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FES Nepal in the Press - 2005

Need emphasised to find exportable areas <Top>

By Our Correspondent
LALITPUR, Dec 24: Participants at a workshop Saturday stressed on the need for identifying competitive exportable areas to reap benefit from the flexibility provided by the recently concluded 6th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organasation (WTO).

They said at a workshop on ‘WTO and Question of Livelihood’ that Nepal had limited goods that could be exported to the world market. “So, we have been unable to cash in on the opportunities offered by global trade regime.”

The developed countries have made commitment of duty and quota free access to the goods of least developed countries (LDCs) in the Hong Kong meet of WTO held last week.

Joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) Prachanda Man Shrestha said that Nepal needed to enhance national capability to avoid supply constraints.

He said that the commitment of aid for trade facility to the LDCs could be channelised not only to the government agencies but also to the private sector for their capacity enhancement.

He said that the Hong Kong meet had given consent to LDCs to provide subsidies at certain level. “It has given us space to bargain with the international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on providing subsidies to the farmers.

Presenting a working paper on the agreement on health safety and quality and its impact on livelihood, Dr. Hemanta Dawadi, a WTO expert, said that developed countries were preventing goods of LDCs including Nepal from entering their market because of inability of the latter to convince them in matter of production process quality control.

Nepal needs technical assistance from the developed countries to set up laboratories and develop human resources.

Dev Raj Dahal, chief of the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, said that the state must be strong to attain benefit from trade liberalization.

He said that Nepal could face livelihood crisis as Nepal’s agriculture policy was revenue oriented rather than production oriented.

The workshop recommended proper market access to agriculture goods, subsidy for commercial farming, system of providing quality certification within Nepal, responsible institutions in this area, and awareness campaign at the grassroots.

It also recommended for national accreditation institution for quality control and preventing technical barrier to trade. Human resource development, exploration of technical assistance for capacity building and awareness to farmers are other measures essential to overcome technical barriers to export of Nepali goods.

Similarly, the workshop focused on documentation and registration of biodiversity, harmonization of laws with the WTO rules, and capacity enhancement to face the Dispute Settlement Body in the area of intellectual property rights.

The programme was organized jointly by FES, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) and the Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON).

Source: The Rising Nepal (25 December 2005)

Conflict Costs <Top>

Violence and conflict have, in the last one-decade, badly affected all sectors in Nepal. The national economy has been worst hit. Development activities have come to a virtual standstill. Terrorists have destroyed development infrastructure and public property worth billions of rupees. The tourism industry, which is the backbone of the national economy, has suffered very badly that has sent negative ripples to all sectors of the economy. The recent street protests staged by some political parties have once again sent a negative message in the international arena. This is, indeed, a matter of serious concern for all. Moreover, the ongoing conflict has caused mental trauma to many Nepalese as they are forced to leave places and live somewhere, especially in the towns as internal refugees. One cannot easily imagine what sort of trauma these internally displaced people suffer while being isolated from families and relatives, unless one actually encounters such a situation. As such, conflict experts, while participating in a two-day national seminar on Cost of Armed Conflict in Nepal the other day, discussed about the impact of the conflict on the society, economy and individuals and the sufferings of the people. In fact, the killing of a family member, warnings from the terrorists to leave the house, demand for donations, fear of abduction and pressure to join the rebels are major causes of displacement and mental trauma to the victims. They also suggested possible solutions to the ongoing-armed conflict in the Kingdom, previously famed for peace and harmony. According to an expert, talks between the Monarch, political parties and the Maoists was the only means for the effective and fruitful resolution of the problem. Indeed, it is not only the demand of the conflict experts but also of all the people. However, going by the developments, there is little chance for an effective dialogue to end the conflict. Yes, there might be political and ideological differences among the parties and individuals, which is natural in a democratic system. But such differences must be resolved peacefully, politically and amicably. Violence begets violence, which can never serve the interest of the nation and the people. Global experiences have shown that violence has never been successful in bringing about positive changes anywhere in the world. Thus, only peaceful politics and dialogue can lead the country out of the crisis and guarantee peace, stability and prosperity. Terrorism being perpetrated by the Maoists has been the major cause of crisis in Nepal at present. The ongoing protest programmes launched by some political parties have only added chaos to the situation. Thus, it is time for all sensible and work for the restoration of peace and end the violence once and for all.

Source: The Rising Nepal (1 October 2005)

Cost of conflict huge, say experts <Top>

By Ramesh Lamsal

KATHMANDU, Sept. 29: Sociologists, economists and conflict experts Thursday said that the decade-long armed conflict had incurred huge social and economic costs and urged all the stakeholders to work towards building peace.

Speaking at a two-day national seminar on Cost of Armed Conflict in Nepal here today, they called for flexibility on part of the key political actors to transform the current standoff and usher in durable peace in the country.

