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FES Nepal in the Press - 2007

Call for massive reform in judiciary <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, Nov 24: Senior legal experts, legislatures and academia from various government and non-government organisations underlined the need for a massive reform in the judiciary process in state mechanism. A state can no longer continue the judiciary system that had been in practice in the previous political structure. Timely-reforms are essential to assure the judicial rights to the people, they said.

Speaking at a programme on 'State Mechanism and Judicial Rights' organised by the Administrative Court in assistance with the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), they also spoke as how reforms could be introduced at different levels of government organisations.

Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri, while speaking at a two-day seminar, underlined the need for enhancing efficiency of employees to deliver effective services to the people. He said that the Supreme Court is inundated with the workload, therefore, there is a need of restructuring the Supreme Court as well as other judiciary and semi- judiciary institutions.

Meanwhile RSS adds: Chief Justice Giri also said that in a democracy the judiciary is the agency giving continuity to the rule of law and the constitutional system in accordance with the law and providing concrete shape to the concept of rule of law by protecting the rights and welfare of the people.

Inaugurating a two-day workshop on ? Structure of the State and Right to Justice? organized by the Administrative Court here today, Chief Justice Giri said although the Supreme Court had to face different kinds of problems in the context of fulfilling its constitutional role, it has actively carried out works of dispensing justice.

He also suggested that it would be timely to assign to the Administrative Court the jurisdiction over cases relating to government and corporation employees in order to making the Supreme Court efficient and effective by reducing its work load.

At the programme, Minister of State for Labour and Transport Management, Ramesh Lekhak spoke of the need of searching the possibility of holding the election of the Constituent Assembly as it is the key to the restructuring of the state. He added that the election of the Constituent Assembly should not be used to one?s convenience.

Minister of State for General Administration, Ram Chandra Yadav said everyone should contribute to take the country forward towards progress by establishing peace. He also pointed out the need of making an assessment of our past activities.

President of Nepal Bar Association Bishwakanta Mainali expressed concern over the growing interference in the judiciary which works to maintain check and balance between the Executive and the Legislature and to protect the rights of the citizens. He stressed the need for raising collective voice for saving the country from being ruined.

President of the organizing institution, Kashiraj Dahal underlined the need for building strong state institutions for establishment of lasting peace and protection of the rights and interests of the citizens since always using the country as the laboratory of political games would lead to the people becoming apathetic to the political system as a whole.

Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, the senior judge at the Supreme Court while presenting a working paper spoke about the restructuring of judiciary system. He also pointed out the need of people?s country, ?but it should be accordance with the legal framework.?

Kashi Raj Dahal, chairman of the Administrative Court said that adequate reform majors were essential to make the judiciary more effective and people-oriented.

Representatives from different government organisations put forward their views. Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications Yuba Raj Pandey, head of the FES Dev Raj Dahal also presented their papers at the programme.

The seminar has been organised with the objective of gathering views in order to introduce reforms in the Nepalese bureaucracy and judiciary system, the officials say.

Source: The Rising Nepal (25 November 2007)


People bewildered by CA jargons <Top>

By Our Correspondent

Janakpurdham, Nov. 8: They are still uninformed and largely bewildered about the hyperbolic jargons on the constituent assembly and formulation of the new constitution to make new Nepal. They do not know what in fact the proportional electoral system is.

Not only the general public who are confused about the present political activities and the procedures about the formulation of new Constitution, even the local politicians, college professors, and journalists seem to be simmering with confusion since the Interim Legislature Parliament Monday passed two proposals which has directed the government to go for fully proportional electoral system and the set the date for the announcement of republic.

Each of them has their own interpretation and understanding. But still they are not sure about the procedures about elections of Constituent Assembly. Different groups have their different opinions and arguments. Surprisingly neither the government nor the non-governmental organisations has made any effort to educate them yet.

?It is a great irony that the government and particularly the political parties are talking much about the Constituent Assembly without letting the people know that they really mean," says former professor Janaki Saran Yadav.

The new schedule and modality of the upcoming constituent assembly are yet to be decided. Even though the Interim Legislature Parliament passed the proposals for fully proportional electoral system, the modality is yet to be decided. Moreover, the people have not been informed which model would be the appropriate according to the country's existing situation. It is said that the modality of electoral system would be decided in the regular session of the parliament which will be held in less than two weeks time.

Kashi Raj Dahal, chairman of the Administrative Court, says that awareness generation campaign among the people is a must to hold elections of the Constituent Assembly. Dwelling upon the topic entitled ?The Process of Nation Building, Constitution building and Civic Education" organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Dahal said that all political parties should work in tandem for political stability and development, for that visionary leadership is a must.

The formation of a new constitution takes place only on special occasion of a country's history. The process of formation of the constitution demands independent judiciary, press freedom, fearless situation, no external and internal interference and human rights, he said.

The cardinal objectives of the formulation of the new constitution are to establish sustainable peace, restructure of state and the development of the democratic (loktantrik) system, which according to Dahal is not possible without people's participation. He also elaborated different types of electoral system such as ? the existing system of maximum scoring, proportional electoral system and mixed electoral system.

During the discussion programme, local leaders, teachers and journalists accused the political parties and their leaders for undermining the existence of people. They said that this is the high time of building the nation. However, the political leaders are squabbling over the seats at the cost of the sovereignty of the nation. In fact people are tired of all the wheeling and dealing of political leaders, they said.

Dr. Ram Kumar Yadav, a political scientist observed that civic sense among the political actors and the people is a must to foster democratic culture in the society. Making of constitution is not a big deal, but the actors who implement it should be honest towards people and the nation. All political parties irrespective of their partisan interests should be united for the development of the nation, he said.

Majority of the people in this shantytown are more concerned about peace security and development.
Earlier, Nav Raj Dahal of the FES while highlighting the objectives of the programmes said that sense of responsibility, reconciliation, and respect were essential to foster democracy in the society.

The FES, according to Dahal, has been conducting massive awareness generation programmes on civic education, constituent assembly and democracy in more than 40 districts for the last one year.

Source: The Rising Nepal (9 November 2007)


NEFAS Seminar on Peace Building Held <Top>

TGW

Kathmandu: The Nepal Foundation of Advanced Studies (NEFAS) organized a seminar entitled “Post Conflict Reconstruction in Nepal” 7-8, October, 2007 last week.

The two day seminar funded by the FES (Freidrich-Ebert-Stiftung)Germany and participated in by Nepal’s noted scholars, University professors, Students, Journalists and others tried to address the ailments currently the country is engulfed with.

