Nepal's Faltering Peace Process

TitleNepal's Faltering Peace Process
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleInternational Crisis Group Asia Report
Year of Publication2009
Number of Pages45 pp.
PublisherInternational Crisis Group (ICG)
Accession Number1219

The following text has been taken from the Executive Summary:
Despite successful elections and a lasting military ceasefire, Nepal\'s peace process is facing its most severe tests yet. Major issues remain unresolved: there is no agreement on the future of the two armies, very little of the land seized during the conflict has been returned, and little progress has been made writing a new constitution. Challenges to the basic architecture of the 2006 peace deal are growing from all sides. Key political players, particularly the governing Maoists and the opposition Nepali Congress (NC), need to rebuild consensus on the way forward or face a public backlash. International supporters of Nepal must target assistance and political pressure to encourage the parties to face the threats to peace.
The essence of the peace process, from the November 2005 agreement between the CPN(M) and the mainstream seven-party alliance onwards, was a double transformation. The Maoists were to renounce violence and accept multiparty democracy and international human rights norms. The mainstream parties were to develop more inclusive and democratic internal structures and renounce the bad behaviour that had weakened the post-1990 exercise of democracy. The old politics was discredited and still faces the challenge of renewing itself - with the established parties needing to earn legitimacy.
The state of public security and law and order is worrying. Although the incidents that draw most attention - killings, explosions and shutdowns - have all decreased since peaks in the first half of 2008, there is little sense of stability. Districts across the Tarai, from the eastern and central heartland of the Madhesi movement to the far west, continue to be plagued by insecurity and, in many areas, a near collapse of governance and policing. While the police are demoralised, the Nepalese Army (NA) remains a law unto itself, resisting both democratic control and investigation of alleged war crimes during the conflict.
International actors, India, the UN and Nepal's longstanding donors, have played important roles in promoting peace and now need to maintain consistent pressure on all parties to live up to their commitments. Allowing parts of the peace agreements to drift into abeyance will put the entire process at risk. The common struggle against the monarchy was not the sole foundation for the original negotiations, nor were the initial talks based solely on parties' self-interest. The search for peace was a powerful, and popularly backed, rationale. All sides knew that the deal deferred some important, difficult topics but they were right in opting to tackle them within a peace process, however contentious, rather than allowing the pursuit of a perfect deal to threaten a return to war. Despite significant political differences, this spirit of consensus underpinned a remarkable peaceful transition. Nepal's political leaders must urgently rebuild this collaborative spirit and recommit themselves to seeing through the process.

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