"Indiscriminate murder of numerous people and displacement of thousands, psychological trauma, and dispossession are the most noticeable social costs of conflict," sociologist Khagendra Prasai said in his paper on Social Cost of Armed Conflict in Nepal. He also said that the protracted conflict had also intensified alienation among the citizens, widened the gap between the rural and urban areas and fueled communalism in the name of ethnic autonomy.

Prasai noted that talks between the Monarch, political parties and the Maoists was the only means for the effective and fruitful resolution of the problem. "This is unlikely until the parties revive themselves through the reconstitution of ideology, organization and leadership and win the trust of the people so that they can press the conflicting parties to come forward for talks."

In his paper on Nepal's Conflict Displacement, Causes and Consequences, another sociologist Bihari Krishna Shrestha stated that there was uncertainty about the number and status of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in absence of reliable data. He said the number of IDPs should be somewhere between 200-300 thousand. "Murder in the family, warnings from the rebels to leave the house, demand for donations, fear of abduction, and pressure to join the rebel outfit are the major reasons behind the displacement of the people."

He said the displacement resulted in psychological trauma, crisis of subsistence, lack of employment, disruption in children's education, adverse effect on health and increased and undue workload on the old family members left behind.

Citing calls from United Nations, he demanded for a comprehensive IDP policy according to Nepal's international human rights obligations to respond to the humanitarian needs of the IDPs.

Commenting on Shrestha's paper, anthropologist Saubhagya Shah said that it was of critical importance to understand Nepal's conflict better as, unlike other studies conducted so far, it dwelt on the plight of the IDPs. "The absence of data on the number and status of the IDPs indicates that neither the domestic nor the international institutions are really serious to address their problems."

Another paper on An Assessment of Economic Cost of the Ongoing Armed Conflict in Nepal Prepared by Nepal Rastra Bank executive director Keshav P. Acharya stated that the conflict had impeded growth and adversely affected the economy as a whole. It is said that the economy was losing on an average 2.2 percent of gross domestic product each year after 2001, with an estimated total loss of Rs. 92.8 billion between 1991-2005.

Commenting on Acharya's paper, Professor Bishwambher Pyakuryal argued that the prolonged conflict had devastated the national economy and warned of a total collapse in case it persisted.

In his welcome address, Ananda P. Shrestha, executive director of Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS), said that the crisis could reach a logical end only through national unity, political will, resolve and reconciliation.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of German non-profit organization Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal (FES), said that the seminar had been organized with a view to sensitize the conflict actors and orient them towards peace.

Organized by NEFAS with the cooperation of FES Nepal, the seminar is third in a series of seminars in the area of conflict. The seminars NEFAS held earlier on the theme of conflict were Conflict Resolution and Governance in Nepal and Critical Barriers to the Negotiation of Armed Conflict in Nepal.

Source: The Rising Nepal (30 September 2005)

Meet on Peace education in Godavari <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

Godavari, Lalitpur, Aug 20: A five-day-Train-the-Trainer Workshop on Peace Education kicked off at the Godavari Village Resort Saturday.

Organised and sponsored by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), the workshop is participated in by 20 reporters and trainee journalists representing various publications and media training organisations.

The training is fourth of its kind held by FES. The first was held in 2003 and the second the following year. One was held in January this year.

"These trainings have been organised with a view to educate the journalists on the basics of peace process and then involve them in mitigating the ongoing conflict in the country," said Dev Raj Dahal, chief of FES Nepal Office.

The trainings are conducted by Nepalese and German media and conflict resolution experts. The foreign experts bring in their knowledge on the theories and models of conflict transformation used internationally whereas the Nepali experts orient more towards the situation at home.

The resource person for this round of training include Joergen Klussmann, a German peace education expert, FES head Dahal and noted Nepali media person like P. Kharel, Ram Krishna Regmi and Yuba Raj Ghimire.

The trainings have been designed in a way to equip the participants with the new tools like systemic constellations to deal with the problem of conflict in Nepal. Originally developed to address the family conflict, systemic constellation is now being applied to mitigate social and political conflict.

"Such trainings help us understand conflict and prepare us to contribute to the larger goal of building peace in the country," said Ranju KC, a participant from the Central Department of journalism and Mass Communication at Ratna Rajyalaxmi College.

Source: The Rising Nepal (21 August 2005)

Diplomats stress need to infuse new life into SAARC <Top>

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, July 15:

As the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) completes two decades, the issue of of injecting new life into the institution is being raised to achieve the goals set by its founders. “Within SAARC, there has been little progress even in intra-regional trade, which is barely five per cent as compared to EU’s 62 per cent,” said KV Rajan, former diplomat who has served as Indian envoy to Nepal. He said so while presenting a paper in a regional conference on ‘New Life Within SAARC’ organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Saying there have been occasional summits that have resulted in high sounding commitments and declared successful, he said, “If no explanation is demanded of governments as to why these commitments were not fulfilled, it is probably because they “To inject new life into SAARC, it would be good to remind ourselves of the GEP (Eminent Persons Group set up by the Male Summit of 1997) recommendations submitted to the tenth Summit in Colombo.”