On the first day of seminar, Bharat Pokharel enlightened the audience with his working paper on, “Peace Building in Post Conflict Societies: Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Nepal”. Similarly, Mr. Shanta Bahadur Pun exposed the present inclusiveness of Nepal’s Institutions through a working paper on “How ' Inclusive' Nepal's Institutions?.”

Both the papers drew a lot of comments from the floor.

The next day Prof Dr. Sushil R. Pandey presented a thought provoking paper on “Peace Process in Nepal: Assumption and Speculation”.

Similarly former Journalist Jan Sharma presented a paper entitled, “International Community to Nepal's Peace Process.

Professor Ananda Prasad Srestha welcomed the participants. The FES country director, Dev Raj Dahal gave vote of thanks.

Source: The Telegraph weekly (10 October 2007)


Civic Rights and Duties Must Move Together <Top>

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized two-day three seminars on "Initiatives in Building Democracy: Education About Civic and Voters Education" at Dhading (September 26-27), Syangja (September 28-29) and Tanahu (September 30-October 1).

Accordng to the FES, the meetings were attended by 386 elites and public of these and other districts. They were political leaders, judges, lawyers, Chief District Officers, Police Officers, elections officers, women's organizations, members of civil society, human rights organizations and social organizations. The contents of seminars involved democratization, party building, civic education to voters, state building, peace process, knowledge and information about CA elections, issues of social transformation and management of social, economic and political tensions created by globalization, role of media and civil society and also those of the donors in these processes.

FES officials in Kathmandu informed that participants asked the questions about public sphere, the democratic development in the phase of capitalism, suitable strategies for achieving social justice, cooperative action of political parties, management of transition process, vision about economy, education, health and other public issues and the costs and benefits of adopting federalism. Some people stressed to need to establish "think thanks" in the country so that they can contribute to policies independent of political and interest groups considerations while others stressed the need for democratization of political parties and civil society so that they can broaden the base of social, economic and political policies.

Education about voters and civic rights and duties is a key to strengthen democracy and transform various identities of people into equal Nepali citizens. "Democracy requires compromise rather than absolutization of individual and particular group interest" said Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal office. Compromise, reconciliation and peaceful resolution of conflict require finding common ground and hidden connections among the drivers, actors and stakeholders of conflict and balancing their interests, positions and goals. These elements are also important for building democracy and development. Activation of citizens towards the national public issues and their meaningful participation alone can help them achieve the goals of Constituent Assembly, such as state building, inclusive democracy and sustainable peace." A strong state is a prerequisite for democracy, development and peace.

Added Constitutional Expert, Kashi Raj Dahal, "Vision must come before any action. Cooperative action is key to its success." He narrated various modes of elections, the mixed system adopted by Nepal and many of the challenges in realizing the vision of CA. Chandra Dev Bhatta, Ph D explained various components of democracy and suggested a number of measures necessary for the consolidation of democracy and building civic culture in Nepal. On the occasion FES distributed 450 copies each of four resource materials-state building and social transformation, Handouts on Democracy, Handouts on CA and a book on democracy. The program was supported by German Foreign Ministry.

Source: Tej Tara Weekly CHRONICLE (9 October 2007)


National sovereignty vital for development: Experts <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Oct. 8: Senior media persons, academia and political analysts have expressed their concern over the growing violence, anarchy and impunity that the nation has been experiencing in the recent years. Even though the Jana Andolan II has radiated many aspirations among the people, lack of understanding and lack of political culture among the political parties and their leaders have virtually pushed nation into jeopardy.

"We are at very critical juncture of the history. People are losing their confidence about the future of the nation mainly due to irresponsible and self-centered attitude of the political parties and their leaders," said academia and policy analysts.

Dwelling upon the issues relating to the ?peace building in Nepal?, they lambasted the major political parties and their leaders for creating confusion and frustration among the people. Not a single political party or a leader seems to be worried about the country?s future. As a neighboring country, Nepal should be able to win the confidence of India and China, they said. However, deteriorating political situation has eroded confidence of the general public, they said.

Exchanging their views at an interaction programme on "Post Conflict Peace Building Process in Nepal" organised by the Nepal Foundation of Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in assistance of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), they categorically said "major political parties are responsible for the harrowing fall in the people's confidence."

Some awful violence including the Gaur incidence, Kapilvastu carnage were few examples as how the country had been sliding into the crisis, they said. It seems that the country is on the verge of disintegration. The political parties are responsible for any kind of disintegration, he added. They even charged the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) of not making the registration of weapons clear and transparent. There are plenty of reasons to query the activities of UNMIN.

While speaking at the programme Dev Raj Dahal, an academia said that the Nepali state has lost its monopoly on power due to its erosion on its capacity for governance, growth of competitive violence, birth of a neo-patrimonial culture and erosion of policy sovereignty. Restoration of the reasons of state and core state functions is central to protect human rights.

But politics must resolve two deadlocks - between the tendency of the Seven Party Alliance to system maintenance and revolutionary polarization for its deconstruction of the CPN- Maoist and between the primacy of order of the former and revolutionary change of the latter, he said.

Even though the speakers were highlighting the essence of democracy, but they commented the country was losing its sovereignty. Some of the participants even hinted at the possibility of coup. Sushil Pandey, said that Nepal had become poorer and insecure and in large numbers o young people (about 2.5 million in 20 years) have left abroad for employment and migration continues unabated.

Jan Sharma, senior journalist emphasised the need for creating a conducive atmosphere for sustainable peace and security. However Sharma also expressed serious concern over the country's sovereignty.

Bidyanath Nepal, an economist and former secretary of the Nepal Government also expressed the view that people should be provided with economic opportunity or they should be economically and socially empowered.

Prof. Mohan Lohani, former ambassador, said that Nepal should maintain equal relations with both India and China.

Jitendra Dhowj Khand, an academia also underlined the need for unity and harmony among the people.

Source: The Rising Nepal (9 October 2007)


Social inclusion must for post-conflict reconstruction <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Oct. 7: All sorts of victims particularly the women and children who have born the brunt of conflict should be provided with adequate psychological and material support in the post conflict period.

Post conflict reconstruction could be successful only when the people in the conflict ridden areas feel empowered and assured of security, said economists, policy analysts and strategists at a programme here in the capital Sunday.

Exchanging their views at a two day seminar on "Post Conflict Reconstruction in Nepal" organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in cooperation of Friedrich-Ebert-Stifftung(FES), they observed that construction of roads, bridges or new buildings alone do not necessarily serve the objective of reconstruction, people from all walks of life irrespective of their political beliefs, caste and gender should be assured for equal access to the national resources. The new political dimensions that emerged after the JanaAndolan II have at least radiated new hopes among the people in the country, they said.

