions will insist that Nepal maintains a democratic country in which they have full freedom of expression. Continue reading And the Last Press Briefing by Ian Martin

Ian Martin of UNMIN Speaks to the Press

The UN Secretary-General will visit Nepal latter this month, is spokesperson said Thursday. While in Nepal, the Secretary-General will meet with the President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and members of the Constituent Assembly. The Secretary-General will also visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the spokesperson said.

Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, held a press conference at the Reporter’s Club, Kathmandu today. Here is the transcript as provided by the UNMIN. (Note: the questions in some cases are summarised)

Ram Kumar Kamat, The Himalayan Times: I read in today’s newspaper that Girija Prasad Koirala asked you that if Maoist army is integrated into Nepal Army, it will tarnish its image internationally. Apparently you agreed to this when he asked you. Do you want to say anything on that?

Ian Martin: First, let me say that neither I nor UNMIN have ever been an advocate for or against integration. We have never taken a position on this issue. We have always made clear that like other aspects of the peace process, this is for Nepalis to decide and the political actors reached agreements as to the process by which they would decide it. And that’s the special committee that I have referred to and that’s the place where the discussion about integration and re-integration has to take place. And if the United Nations is asked to make international experience available to the special committee then we will be happy to do so, but not with any United Nations proposal or any United Nations model to offer from elsewhere. Continue reading Ian Martin of UNMIN Speaks to the Press

Ian Martin: Too Many Challenges Ahead for Nepal

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal at a press conference at the Reporter’s Club, Kathmandu today. The following is the transcript provided by his office:

Introduction (in Nepali) by Rishi Dhamala, President of the Reporters’ Club.

Ian Martin: Thank you, Rishi. I could not understand your introduction, but you are usually over generous. And thank you for persisting in asking me to come again to the Reporters’ Club. I am sorry I wasn’t able to do so before I went to New York, but this is my first opportunity after returning from New York.

I briefed the Security Council in New York last Thursday. You will, I hope, have seen the report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council in which we described the holding and the outcome of the Constituent Assembly election. But my emphasis when I briefed the Council last week was not so much on the achievement of the Constituent Assembly election, which the Security Council warmly welcomed, but on the very considerable challenges that still lie ahead for Nepal. Of course, those challenges include the negotiations that are going on right now to try to find a basis for forming a new government. But there are much more profound challenges ahead for the newly elected Constituent Assembly when it begins meeting tomorrow. Continue reading Ian Martin: Too Many Challenges Ahead for Nepal

Status of the United Nations Mission in Nepal

Report of the Secretary-General on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process Continued from previous blog (Part II of II)

III. Status of the United Nations Mission in Nepal

17. As at 24 April 2008, a total of 968 of the authorized 1,048 personnel had been recruited to the Mission. Of 795 civilian personnel on board, 233 or 29.30 per cent are female. Among substantive staff, 32 per cent are female, while among administrative staff, 16 per cent are female. There are 13 female arms monitors, a number subject to the nomination of candidates by Member States. Female national staff account for 27.79 per cent of the total number of staff. The efforts of UNMIN to recruit national staff from traditionally marginalized communities have yielded positive results: 46 per cent of staff (169 out of 367) are from traditionally marginalized groups. Continue reading Status of the United Nations Mission in Nepal

UN Report on Progress of Nepal Peace Process

Report of the Secretary-General on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process Part I of II [Here is the II part.]

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1796 (2008), by which the Council, following the request of the Government of Nepal and on the basis of the recommendation of the Secretary-General, renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), as set out in resolution 1740 (2007), until 23 July 2008. UNMIN was established as a special political mission with a mandate to monitor the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)) and the Nepal Army, assist in monitoring ceasefire arrangements, provide technical support for the conduct of the election of a Constituent Assembly in a free and fair atmosphere and provide a small team of electoral monitors. Continue reading UN Report on Progress of Nepal Peace Process

UNMIN, Preparing to Say Bye Bye Nepal, Establishes End-of-Mission Task Force

With 74 days remaining for its mandate to expire the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) has started preparations to move out of Nepal. UNMIN chief Ian Martin wrote a letter on Thursday 8th May to his staffs at the agency telling them that “It is now necessary to plan towards the end of the mission, and I have established an End-of-Mission Task Force to undertake this planning.” This comes at a time when the Maoist party, almost certain to lead the next government has repeatedly said that UNMIN is not needed after this term is over. Indian are also expressing against the presence of UNMIN. At the end of the memo, Martin adds: “Once the Constituent Assembly has been convened and a new government is in office, I will discuss with the government and report to the Secretary-General regarding any request it may make for UN support that cannot be provided by the UN Country Team.” Below is the full text of the letter provided to UWB by a senior UMNIN staff: Continue reading UNMIN, Preparing to Say Bye Bye Nepal, Establishes End-of-Mission Task Force