Foreign Secretary Madhu Raman Acharya stressed on making SAARC’s third decade the

“decade of implementation”. He added, “South Asia is the fastest growing region, and SAARC has made great strides. But it is yet to attract those outside the region. And for that, its renewal is necessary.” Acha-rya also pointed out “Nepal has taken the initiative to introduce transit economy by offering her land to be used as the transit route for Sino-Indian trade.”

Presenting a paper on terrorism in South Asia, Dr Mohan Lohani said South Asia was facing the problem of terrorism on a much larger scale with ominous implications for regional peace and stability.

“The Convention (SAARC Convention on Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism signed

in Kathmandu in 1987) can become an effective mechanism to combat terrorism, provided there is a strong political will to implement it,” he said. Highlighting the importance of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) treaty as a “quantum leap” in the SAARC process, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, CM Shafi Sami, said, “It is crucially important to recognise that in order to achieve SAFTA’s desired impact, efforts need to be redoubled to ensure the inadequacies in SAFTA are addressed.”

Source: The Himalayan Times (16 July 2005)

Change of mindset to help develop SAARC region <Top>

By our Correspondent

The regional diplomats, scholars and economists Friday said that the mindset of the politicians and bureaucrats should change if the SAARC region is to develop.

Speakers at a two-day regional conference on "New Life within SAARC" that started Friday, expressed diverse views, some of them even as skeptical as SAARC was neither established with a sincere, collective and grand vision nor a strong political will, but to subsume short-term nationalist objectives. They also said that the fact remains that South Asian Regional Cooperation was not even in the priority agenda of most nations.

However, majority of them said that SAARC could be developed as an apparatus to collectively fight the common ills of the region such as poverty, terrorism, underdevelopment, social exclusions and others.

The conference was meant to analyze the progress of SAARC into themes such as - economic cooperation, social charter, combating terrorism and restructuring of the secretariat.

Speaking at the conference Foreign Secretary Madhu Raman Acharya said that South Asia today have new challenges such as terrorism, Tsunami, HIV/AIDS and many other things. He said despite the challenges and skepticism whatever the region has achieved was significant.

But he said that the volume of document had rapidly increased and there has been little implementation.

Acharya said that transit economy was a new idea put forth by Nepal and the input from the participants would be useful to the region as a whole.

Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Nepal) Dev Raj Dahal said that an independent commission should be established in South Asia to monitor poverty alleviation, corruption and other social issues. He said that wider thinking of the political leaders would give a new lease of life to the SAARC.

Presenting a paper on "Renewing SAARC" former Indian Ambassador to Nepal K. V. Rajan said that the emphasis for the first several years was on cooperation of technical nature and that had hardly inspired the political and civil society. The emphasis on a social agenda, poverty alleviation, free trade area etc. came much later; by then SAARC had acquired a reputation of being a non-performing entity.

He said many of the commitments made in the summits were not fulfilled because the governments lacked credibility in the first place.

In his paper on SAFTA; significance and Challenges, ambassador and former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh C. Safi Sami said that the SAFTA was in the interest of region. With the elimination of tariffs on all products under the SAFTA, the likely increase in intra-regional trade of SAARC would be substantial, he said.

Presenting the paper on 'Terrorism in South Asia and its Implications for Regional Peace and Security', Prof. Dr. Mohan Prasad Lohani said SAARC had moved into a new phase of cooperation, from symbolic to substantive, as it has achieved significant progress in identifying core areas of cooperation and laying the groundwork in important areas such as trade, investment and poverty alleviation. However, there has not been smooth sailing for the regional body.

Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani said in his paper that all the nations want to be seen as promoting a new era of regional cooperation in improving the social and economic condition of the people in the region, but the values implicit in this commitment has not been seriously examined with the result that regional cooperation is surviving more as a concept than an operational plan of action.

Nischal Nath Pandey, executive director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, said that one of the biggest hindrances for regional cooperation and economic integration let alone the development of transportation grid has been fact that all the SAARC countries have one or the conflict inside the territory.

He said that these conflicts could be more readily addressed within a framework of open regionalism where borders and nationality do not become constraints to intercourse of people and commerce.

Others, who also presented papers, were Major General (retd.) Dipankar Banerjee of India, Shamsul Islam of Bangladesh, Ramzan Ali and Brigadier General (retd.) Arun Sahgal on topics like Meeting the Challenges of a New Era; Energy Resources and Regional Economic Cooperation in SAARC countries; and Dealing with the Problems of Terrorism in South Asia.