Former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr. Mohan Man Sainju said that 'development of infrastructures' alone does not assure security and post conflict reconstruction. People from different walks of life particularly the deprived section of the society should be given high priority, he said.

Sustainable peace is possible only when the people from all walks of life get equal opportunities. Traditional concept of security (that is armed security) cannot assure peace and security in the society, therefore, each citizen should be assured that he/she has equal and fair access to the national resources, he said. Exclusion, marginalization and poverty are the stumbling blocks for the sustainable development of the society. Therefore, the state should make all efforts to address these problems, he added.

Dr. Sainju expressed apprehension that extreme polarisation of political parties would derail the process of reconstruction and development. He said that sustainable development and peace would be possible only when people across the country feel empowered.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of the FES said that the inaction of government was responsible for allowing different groups to engage in violent action. Violence is the politics of pre-modern era. Modern politics should be executive by non-violent action for the achievement of common good. The Nepalese public is aspiring to reduce differences and low-intensity conflict after the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), said Dahal. Politics in Nepal is often played on a zero-sum mentality and dominant actor often indulge in mutual accusation rather than assuming collective accountability to build this nation, he added.

Executive director of the NEFAS Prof. Anand Shrestha expressed worry about the post-conflict reconstruction process. Violence, extreme polarisation of democratic forces has dragged the nation towards chaos. The political climate has changed after the postponement of the elections of the Constituent Assembly. However, the process of empowering people should not be obstructed.

Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma said that sustainable economic development would not be possible without social inclusion.

Dr. Bharat Pokhrel and Sant Bahadur Pun had presented their papers on the topic.

Source: The Rising Nepal (8 October 2007)


Civic Education: Balancing Democracy and Patriotism <Top>

By our correspondent

The Kathmandu-based German political foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized three programs on "Initiatives for Democracy Building in Nepal: Education about Civic and Voters Rights" at Baglung, Parbat and Lamjung. The programs involved the "local elites" of society, such as leaders of political parties, judges, Chief District officers, election officers, police officers, lawyers, school teachers, civil society organizations, youth and development workers so that they can act as multipliers of the messages about civic and voters education in rural areas. Over 420 became familiar about the changing political context, Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, elections systems, civic rights and responsibilities of various stakeholders of society, state building, peace process and key variables of democracy.

Speaking at the program Chief of FES Nepal office said, "The success of CA lies in holding free and fair elections mediated by greater participation of citizens and greater representation of their general interest. Linking people with the democratic political process and major socializing institutions of society and the state through continuous civic education enable them to exercise their rights and responsibilities as sovereign citizens." He added, " State-building, democratic polity and sustainable peace require the speedy management of political transition, breaking of deadlocks of various sorts, expanding the social base of politics and fostering a culture of constitutional patriotism. This is the way to establish democracy based on gender, social and inter-generational justice."

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal argued the CA has three basic aims: sustainable peace, state restructuring to make it inclusive of social, economic, cultural and territorial diversity and creation of a competitive democratic political system based on human rights and popular sovereignty. He added that politics is a means to link the state with citizens but there must be a clear "political road map" before the public—a map that clearly underlines the nature of head of state, nature of polity and social, economic and cultural policies. He also argued that "right to information provides space for political openness and mutual accountability of all the stakeholders of society towards democratic governance." Participants were curious to know how the eight-party alliance is going to articulate the suitability of the head of state, nature of federalism, economic policy and social inclusion agenda including the rights to self-determination. They argued that patriotism and democracy, rights and responsibilities and liberty and order should go together. They also asked questions as to whether the current leadership has the ability to execute social change which might go against their own political culture.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, Ph D scholar, London School of Economics, explained various facets of democracy and how they are related to each other. He stressed that civil society groups should be political but non-partisan, public, transcend the group interest of society and work for the general interest of public. They should not be essentially either anti-state or pro-market rather they should work to mediate the extremes of society for the development of civic political culture. Civic virtues of citizens grow with social trust, reciprocity and civil coexistence rather than neo-Hobbesian state of nature that is prevailing in the country. FES distributed over 500 copies of "Democracy," "Handouts on Democracy" and an "Introduction to Constituent Assembly" among the participants. The programs were supported by Foreign Ministry of Germany.

Source: Tej Tara Weekly CHRONICLE (11 September 2007)


German Envoy Inaugurates Peace Project in Nepal <Top>

German ambassador to Nepal Franz Ring today opened a new $7million GTZ project “Support of measures enhancing the peace process” which aims to bolster the ongoing peace process in Nepal.
The project aims at improving the living conditions in the Maoist cantonments and surrounding communities, the German ambassador said at a function organized to launch the project.
The project is among the series of activities the government of Germany to support the peace process in Nepal, Ring said adding that the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation provided civic and voter education to support the constituent assembly elections.
“The German development projects have been in a position to start providing assistance already since November 2006 in the areas of health services, medication and access roads, improving the sanitation in the cantonments and the surrounding areas as well as organizing surgical camps”, Ring said

Source: The Himalayan Times (11 September 2007)


For workers’ well-being <Top>

Dev Raj Dahal

The global liberalisation process has increased the movement of people, knowledge and technologies worldwide. But, in no way has it made the globe a common space where the rich and the poor can mutually benefit. There is a vast difference in working and living conditions. The income differentials are enormous. In this context, the increased access of South Asian lower middle class workers to international resources and opportunities has helped them to escape from the conditions of deprivation and insecurity and roll uphill seeking liberty and prosperity.

The regional countries are the recipients of huge remittances from their workers. In 2006 the World Bank reported that the South Asian region annually receives around $ 32 billion remittances. In Pakistan, remittances increased four-fold from just over $1 billion in 2001 to over $4 billion in 2003; in Bangladesh, it increased from $1.9 to $3.3 billion; in India, it increased from $12 to $21. 7 billion and Nepal receives $1.5 billion. If this trend grows then in the future its contribution to gross domestic product will outpace both foreign direct investment and official development assistance.

Except Bhutan and the Maldives, all the South Asian countries are labor surplus and labor is exported mainly to Malaysia, the Gulf region and East Asian countries. The outflow of regional workers and inflow of remittances have significantly aided the economic development of the South Asian region. The migration from labor surplus to labor deficit rich countries is so massive that it has become profitable to both sending and receiving countries.

The steady flow of foreign exchange that remittances have delivered continues to improve these countries’ balance of payment situation, stabilised the exchange rate, availed foreign exchange for imports and provided creditworthiness for external borrowing. But, these benefits are not without social costs for the workers, their children and other family members. And the changing demands of the workers have not been properly investigated.

The liberalisation of regional economies has facilitated workers’ social mobility but the level of workers protection that is conducive for sound labor market has not been sufficient. The wages and employment conditions equally affect the quality of life of the workers. In South Asia, labor market regulations and standards are being applied to industrial and organised sectors.

