Nepal’s peace process is stagnating, top UN envoy warns

23 July 2009
Maoist army personnel  in Nepal are in need of rehabilitation and integration

The peace process in Nepal has stagnated, the top United Nations envoy to the South Asian nation said today, as the Security Council extended the world body’s mission there for an additional six months.

The peace process in Nepal has stagnated, the top United Nations envoy to the South Asian nation said today, as the Security Council extended the world body’s mission there for an additional six months.

Today’s unanimous Council resolution extends the mandate of the mission, known as UNMIN, until 23 January 2010.

Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMIN, voiced hope that today’s resolution sends a signal to the Government and parties “to take the peace process forward.”

Established following the signing of the 2006 peace deal by the Government and the Maoists to end the country’s decade-long civil war, UNMIN has been assisting with key tasks, such as monitoring of the management of arms and armed personnel of the Maoists and the Nepal Army.

“The peace process has had significant successes since its inception,” Ms. Landgren told reporters in New York.

But she pointed to several issues that could derail the process, such as polarization among the parties and the controversy over the roles of the army and the president.

In his most recent report to the Council on Nepal’s request for UN assistance in support of the peace process, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that progress on the peace process has slowed since the onset of the crisis sparked by the resignation of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (“Prachanda”) in early May, which occurred one day after the Chief of Army Staff – who he had fired – was reinstated.

A senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML), Madhav Kumar Nepal, was elected Prime Minister on 23 May and subsequently formed a new coalition Government with the support of 21 other political parties but without the participation of the Maoists.

The resolution passed by the 15-member Council today called on “all parties to take full advantage of the expertise and readiness of UNMIN, within its mandate, to support the peace process.”

It urged all sides to “work together in a spirit of co-operation, consensus and compromise in order to continue the transition to a durable long-term solution.”

In a related development, the UN human rights chief today voiced her continued support for Nepal as it rebuilds after a decade-long civil war, with the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country also being extended until next year.

In her letter to the Nepalese Government confirming her acceptance of that agreement, High Commissioner Navi Pillay wrote that OHCHR “remains strongly committed to further strengthen the national human rights protection system, in particular the National Human Rights Commission, through continued cooperation and capacity building,” according to a press release issued in Kathmandu.

The Office’s mandate is now set to expire on 9 June 2010.

Last weekend, a new UN-backed project was launched to help heal the scars left by Nepal’s civil war, using transitional justice mechanisms to spur reconciliation.

The “Peace through Justice” initiative, financed through a $2 million grant from the UN Peace Fund for Nepal (UNPFN), seeks to aid in setting up effective transitional justice systems provided for in the 2006 peace agreement.

OHCHR said that “a systematic approach to dealing with the past can help societies heal and work their way back to normality. Establishing the facts of the conflict, acknowledging the losses suffered by the victims and providing a platform for justice helps end impunity and aids reconciliation.”

The project, which will run initially for 12 months, will support the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) to set up bodies, such as the Commission on Inquiry on Disappearances, and will focus on documenting human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed during the conflict, which claimed some 13,000 lives.

 

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