The programme was organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) in collaboration with Freidrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

Source: The Rising Nepal (16 July 2005)

Nepal is taking a vanguard’s role in global women rights <Top>

-Cedric Rehman ( intern at FES Nepal)

The first widow’s rights charter was drafted at an international conference organized in Katmandu from May 12 to May 14. It will find its way from Nepal to the SAARC legislation and from SAARC to the UN and end the complete ignorance of the problematic situation of single women throughout the world in all the consisting women right’s charters

The conference, organized by the Nepalese Single Women Group: “Women for Human Rights”, under the participation of international organizations such as “Widows for Peace through Democracy”(UK) and BRAC (Bangladesh) and the support of international donors like FES, USAID and SNV, touched a topic of international relevance that can not be underestimated.

Not only Nepal but various countries throughout the world suffer from political unrest. Political disturbances do not only effect men, who are mainly involved in them. On the contrary effects on their dependent families, their wives and children are tremendous. If a soldier falls at the front he leaves a large number of dependents behind. The widowed wife has to take his role as the feeder of the family. Certain social and cultural practices which lead to a discrimination of single women, constrain their efforts to bring up their families. Even in peace times whole parts of the population who are dependent on female-headed households poses reduced possibilities to take part in social development due to certain social practices that discriminate against single women. This discrimination produces without doubt a backlash for the whole development process of the effected society.

Wartimes again turn things worse, due to the increase of households who have lost their male head and depend as a consequence on single women.

A recent and striking example for the change in family structures due to war is the conflict in Iraq, which following to UN sources has produced a approximate toll of 100 000 casualties since 2003. The mainly male victims of the conflict left a large number of widows and orphans behind. Due to the fact that Iraq was being involved in a plenty of wars in the last two decades, in Iraq an estimated toll of 65% of the female population are widowed and 70% of the infant population are depending on them. One can imagine the fatal impact that discrimination of single women has on a society which largely consists and depends on them and their dependents in regards to social development.

Like Iraq a recognizable number of countries see in their society an increase of single women headed households due to war or natural disaster. They all suffer the fatal consequences that a social context of discrimination against single women produces not only on this growing part of the population but also on the society as a whole. Such societies can hardly achieve development by excluding the increasing number of single women and their dependents from social equality.

The widow’s rights charter therefore undoes the striking evidence that single women rights have never been specifically mentioned in any international agreement concerning women’s rights, although the importance of legal measures against the discrimination of single woman can not be denied.

Nepal is now the first country that recognizes the international widow’s rights charter.

The widow’s charter consists of ten articles, each of them dealing with a distinct aspect of widow’s discrimination. They claim equality of widows and widowers, they right of widows to inherit, the prohibition of harmful traditional practices concerning widows, restrictions of any kind regarding the widow’s mobility, discriminations in the employment field and violence against widows in general. The charter also claims measures in favor of dependent children of widows and measures to protect widow’s rights in times of conflict and post-conflict, when they are especially endangered. Further the charter claims the government’s support for the establishment of national widow’s networks and the addressing of widow’s concerns in their work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and further international agreements concerning human rights and women’s rights.

Nepal’s civil society represented by “Women for Human Rights” and representatives of the Nepali Government are entering with the draft a path to improve conditions of a social development within the country and are setting at the same time a remarkable sign for human progress on a global scale.

Source: The telegraph Weekly (18 May 2005)

Conflict-hit journos to form network <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, May 13: A national seminar on conflict-victim journalist Friday decided to form a coordination committee within a week to create a solidarity network of such journalists with the representatives from media, human rights and civil society organizations. The objective of the network is to support the families of the journalists who lost lives and those who are displaced, lost jobs or were harassed while reporting in conflict-hit areas. "This solidarity will minimize the risk and maximize space and strength of journalists to continue with their professional pursuit."

Experts and participants highlighted the role of journalists to resolve conflicts by disseminating accurate information to the public about the conflict situation in the country.

They sought the assistance from donors, civil society and media organizations to help and build confidence of those journalists facing threat in the course of reporting in the conflict-affected places.

Two-dozen Nepali journalists were killed over the last six years while other dozens of them faced threats, intimidation and physical harassment, and were even forced to be displaced from their workstation due to the conflict.

The seminar entitled 'Building Solidarity Network of Conflict Victim Journalists' was organized by International Press Institute, Nepal National Committee in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) here Friday.

Senior journalist and chairman of Nepal Press Institute (NPI) Gokul Pokharel said that conflict had crippled the morale of Nepalese journalists. "Now the media industry is turning into a sick industry because of conflicts and other difficult situation facing the nation."

Pokharel called for appropriate policy and lobbying to address the problem. Dev Raj Dahal, chief of FES Nepal office said that networking and solidarity building are essential tools to form 'group mind', influence particular course of action and organize the voice and visibility of victims. "The power of the powerless springs from their solidarity."

He said that communication was like a nerve system of the state and civil society. "When it is destroyed, the very foundation of the society collapses."

Dahal said that in a country where research tradition is very weak and the think tank rarely exists, journalists have the primary responsibility to educate the public and politicians about the condition of public life and offer perspectives to solve the problem.