The workers employed in the informal sector do not have strong political agencies for free collective bargaining to demand for their legitimate rights, social security, safety nets and adequate social opportunities.

The explosive growth of manpower recruitment agencies in various countries of labor origin has become a new business enterprise. Workers who are sent abroad by overseas companies without formal agreements with the governments face a number of disadvantages such as low pay, overwork, passport seizure by companies, unhealthy working conditions, sexual abuse, torture, kidnapping and are even exposed to terrorist attacks.

Often workers are ill-advised by the local recruiting agents. When they go abroad they are forced to work in those areas other than was mutually agreed upon. Similarly, low wages, long working hours, lack of social security, deceptive visa practices too are common. There are no regional agreements or dialogues either for the mitigation of these ills or any policies towards a closer integration of labor markets.

So far the hard earnings of workers abroad have neither been estimated by South Asian policy makers nor the political and social implications of increasing migration of the youth been properly analysed. Likewise, South Asian governments have not formulated a coherent regional policy regarding labor market integration within the region and abroad and common negotiating position and policies about migrant workers as well as labor agreements with receiving countries.

There is a need to create South Asian task force on migration to review the existing national policy documents and formulate a model policy. It is high time to address the problems of South Asian workers working abroad, analyse domestic policy deficits, upgrade training and capacity building skills, develop policy coordination among the regional countries and build their skill and capacity as per the provisions articulated in core labor standards of ILO and global rules. The donors, market institutions and regional civil society can contribute to these efforts.

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospect (GEP) has urged developing countries faced by a large exodus of these skilled workforce and educated people, to improve working conditions in public employment, invest more in research and development and help identify job opportunities at home for returning migrants with advanced education. There is a need for governments of South Asia to regulate illegal recruitment and if possible have a policy on the regional level regarding their protection, security and safety.

Source: NewsFront (20-26 August 2007)


Migrating age <Top>

Roshan Pokharel

The 21st century has been termed as the ‘Age of Migration.’ Migrants securing jobs and going for better livelihood is fast getting recognition. The migrants are also agents of change in societies. Countries play different roles as sender, receivers or as transit points in the migration phenomenon. Migration not only raises standard of life at personal level, it also helps in development of the society through poverty reduction, transfer of skills, knowledge, ideas and construction of social networking.

That the experience from the neighbourhood could be a good learning exercise for Nepal was probably the reason that South Asia Centre for Police Studies (SACEPS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) jointly organised a regional seminar on 'Labour Migration, Employment and Poverty Alleviation in South Asia' with experts drawn in from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Security and protection of the migrant labourers remains a major issue of concern everywhere. India is contemplating introducing a system of public hearings to redress their grievances besides setting up a National Manpower Export Promotional Council. Nepal has set its priority to protect women migrant workers.

The regional seminar expressed general concern that SAARC countries’ general track record on the issue was not all that inspiring. Setting up of a labour cell in SAARC secretariat also found an endorsement of the experts.

As the migration in search of better opportunities or because of domestic conflict as in Sri Lanka and Nepal continue to rise in size and scale, ratification of national and international instruments pertaining to the rights of migrants and their families will be the first step to guarantee their rights and protection.

Source: NewsFront (13-19 August 2007)


Reforms that CA polls call for <Top>

Hari Bansh Jha

At this time, no issue is more talked about than election and electoral reforms. This is to be expected in a country where successive governments have been postponing CA polls for over five-and-a-half decades on one pretext or the other. But the momentum for CA elections gained ground only in the aftermath of Jana Andolan II, with CA polls proposed for June 2007.

Even though the date for CA election has been fixed for Nov. 22, 2007, doubts persist considering the deteriorating law and order situation. Amidst such speculation, the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS), a research organisation, organised a two-day seminar in the Kathmandu Valley recently on “Issues and Challenges of Electoral Reforms in Nepal” in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), a research wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

During the deliberations, participated by over 90 personalities, including politicians, journalists, academicians, and women, plus representatives of Janajatis, Dalits and Madheshis, nearly everyone agreed that election was the only non-violent method for societal transformation. They noted that the most difficult part of election was to ensure inclusiveness while at the same time addressing the pressing demands of various agitating groups and defeating communal and reactionary elements.

It was felt that low turnout of the voters might denote people’s lack of commitment and trust in the electoral system and apart from the FPtP system, the adoption of proportional system was suggested. It was also felt that low level of understanding among the people about the mixed electoral system was a big challenge. In this context, the EC needs to initiate awareness programmes to help people understand the mixed electoral system and the technicalities involved.

Likewise, the Election Constituency Delineation Committee (ECDC) was viewed as a stumbling block to CA polls for lack of experts in the panel. The EC itself isn’t free of blame for its lack of transparency. Statistics reveal that the cost-per-vote in elections had been increasing. From a meagre Rs 10 during House of Representatives (HoR) election in 1991 the amount jumped to Rs 20 in 1994 and finally to Rs 27 in 1999. For the CA polls, the cost-per-vote is likely to shoot up to Rs 107.

Apart from EC, candidates and foreign agencies too spend a lot of money in the name of voters’ education. With the growth in election expenses, it is difficult for the poor, honest and deserving candidates to fight and win the elections as they cannot afford to pay for 3 G’s: Guns, gold and goons. The EC needs to monitor the flow of money during the election and devise strategies to punish those who do not follow the code of conduct. The seminar concluded: CA polls, conducted in free and fearless manner, could give a new lease of life to the nation; while failure to do so at the scheduled date might invite a larger catastrophe. The CA election is also important for its role in institutionalising the gains of the people’s revolution.

Source: The Himalayan Times (27 July 2007)


Politics of compromise <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER

If one goes by what Prof Dr. Thomas Meyer idea about an ideal path to democracy, our attempts to bring in peace, reconciliation and to institutionalize democracy are only half-hearted efforts.

Dr. Meyer of University of Dortmund at a programme on July 18 made a comprehensive presentation on how democracy could be activated and made credible and successful and his focus was on compromise, which he called advanced school of democracy. "The culture of clever compromise has shown itself to be one of the prerequisites for a credible and successful democracy," he said.

"In a compromise, two or more participants agree that each of them will waive their right to completely push through their own interests, so that all participants are able to realize as many of their political goals as possible in a way that is acceptable to all sides."

He called pluralism as the basis of freedom and democracy and discussed about the four political strategies for dealing with conflict of interests - Authoritarianism, consensus building, strict majority decision and compromise.

