Nepal: UN official underscores central role of human rights in peace process

Nepal: UN official underscores central role of human rights in peace process

Starting an official visit to Nepal today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said she would press for rights protections, an end to impunity, and attention to long-standing discrimination during her meetings with leaders of the Himalayan country, which is carrying out a landmark peace deal.

“The purpose of my visit is to show my direct support for human rights and the peace process in Nepal, both to the Government and the people of Nepal,” High Commissioner Louise Arbour said upon arriving in Kathmandu for a five-day visit.

During her visit, Ms. Arbour will meet with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, as well as the Maoist Chairman and leaders of other political parties. She will also speak with victims and groups representing the victims of human right violations.

Ms. Arbour will travel outside Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and Bardiya in the Mid-western Region and to Sindapulchowk in the Central Region.

She pledged to focus on “ending impunity for serious human rights violations, including the need to resolve all outstanding cases of disappearances; the need for a well-functioning law enforcement and criminal justice system as an essential means of strengthening human rights protection; and the need to address long-standing discrimination and social exclusion.”

The Government and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a peace deal on 21 November 2006 that seeks to bring an end to a decade of civil war that killed approximately 15,000 people and displaced over 100,000 others.

“The conflict has ended, but Nepal faces important human rights challenges in this period of transition,” Ms. Arbour affirmed. “My visit to Nepal is part of the commitment of my Office to fulfil its responsibility to work with the Government and people of Nepal to help meet those challenges.

Both sides have asked for UN assistance in supporting the peace accord. To date, 35 Security Council-approved UN monitors have overseeing the disarmament of former combatants in the Himalayan country. The UN has also been asked to help with polls scheduled for this year.

The Nepalese field office of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), in five locations throughout the country, is the agency’s largest field operation.