Media expert Ram Krishna Regmi said that when the journalists were kicked out from conflict-hit areas, there would be a communication vacuum.

Nepali media are covering the conflict issues amidst fears and confusion, said Regmi. Pointing out the miserable condition of the conflict victim journalists, Regmi called for giving voice to the voiceless. He also presented a model of programmes aimed at rehabilitating and helping the conflict-victim journalists.

Pushkar Lal Shrestha, chairman of IPI Nepal National Committee urged the big media houses to assist their journalists who have suffered from conflict.

"It is first up to the publication houses that have prime responsibility to protect their reporters from threats posed by the conflicts," Shrestha added.

He also asked the publication houses to allocate a separate fund for the cause of the victim journalists.

Shreeran Singh Basnet and Arjun Bista from IPI had highlighted the objectives of the programme which was attended by over 30 participants, 20 of them were conflict victim journalists.

Source: The Rising Nepal (14 May 2005)

Media's Role <Top>

It has been clear by now that the country today is confronted with the twin problems of terrorism and corruption. And the media plays a crucial role in the fight against these anomalies, which are the outcome of bad governance bereft of any accountability of the past governments. However, the media have not been playing as effective a role as they should in this direction. Worse still, after the Royal move of February 1, some sections of the media seemed to have been carried away by external factors and failed to present the truth. Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey and other speakers while participating in a seminar 'Conflict Vs. Peace' organized by the Association of Writers & Kathmandu Editors (AWAKE) with the cooperation FES, Kathmandu, pointed out this bitter fact recently. They also urged the international community to understand Nepal's priority. In fact, media can influence policies in the areas of conflict and help garner international disseminate truth while discouraging the elements that want to disturb peace and harmony in the Kingdom. But contrary to this popular expectation, the media, both local and international did otherwise and His Majesty the King had to utilize the Jakarta Summit to clarify Nepal's problem and reasons behind the Royal move of February 1. The foreign media hyped up the issue of democracy to malign the well-intentioned move.

His Majesty the King's attendance in the summits in Jakarta and Boao and His Majesty's addresses at the two important forums helped remove all the wrong notions the international community had about Nepal's present state of affairs. It was a diplomatic triumph in that the Royal move was appreciated by foreign friends because it was aimed at fighting the menace of terrorism which was not only a problem of Nepal but the world itself. Terrorism that has held the country in its claws could have been uprooted had the past governments and the other political parties come up with a common agreed strategy to tackle it. But that did not happen. As pointed out in the seminar, the media could have been more constructive. It is the media that can bring to light various approaches to solving conflicts and articulate the need for conflict transformation. Indeed, it must be remembered by all that the fight against terrorism won't come to an end until it is eliminated with the help of all, including the media. The goal of a responsible media should be to ensure its work promotes unity, peace and progress.

Source: The Rising Nepal (14 May 2005)

‘Safety of journalists prime concern’<Top>


KATHMANDU, May 13 - Senior journalists, on Friday, said that the entire media sector, including journalists, were demoralized due to the government's 'illiberal policy' toward them.
Speaking at a national seminar on building a solidarity network of conflict-affected journalists, organized jointly by International Press Institute (IPI) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), they said that publishers and working journalists should forge solidarity to put pressure upon the government for the sake of the media and journalists.

Gokul Prasad Pokhrel, chairman of IPI, said, "Despite the government decision to lift the state of emergency, journalists are still in a critical situation as all restrictions on the media continue." He also said that the safety and security of journalists has presently become of prime concern, as they have become the victims of the parties to the conflict.

Dev Raj Dahal, chief of FES, Nepal, and Ram Krishna Regmi, a media expert, said that due to the conflict, victim journalists' problems are no longer individual problems.

Collective effort, therefore, is necessary to safeguard democracy and press freedom and support them.

According to a paper presented by Bhagirath Yogi, general secretary of IPI, security forces and government authorities have interrogated a total of 28 journalists over the last one year.

"Four journalists have received death threats and at least 51 were arrested and subjected to harassment while in detention," it said.

It further said that five journalists were still in custody and the whereabouts of two media personnel still remain unknown.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (14 May 2005)

Single women worry about their kids’ future <Top>


KATHMANDU, May 12 - Single women, on Thursday, warned the government that their children would be forced to resort to criminal activities if it failed to address their issues in the present conflict situation.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day, First International Conference of Single Women held in the capital, Margaret Owen, director of Empowering Widows in Development, an international organization working for widows, said, "Despite a widow's responsibility towards her children, they can't ensure their children's right to education due to their low economic status. Thus, there is high risk of children being lured to criminal activities."

She also said that many women, whose husbands have disappeared and been displaced, are not even sure whether they are widows.

She further said that it would be impossible for developing countries like Nepal to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if the government doesn't address the issues related to single women. Many youth (considered the future of the country) are dependent on widows.