Of the four strategies Dr. Meyer talked about our present political situation is a clear evident that the eight-political parties have failed to go beyond the third strategy where the interests of the minorities have not been taken into consideration.
The programme organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung may give a food for thought to our political parties, civil society members and others on why Nepal despite the changes in the government, political leadership and even the system has rather added up problems instead of resolving them.

Dev Raj Dahal, head-FES Nepal welcomed the participants and guests and Daniel Reichart, South Asia Desk Officer, FES Germany, addressed on behalf of FES headquarters.

Source: People's Review (26 July - 1 August 2007)


Compromise for peace and integrity <Top>

By Suresh Sharma

The recent developments and upheavals are not at all encouraging. The attention of the media and the public is geared toward the volatile security situation and rampant human rights violation in east and mid-terai districts. Although the election to the Constituent Assembly (CA) is already slated for November 22, there is still a long way to go with respect to addressing the growing unrest in terai and bringing the agitating groups into confidence.

The political turbulence and uncertainty in terai needs to be tackled without further delay. Unless the genuine demands of the terai people and other ethnic groups are not dealt with vision and statesmanship, the forthcoming election to the Constituent Assembly will not be held on schedule. If it is held without resolving the terai conflict, it will be a futile exercise, a waste of resources and meaningless effort.

The leaders of the present coalition government and the eight party alliance should immediately realize it and do the needful to address the issues raised by the agitating groups of terai people, Janajatis and the Dalits at the earliest. Time is running out. We now hardly have four months at our disposal to finish the entire preparations for the CA polls.

There is no room for leaders to commit mistakes when national unity and integrity is at stake. Political leaders should keep in mind that there are other pertinent issues and challenges, apart from the primary responsibility of maintaining the law and order. The other issues include educating and creating awareness among the public regarding the CA polls and make the voters willingly prepared to exercise their voting rights : The process of making the CA polls inclusive and representative both in spirit and action; fashioning its mode of operation in a transparent way to ensure a free and fair process; respecting individual decision of citizens in their right to franchise without coercion and trepidation from any political parties or groups; ensuring that the election codes of conduct are followed adequately and wholeheartedly by all contesting parties; etc.

As such an uphill task is lying ahead, the political leaders should be bold enough to face the situation. They must reconcile their differences within and among the parties, take organized collective action and make quick and meaningful decisions to lead the country.

The present situation which the country is experiencing is not what the general public had anticipated at the time immediately following the success of April uprising. The people had a lot of expectation from their political leaders. The hopes of the people are gradually dwindling realizing the current political chaos and vulnerable security situation plaguing the country.

The reprehensible acts of violence and atrocities exhibited by the agitating terai groups are pushing the country into a state of anarchy. The Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in November last year has surely raised a new ray of hope - marking as an end of the decade-long conflict, but now, it's being realized that there is a vast difference between signing the agreement in paper and practicing and adhering to its principles on the ground.

The Maoist leadership has marred the veracity of the peace agreement by their double entendre attitude and behavior. On the one hand, the Maoists are now part of the coalition government and are accountable to the people from the legal standpoint. However, on the other, the Young Communist League continues to intimidate people. The seeds of violence and armed-conflict sown by the Maoists are now being replicated with ferocity by none other than their erstwhile friends - Madhesi People's Rights Forum and both the factions of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) among others.

The statement recently issued by JTMM-Jwala Singh group threatening the hills-origin government officials of strong physical actions if they fail to evacuate the terai districts within two weeks is filled with communal sentiments. Such a refutable, irresponsible and immature statement is not only deplorable and unpalatable to a Nepali but also seems indicative in dividing the age-old solidarity and fraternity of Pahades and Madhesis.

The brutal killing of Ram Hari Pokharel, the secretary of Govindapur VDC of Siraha district by the cadres of JTTM-J on baseless grounds is yet another cowardly and egregious display of barbarism. Such a merciless killing is not subject to justification or clarification under any pretext. Side by side, by blatantly rejecting the ultimatum of the government to renounce violence and sit for peaceful negotiation, the credibility of the leadership of JTMM-J and its claim of representing the genuine demands and aspirations of the terai people is seriously questionable.

The political leaders should learn something from the decade-long Maoist insurgency and from countries like Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Iraq where conflict is continuing unabated owing to non-compromising attitude of conflicting parties and lack of empathy and value for human lives. If all the agitating groups in Nepal continue to fight and engage among themselves by resorting to violent means of extortions, abductions and killings, then how can we anticipate that an amicable environment will prevail for the forthcoming CA elections?

It is a well-known fact that irrespective of our topographical variation and diversity in culture, religion, ethnicity, the Nepali people have learned to coexist in mutual harmony whether they belong to Madhes or Pahad since the dawn of our civilization. Our first identity is being a Nepali irrespective of our origin or descent. Let the political leaders of various agitating parties, splinter groups and forums give their first priority to uphold our national integrity intact. They should immediately settle for a peaceful dialogue with the government and learn to compromise their petty problems and vested interests for the sake of our greater national unity in this precarious transitional period.

A renowned German Professor- Thomas Meyer, who chairs the Political Science Department at the Dortmund University, has the following message for us during a talk program in Kathmandu very recently: "Democracy is about compromises. It is not about inconsiderate application of majority rule," He further said "Compromises often reduce the costs for maintaining one's own interests,"

Meyer stressed that supportive political culture is as essential as institutions to sustain democratic polity. Coincidentally, myself being an alumnus from the same university, now I realize how truly his words can be applied to deal with our present situation.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (24 July 2007)


FES Meet On 'Compromise-Ideal Path to Democracy' <Top>

By Bipin Jangam

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a non-profit German based organization held a program in Lalitpur on July 18 for awareness on dynamics of democracy with the topic ‘Compromise-Conflict-Consensus’.

A comparative empirical research report by Professor Dr. Thomas Meyer of Political Science Department at University of Dortmund on‘Compromise-The Ideal Path to Democracy’ was presented. Speaking on the occasion country director for FES Nepal, Devraj Dahal stated the importance of compromise and conflict management for consensus formulation. Dahal also highlighted the importance of sustainable development, peace and reconciliation, conflict management and healthy social judicial system. Dahal concluded that democratic constitution through compromise as means of consensus is ‘the rule for everyone by everyone’ and it will serve as an effective optimization on conflict management.

Addressing the program on behalf of FES headquarters, South Asia Desk officer Daniel Reichart highlighted the contributions of FES on democratization and the importance of empirical researches and also spoke about the books by Professor Dr. Meyer on the dynamics of democracy. He also spoke about the eight-party alliance and the needs of
compromise as foundations for consensus and resolve conflict management in Nepal.