"The trend of ostracizing single women should end," Lily Thapa, president of Women For Human Rights - Single Women Group said, adding, "the government, national and international communities have to show their concern over the issues of single women, to end the practice of stigmatizing widows as a bad omen."

The conference aims to build a common widow's charter under international laws and ensure the enactment of the resolutions locally, to protect legal and customary rights of single women, Thapa informed.

Participants from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Holland, India, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, the UK and the USA, as well as 34 single women from throughout the country are participating in the conference.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (13 May 2005)

Conflict and Peace <Top>

An Association of Writers and Kathmandu Editors (AWAKE)/ Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Seminar on ‘Conflict and Peace’ was occasion once again for professional media participants to mull over the impact of a partisan media on the current state of democracy in the country. As the just concluded elections of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists demonstrated, there is a growing awareness in the media sector that a partisan media has contributed to the mess in the country and that a professional media strengthens democracy. Unfortunately, while this healthy growth in awareness permeates the media culture—a relatively new phenomenon—today, the continued presence in the media of partisan coverage perhaps demonstrates the resilient presence of political cadre that cannot be wished away unless there is an organized professional response to such. Such a professional response will only come about when the utility of professionalism dawns upon both media persons and the political sector itself and becomes manifest in a set of conducts insured by adequate rules and regulations. As it is, the United Nations this year was rather explicit in declaring this International Press Day for good governance and it is high time that this country particularly, plagued as it is with intense conflict, admit that among the contributors to malgovernance is a thoroughly under-regulated media where the political sector responsible for the conflict today predominates.

If, on the one hand, conflict studies on Nepal rightly draw a relation between the paucity of media presence in the epicenter-areas of the conflict in Nepal, such studies have yet to admit that proper coverage on the growing turmoil in the epicenters now accounted to malgovernance was very much a possibility at the very centre of government where media presence remains high. Had our media made aware of and warned against the excesses of state and its impact on society a wary political sector could have been compelled to avoid the disaster we are facing today. Unfortunately, the continuance of this very indulgence contributes to the reluctance of the political organizations to recognize the popularity and the utility of the King’s corrective moves and it reflects also on the delayed international realization that conflict had disrupted Nepali democracy and the organized political sector must be squeezed to discard blatant partisanship in lieu of a united national approach towards solving the problem.

It is the emphasis perhaps on national unity that is gradually nudging a welcome consciousness amidst the professional intelligentsia on national security. A sound national security policy contributes to peace. Faulty policies sabotage national security and contribute to conflict. National determination to pursue a sound and sustainable national security policy is intricately involved with good governance. The effects of such determination are only now being witnessed externally. Regardless of the unfortunate initial reaction to the February 1 move, the international community has begun a gradual turnaround. It is time now perhaps for those who see a constituency in the international community for political presence at home to respect their real constituency, the people at home, who desperately seek a national solution to the conflict and thirst for peace. After all, it is these politicians for whom the state must insure security enough to present themselves as democratic alternatives amidst a population they have neglected and, indeed, persecuted to the extent of arousing conflict. As it is, the king has made sure that elections are inevitable. This is regardless of those that would rather avoid it on grounds of the same partisanship that contributed to the conflict in the very first place.

Source: People's Review (12-18 May 2005)

AWAKE seminar on conflict and peace <Top>


AWAKE (Association of Writers and Kathmandu Editors), an organization of professional journalists of the mainstream media, in cooperation with FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) organised a seminar Monday on 'Conflict and Peace' on Monday.

Speaking at the seminar Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramesh Nath Pandey said that the Royal proclamation of February 1 had represented the people's sentiments and the country had regained lost confidence to fight against terrorism and corruption. After the King's statements in Jakarta and Boao, the international community has realized Nepal's internal and the most pressing problems and they are gradually recognizing the King's move of February 1.

From the Chair, Lok Deep Thapa, president of AWAKE also said that the King's messages at the Jakarta and Boao were instrumental in garnering international support towards Nepal's problems. He said that the media also cannot close their eyes towards the ground realities of the country because journalists too are Nepalese first and journalists later. If the media remains truthful to their cause of the country and the people they could help a lot in ushering in peace in the country.

Dev Raj Dahal, Executive Director of FES, giving an elaborate reason of conflict and its effect, said that conflict in Nepal have punished human civility and make the weaker section of the society suffer the most.

He said media can influence policies related to conflict and help in their resolution. The communication tool and skill can also mediate various approaches in transforming the conflict, Dahal added. First Secretary at the German Embassy Klaus Tesch wished that the seminar would be able to give a concrete direction to resolving conflict and finding peace.

At the seminar, Prof. Dr. Parashar Koirala presented paper on 'role of administrative services in restoring peace' and senior journalist and political analyst Srish Shumsher Rana presented paper on 'role of constitutional forces and the media'. The papers were commented by journalists Babita Basnet and Prakash Adhikary respectively.

(We will be publishing the full text of the papers presented at the seminar in coming issues.)

Awake was established in 1998 and it has been working in advocating infusing professionalism in the media and against corruption. It had also published poster and pamphlet in the last general election asking voters not to elect candidates with tainted and dubious performances and corrupt activities and sent them to all the constituencies.

Source: People's Review (12-18 May 2005)

People have regained lost confidence to fight against terrorism: Pandey <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, May 9: International Community's understanding towards Nepal's problem has been increasing after His Majesty's address at Jakarta Summit and Boao Forum recently, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramesh Nath Pandey Monday.

"The February 1 move has represented the people's sentiment and the people have regained the lost confidence to fight against threat and terrorism after the Royal move," he said.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a seminar 'Conflict and Peace,' he said that opting for local body election denotes the regained confidence and it is also a proof that the nation is becoming victorious against conflict.

The international community has understood the internal problem of Nepal and they have been expressing their support gradually, he added.

"The conflict should be resolved in a constructive way and through mutual understanding and all should unite in the matter of national interest," he said.

The bond and trust between the King and people and the belief that peace could be restored under the guidance of His Majesty the King is key to restore peace in the nation, he said. He also urged the writers to create a mass, which is inspired by national interest.

Lok Deep Thapa, president of Association of Writers & Kathmandu Editors (Awake) and Editor-in Chief of the Rising Nepal said that the King reiterated the priority of establishing peace in the nation in Jakarta Summit and Boao forum which were instrumental to gather international support towards Nepal's problem.

The media should not be carried away by external factors and they should present the truth keeping in mind that we are Nepalese first. "Following the international practices, if we are united in national issues, we can contribute a lot in resolving the crisis," Thapa said He also urged the international community to understand the nation's priority for peace.

Dev Raj Dahal, chief of FES said that violent conflicts in Nepal have punished human civility and imposed costs for the weaker sections of society and majority of them are caught in hierarchy and structural injustice.

"Media can influence policies in the areas of conflict and offer feasible perspectives for the actors to consider. Its communication tools and skills can also mediate various approaches and articulate the need for conflict transformation," he added.

Klaus Tesch, first secretary at the embassy for Germany said that the seminar would be fruitful to find out a solution for the crisis.

Prakash Adhikari, general secretary of Awake also spoke on the occasion.

In the second session of the programme, professor Parasar Koirala presented a working paper on "Role of Administrative Services for Restoring Peace', and political commentator Shrish S. Rana Presented a paper of 'Role of Constitutional Forces and the Media.'

Babita Basnet and Prakash Adhikari commented on the papers.

Awake, a political and professional organization, was established in 1998 and it is dedicated in the area of media services.

Source: The Rising Nepal (10 May 2005)

Role of youths vital in consolidating parliamentary democracy: Experts <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, May 7: At a time when youths are shying away from politics and showing apathy towards the political parties and their leaders, sociologists, political pundits and scholars today discussed how youths could be involved in the national politics.

Growing apathy towards politics is really a serious problem among the Nepalese youths.

They should be made aware about the national politics, political pundits and sociologists said.

Speaking at a seminar on "Education Young Generation about Democracy in Nepal," they said that the youths should be encouraged to take part in national politics, so that they understand social dimensions and political paraphernalia in the country.

Owing to lack of civic education among the youths, they are distancing from mainstreaming politics, they said adding "That's why politics is in the had of incompetent and corrupt people."

Senior journalist P. Kharel observed that youths should be made aware about the national politics so that competent and courageous leadership could be developed in the society. Kharel also pointed out the need for educating youths in the present context.

Anand Shrestha, executive director of the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) said that the youths should be encouraged to take part in healthy politics.

Shrestha also noted that the NFES had been conducting various awareness generation programmes in different parts of the country.

Senior advocate Yubaraj Shangraula also highlighted the role of youths in consolidation of democracy.

Youths are significant component of the society should be encouraged to participate in the politics, he added.

Presenting the paper on "The Role of Youth in Stabilizing Parliamentary Democracy in Nepal," Khagendra Prasai, an emerging sociologists said that the youths have a very crucial and vibrant role in parliamentary democracy.

The vitality of youth is not a positive force in itself, but there exists a danger of it being manipulated and used by others if he/she is not conscious.

He further said that the youths should develop some qualities which are required in democratic society.

They need to studious, thoughtful, critical and deliberative to make politics a positive force of change as expected and desired by the people.

Shanta Pokharel, a scholar speaking about youth, nation and nationalism said that nationalism ties diverse groups, liquidates their parochial grievances and inspires to their wills into sovereignty.

Building national culture to conform the state boundaries requires pluralist accommodation, she added.

Democratic exercises and development largely depend on the youths' involvement in politics, she added.

The one-day seminar was organized by the NEFAS. The NEFAS with the aim of generating awareness among people has been conducting seminars on civic education and youths in various parts of the country since last couple of years.