At the program, Professor Dr. Meyer presented his comparative research report on dynamics of democracy on a democratic state. He stated the importance of comparative empirical research methodology of political science for ideal democratic practice worldwide. Dr. Meyer cited the works of previous researchers on his presentation of ‘Compromise-The Ideal Path to Democracy’.

He stated the importance of rational cognitive decision-making and problem-solving skills from political science and the importance of Participative-Decision-Making (PDM) in the context of conflict management and clever rational compromises.According to Dr. Meyer freedom of expression is necessary to formulate the consensus and resolve any conflict in a democratic state. He also mentioned that considerations and compromises are measures of balanced democratic culture and the umbrella protocol to resolve conflicts.

Dr. Meyer also highlighted the inclusion of minority and gender at all levels and said that lower poverty, lower discrimination are measurement techniques for healthy democratic culture. He also said that the authoritarian culture cannot fulfill such requirements nor it can make clever compromises, but develop hasty environment to betray authorities
for personal and other benefits that fosters unhealthy reward system.

Meyer concluded his presentation by adding a mediator model of win-win situation of compromise based political culture, in which language and communication serves as a mediator for understanding and maintaining a trustworthy authority in the state. He also added that naturalistic observation techniques and tutorial classes on political culture through media and education would foster to create an ideal role model for healthy political culture.

Source: Tej Tara Weekly CHRONICLE (24 July 2007)


'Lazy compromises' fail parties to yield results <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Lalitpur, July 18: In the last over five decades, Nepal witnessed almost three major political revolutions followed by a series of compromises that pledged to bring about positive changes in the social and economic lives of citizens.

But immediately after the political parties that were involved in the democratic movements and the establishments (rulers) struck a deal of compromise, it came under the ring of suspicion with the dissenting factions in and outside the political parties coming to the streets to protest the agreement.

Even the agreement between the seven political parties and the palace in the aftermath of the April movement last year is being interpreted as anti-people and anti-democratic although a stunning number of people were behind the revolution.

Why do these compromises look shaky and fail to function effectively?

German political scientist Professor Dr. Thomas Meyer offers some clues to understand the failures of compromises that end in disillusionment and create new kind of conflicts.

One can compare 'lazy compromises,' a form of compromise classified by Dr. Meyer, to interpret the fragile political consensus hammered out by the Nepali political parties.

"Lazy compromises are forms of treason against the goals, values and interests which participants believe in to satisfy completely different, often egoistic goals for which there is no justification," said Meyer at a talk programme entitled 'Compromise - the Ideal Path of Democracy' organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Lalitpur Wednesday.

He said that the exemplary character of such 'lazy compromises' for the public could quickly and effectively discredit the entire concept of 'compromise' in the long run, right down to language itself, especially if no positive examples could be effectively given to counterbalance this.

"Very often in politics, particularly when democracy has not yet been established many of the goals declared during election campaigns are sacrificed for the sake of mere egoistic interests of politicians involving political office and power," added Dr Meyer, who is also chairman at the Political Science Department of Dortmund University, Germany.

He said that compromises had the productive function of resolving conflicts whenever the complete establishment of the interests of the stronger party did not bring about a lasting solution. "This means that the decisions which were made unilaterally is constantly brought into question and is therefore not stable."

The German think tank stressed that good and fair compromises are an essential part of the political culture of democracy. "They are an expression of political cleverness because in the long run they often secure the interest of the participation better and in a more sustained way than a short-term display of power superiority."

He defines compromise as a decision-making process, which simultaneously makes possible long-term stable results and the security of democracy and is the key to the democratic culture.

"A compromise is therefore a political strategy of cleverness, foresight and consideration."

In compromise, two or more participants agree that each of them will waive their right to completely push through their own interests so that all participants are able to realise as many of their political goals as possible, he noted.

He underscored that the most important conditions for the continuous work and the proper performance of democratic institutions in the area of political culture are trust and the ability to reach a clever compromise.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of Nepal-FES office said that a search for common good is the price of compromise as it seeks a balance between the general and particular will of citizens.

"Weak consensus - the unwillingness to abide by the agreed rules ? and sectarian feelings can easily threaten the common sense of nationhood," Dahal said.

He said that democracy could make sense if it puts peace and reconciliation as its highest values and cares for the social justice for all. "If all actors followed reasonable action, the conflict which divides them would be resolved in compromise and creates opportunities o live in a world of diversity."

Source: The Rising Nepal (19 July 2007)


Democracy requires political primacy over army: Dr. Meyer <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, July 17: Eminent German Professor Dr. Thomas Meyer Tuesday said that democracy required the political primacy over the military in all basic respects.

"The pattern of such primacy may, however, differ from country to country under the influence of history, culture and society," Dr. Meyer told a talk programme on ?Civil Military Relations in Modernizing Democracy' here this afternoon. "Every state is a different case because of its particular history, traditional role of military, the record of military institutions and the individual persons in uniform."

There is no unified model of democratic control of military, but democratic control as such is a necessity everywhere, he added.

Dr. Meyer, who arrived here Monday at the invitation of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, spoke on the need to institutionalise additional forms of civil control to prevent militarism of the society.

He said professionalism both on part of the political officials who were in charge of the military and the military personnel themselves was a key to the full compatibility between the two sides.
"The best way to protect a democracy is a professional military with professional form of leadership under the rule of political primacy."

"A democracy in which the military is exempt from democratic rule in one way or another is a defective democracy," said Dr. Meyer. "Such democracy neither possesses the full legitimacy as the necessary basis for stability nor works properly."

He said a democracy that remained defective over time would lose legitimacy at home and trust and credibility internationally.

Asked what could be the best way to integrate Maoist People Liberation Army into the Nepal Army, Dr. Meyer said, "It depends on the mutual agreement of the two sides. First, they need to sign an accord specifying the values and institutional structure. Then it should be implemented under the surveillance of a parliamentary commission."

Organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the talk programme was participated in by academicians, military and police personnel, government officials and civil society representatives.

Speaking at the programme, Daniel Reichart of Division for International Cooperation Department for Development Policy-Asia and Pacific of FES, stressed the need for civic education for civil and military personnel.

Source: The Rising Nepal (18 July 2007)


For fraternity among ex-policemen <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER

The Nepal Ex-Policemen's Association and Saugat Legal Research Centre organised a two-day workshop on Jestha 31 and Ashad 1 to establish contacts and coordination and to develop the feeling of fraternity for a dignified and peaceful life of the ex-police servicemen as well as for their rights. At the workshop, they exchanged experiences of their working period and their ideas and opinion about national security and national development and the contribution they can make to the constituent assembly elections.