Source: The Rising Nepal (8 May 2005)

Peace education for young journalists <Top>

By a Reporter

A three-day workshop on the principles of peace education and practices of journalism was organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung from January 26 to 28, 2005 at Dhulikhel, about 40 km east of Kathmandu. The central theme of the workshop was "Peace Education for Young Journalists and Advocacy Actors." Joergen Klussmann, a German expert on peace education and conflict reporting, was the key trainer.

Although conflict reporting is relatively new for the Nepalese media, the subject has acquired considerable importance and emphasis in the recent years, particularly after the escalation of Maoist conflict which has claimed more than 11,000 lives apart from creating economic setbacks, hardships and instability across the country. Ever since 1996 when the Maoists went underground, the media began placing special attention to reporting events and developments concerning the conflict. This also led the media to realize the need to understand the sensitivities and complexities involved in conflict reporting. The role of the media in conflict situation is crucial in many ways. It can either play the role of a watchdog by taking a critical look at the combatants while analyzing the causes and consequences of a war or it can play the role of a propagandist trying to promote only one side while demonizing the other side.

The demand for training of journalists covering conflict-hit areas and related issues has increased. However, due to lack of resources and expertise most media people have not been able to enhance their knowledge and skills in conflict reporting. FES, since 2003, has been organizing workshops for Nepalese journalists and NGO activists dealing with communication sections of their organizations. In November 2003 and August 2004, the workshops were on "Peace Journalism: On the Road to Conflict Communication". The participants represented some of the most prominent media organizations in the country.

In response to the excellent feedback from senior editors and recommendations by the participants themselves, FES organized a three-day workshop in January 2005 also. The main theme was basically modeled on the previous two workshops but there were some changes and variations in the course, based on earlier suggestions and experiences.

The main objectives of the workshops were to make a critical assessment of media coverage of conflict-related issues, and victims of conflict and violence; discuss the constructive role media can play in de-escalating and even solving conflicts; enable journalists to prepare themselves adequately when visiting conflict-affected areas for news reporting; review and understand the role and responsibility of media in promoting peace through free, fair and impartial journalism.

A total of 20 participants, including five women, attended the workshop. They represented different institutions and FES partner organizations. The participants were nominated by heads of their organization. Most of them in their early 30s, the journalists were exclusively from Nepali language media. This kind of initiative by FES focusing on vernacular media was the first of its type in Nepal.

As in the previous two workshops, Joergen Klussmann, the German expert with considerable experience in conducting training on conflict reporting, was the principal trainer. Four local resource persons also made presentations. The local resource persons were Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office; L. D. Rai, Associate Professor at Tribhuvan University's Central Department of Journalism and Mass Communication; Ms. Shova Gautam, President of Institute of Human Rights Communication; and Umesh Upadhyaya, a Tribhuwan Univeristy Lecturer of Economics and expert on labor and trade union.

Source: People's Review (3-9 February 2005)

Changing Gender Relations <Top>

By our reporter:
On 31st December 2004, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a workshop on "Engendering the Development Process" at Hotel Greenwich Village. The participants of the workshop were FES partners representing the government, municipal federation, different NGOs, trade unions and media organizations. The workshop discussed about the challenges FES partners are facing while executing the projects and to familiarize them with changing gender role. Gender has become a cross-cutting theme for FES activities. Keeping this in mind, FES has started such program from the year 2004. Samira Paudel from FES highlighted the following objectives of the workshop to: familiarize partners with the mandate of FES, discuss about the problems FES partners had to face while integrating Gender in their project/activities,share information as to how to overcome the problem of gender integration and other works and sharing of their success stories, and become self-critical where programs were weak and elaborate the policy of what ought to be done.

It is an effort to seek an improvement in the quality and quantity of FES works sensitive to the liberal politics of women's promotion and gender equality. Constant reminding of gender equality in the works of FES has helped partners better understand the concept and importance of gender equality.

In the first part of the program, representatives of all FES partners shared their views regarding Gender. They explained how they have integrated Gender in their project/activities and what problems they had to face while doing so. The session helped organizations know each other and their work performance even in difficult times.

The experience sharing was followed by presentation of paper by Dr. Meena Acharya, Gender Expert, where she focused on gender relations, power dynamics and the problems of social integration. According to her, gender relation is not only participation. Participation lends primary level of influence. Impact and access to decision-making is more important. She also said that women's participation in subsistence sector is important. Without need fulfillment, there is no prospect for participation in strategic areas. She elaborated the paradigm shift from WID, WAD to GAD and other 12 major issues of concern in Beijing Conference. After her presentation, Narendra Upadhyaya (Media), Man Bahadur Bishwakarma (Dalit organization), Shambhu Shrestha (Media) and Khila Nath Dahal (Trade Union) discussed and analyzed the paper from their own perspective. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES moderated the session and extended the vote of thanks.

Source: People's Review (6-12 January 2005)


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