Former IG D.B. Lama chaired as well as highlighted the objectives of the workshop, which was supported by FES. Summing up the conclusion of the workshop former Senior Superintendent of Police Dr. Chuda Shrestha said that the former police personnel couldmade significant contribution towards democracy, nation-building and in providing security in the constituent assembly election. He said that in other countries, ex-service personnel are in high positions, but in our country, very few ex-service personnel are involved in jobs and employment.

At the workshop, Country Director of FES Dev Raj Dahal said the ex-service personnel should raise voices against the deteriorating situation of nationalism. He said political parties only say there is foreign interference, but they do not say where it came from. "No one dares to oppose or raise voice against the activities of the political parties," he added.
The former police personnel said that they do not only want to get pension from the government rather they still want to contribute to the country and the society.

Source: People's Review (12-18 July 2007)


Peace must for fair elections <Top>

RSS

LALITPUR, July 7: A fearless atmosphere should be the first condition for successful elections to the constituent assembly, said speakers at a programme organised here Saturday.

Speaking at a talk programme organised by the Economic and Technical Studies Centre here Saturday, former Chief Election Commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha said a peaceful atmosphere was a must for free and fair elections.

Former Election Commission Birendra Mishra said the constituent assembly elections should materialise the people's constitutional and fundamental rights.

Former Minister Nilamber Acharya said as violence continued in some parts of the country, holding the elections in a fearless atmosphere was challenging.

Source: The Rising Nepal (8 July 2007)


Nepal: Polls be held only when security ensured <Top>

TGW

Nepal’s intellectuals, academicians, constitutional and election experts have said that the nation should go to the CA polls only after the redressal of the grievances of the now agitating Terai, Janjatis, Chure-Bhawar, women folks, the dalits and the likes or else the CA polls results will be dubbed as illegitimate.

Other experts said that at least the country must be free from intimidation, abduction, extortion and that a sort of fear less atmosphere should prevail in the country at least three months ahead of the polls.

Thus the Nepali academia favors CA polls on time but demands conducive atmosphere prior to the conduct of the polls.

At a Center for Economic and Technical Studies and FES sponsored seminar held in Kathmandu today, speakers like Dev Raj Dahal- the FES Nepal Office Chief, Surya Prasad Shrestha-the former Chief Election Commissioner and Nilambar Acharya-a constitution expert, made it known that election to the constituent assembly must allow the lay men to cast their votes which ensured their welfare after the polls.

The chief guest Mr. Surya Prasad Shrestha of the seminar on Electoral Reforms opined that the “important task ahead is to hold CA polls in a peaceful, free and fair manner”.

He further said that the “recent disturbances and discontent among the Terai people and the Janajatis in the hills have given bad signals against the peaceful conduct of the upcoming election”.

In an implied manner honorable Shrestha hinted that the CA polls will have no legitimacy if it were held in a chaotic manner without addressing the pressing demands of the currently agitating groups.

Analyzing the disturbing trends in some parts of the country, honorable Shrestha says that the present chaos in the country demands what he calls, unity, solidarity and democracy by fighting against the communal forces and the reactionary elements”.

This does mean that Mr. Shrestha concludes that communal harmony that subsisted in between various communities in Nepal stood shattered at the moment. (Mr. Shrestha’s full text will appear on our website Tuesday evening).

Similarly, Nilambar Acharya maintained that the CA polls though a highly democratic exercise, however, the conduct of the polls must be held only when the nation is free from fear and intimidation. In the process, Mr. Acharya demanded that the government must ensure adequate security in the country so that the lay men could cast their votes in a free and fair manner. “Or else, the results of the polls will lose its legitimacy both domestically and internationally”, Acharya concluded.

Dev Raj Dahal, the chief of the FES Nepal Office in his welcome remarks at the inaugural session of the seminar said that “a free and fair democratic election changes the society without violence”.

He further said that “only free and fair elections can contribute to ease the nation’s transition process by offering a number of choices which are essential to strengthen the integrative capacity of the political system and its external adaptability and open the citizens’ window to enlightened cosmopolitanism”.

Professor Dr. Hari Bansh Jha, the organizer of the said seminar, hoped that the deliberations at the two day seminar will come up with broader ideas that the State could adopt at time of the elections.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (8 July 2007)


Civic education programs in the periphery <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER

Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized three two-day training on “Initiative for Democracy Building: Education About Voters and Civic Rights” at Gorkha (June 24-25), Hetaunda (June 26-27) and Chitwan respectively (June 28-29).

The training course involved state-building and social transformation, Constituent Assembly elections (CA), civic and human rights and duties of various stakeholders of society, voters and civic education, and discussion of the handouts on democracy, CA, elections, roles and responsibilities of various institutions of society including political parties, civil society and citizens at large. About 500 copies of various handouts including a book on democracy were distributed among the participants and non-participants.

Speaking on the occasion head of FES Nepal Office, Dev Raj Dahal said, “A foundation of shared values, attitudes and institutions that binds together the various subsidiary identities of the nation and their transformation into citizens through civic education are the major tasks for nation-building. The CA elections have forced Nepalese open themselves to a dynamic perception of the shared future and become resistant to fatalism, irrationalism and exclusiveness.” But, there are challenges also if the preconditions of modernity, such as civic education, technology, economy, organization and leadership, are not realized in the course of the management political transition. He added that breaking various deadlocks is essential to move the nation along civic values that are congenial with pluralistic politics, entrepreneurship and social justice.

Another speaker Kashi Raj Dahal, Chairman, Administrative Court, said, “Shortening of the transition period and holding CA elections are critical to avoid social resistance and legitimacy deficit.” He argued that political leadership must craft a political road map, seek resources and define a legitimate course of action. He shared international experiences of CA, advantages and disadvantages of various elections systems, principles underlying the free and fair elections and the roles of various stakeholders of society including media, civil society, political parties and citizens.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, Ph. D. Scholar at London School of Economics, explained various components of the “Handouts on Democracy” and contemporary political scene of Nepal. He said that strong democracy requires strong state because democracy exists within the nation-state. Over 360 participants representing various political parties, civil society organizations, women’s associations, colleges and schools, Dalits and Ethnic Organizations, courts, police, local government officials involved in elections and development and social organizations took part in the meetings.

The discussion took place between the participants and the resource persons and among the participants themselves. The main concerns of the participants were: security situation, law and order, lack of freedom of movement due to regular strikes, use of violence in politics, mistrust among party leaders, necessity to organize civic education program in rural areas and enabling politics to play a role in policy making. They argued that the basic function of politics is to give justice, voice and participation of the weaker sections of society. In each program participants expressed their commitment to share knowledge they have learned to the place of their work, family and society. The programs were supported by the German Foreign Ministry.

Source: People's Review (05-11 July 2007)


Role of Media in Civic Education <Top>

Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES

A responsible media enables free exchange of ideas and information vital to the resilience of democratic political culture. Media is grounded in public, educates the public, justifies its activities in the name public and stimulates voluntary participation of citizens in public affairs. It is a nerve of the polity. In transition countries like Nepal it equally serves key roles in democratic opening, democratic initiatives, democratic consolidation, democratic expansion and democratic deepening. How to make Nepal’s media power inclusive of social, economic and political hierarchy and diversity? How can it guarantee the voice, visibility and representation of excluded and marginalized in Constituent Assembly (CA) elections?

The objective of this write up is to sharpen the understanding of journalists on democracy, CA elections and roles and responsibilities of journalists in voters and civic education. Modern society is largely media-mediated as family, religion and schools are becoming weak in the socialization of citizens. The emergence of public sphere in which media is also situated— has occupied a centrality of the freedom of expression and communicative space for democratic debate. Media provides contextual knowledge which is essential to resolve various types of electoral problem maintain electoral integrity as well as help in the rationalization of governance.

Autonomy of Public Sphere

The April 2006 mass movement has reestablished the sovereignty of Nepali people. This means political power has to be accountable to the public. Exercise of sovereignty requires civic knowledge about rights and responsibilities among the people of various social origins. Civic education is a training of people into citizenship rights and duties, respect to others’ legitimate views and civil co-existence. It is also a process of socialization of people into the structure and functions of political system and its environment and even politicization by which various mini-identities of societies, such as caste, class, gender, ethnicity, religions and regions can be transformed into a single meta identity—Nepali citizen. Media can contribute to ease the nation’s transition process by offering a number of choices which are essential to strengthen the integrative capacity of the political system and its external adaptability and open the citizens’ window to cosmopolitanism.

Ideally, political sphere is autonomous of the interest groups of society, therefore, every citizen share this sphere equally. Inequality in access to daily public communication makes citizens weaker and tears their attachment with the state—the very base of civic patriotism. A vibrant democracy requires not only political equality but also civic competence of citizens to participate, represent, cast vote and involve in public activities. Mass media can act as a medium in this whole process.

Media’s Role in Civic Competence

Civic education differs from two types of education—one that instrumentalizes citizens and the other one indoctrinates them. Instrumental rationality tends to control thought, manufactures consent and drowns the voice of reason, public opinion and democratic will-formation. Indoctrination exposes them into conformity and a sense of false consciousness. In this sense, civic education is emancipatory in nature because it gives the citizens a critical sense of inquiry in thinking, judgment and action. But, without responsible media these functions cannot be achieved. Why is civic education needed at this time in Nepal and what roles the Nepalese media can play?

The forthcoming elections for CA have made national politics an open-ended affair. Nepalese media can provide knowledge, stimulate active participation, foster meaningful dialogue and ownership of public in the agenda-setting of CA. Media can equip them with participatory resources. It is crucial for the citizens to exercise their voting and civic rights in the law-making process, train them with civic knowledge and skills and familiarize them with various issues such as knowledge about the objectives of CA, transition management, election system, civic and human rights, re-designing the state, inclusive system, voters information, etc .

Democracy requires people to make critical choices on public policy matters. Sustained access to information and a balance between the world of public politics and that of personal morality provide the citizens an ability to rationally judge the issues. Information revolution has made knowledge a key to the empowerment of citizens in public affairs. Media frames citizens’ perception of belonging and a shared future. A responsible media can thus socialize citizens for a culture of democracy and peace and reshape the development of a civic political culture that is rational, tolerant and humane.

Information revolution is opening the prospect for a new regime of participatory democracy. In Nepal it is enlarging the concept of citizenship from political sphere to economic, social and ecological spheres and new form of accountabilities of the governance to citizens’ various needs, concerns, interests and aspirations. Deliberation on these matters can enable the people to make a distinction between moral judgment which is private view and political judgment which concerns a larger public and society and their sustained quest for constitutional state.

Conclusion

The fundamental objective of Nepalese media now is to provide citizens—both male and female-- a comprehensive knowledge of what they are expected to know about vital national issues, about politics and their duties as sovereign citizens. To make politics public citizens should be given critical knowledge about civic education. Only then, politics can foster peace through every one’s stake in it and inculcates a sense of gender, inter-generational and social justice at all levels of society. Injustice and invisibility perpetuate the breakdown of communication. Media can play an important role to make democracy for everybody by reaching to even the passive and alienated populace and sensitizing them on public questions. By providing critical information responsible media nurtures an informed society capable of making vital choices in CA process and contributing to peace, social justice, human rights and participatory democracy.

Source: The Telegraph weekly (20 June 2007)


Vital Role Of Press <Top>

THE role of a free media in a democracy is vital because of the ramifications that it has. Sine the establishment of loktantra in the country a little over a year back, the media has received prominence in strengthening democracy. Its contribution is also important in informing the people of the constituent assembly election which is due to take place soon. There may be confusions in the public regarding the constituent assembly and the mode of election to be decided soon. It is the duty of the media to make the people aware of the constituent assembly election and the part it will play in framing an all-inclusive democracy in the country. This entails greater responsibility on the media in disseminating correct and impartial information to the people in the run up to the constituent assembly election. This is considered important in institutionalising the gains that have been made so far. Of course, there remain some problems, but they will be amicably sorted out by the eight political parties.

In this connection, speaking at the inaugural of the Fifth National Convention of Press Chautari Nepal on Wednesday, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the press had a positive role to play as it is vital in the present state of the country's transition. This highlights the fact that the Fourth Estate is very important and has to play its role in the overall context of the country. It has a role in prepare a conducive environment for the CA elections to be held at an appropriate time. Of course, the date for the polls is yet to be decided by the eight parties and announced by the interim government. The task of the press is to remain unbiased in publishing news reports that are favourable to the decisions regarding the polls. They should also create awareness among the people regarding the constituent assembly and its election. But, for all this to happen the press should be free. It must also remain within bounds and not act in sensationalising unnecessary controversial issues.

Source: The Rising Nepal (15 June 2007)


Nembang draws people's attention towards polls <Top>

RSS

KATHMANDU, June 14: Speaker of the legislature-parliament Subash Nembang has drawn attention of all people towards the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls while saying that a new Nepal cannot be constructed without it.

Inaugurating the two-day long workshop on 'democracy, building nation, CA elections and security' organized by the Nepal Ex-Police Association and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal here today, he said people of each class, community and level should help in making the CA polls a success and head the country in the path of progression.

Chairman of the Association and Legislator D.B. Lama, general secretary Ganjasingh Gurung, security specialist Dr Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, chairman of the former civil servants employees' council Ram Binod Bhattarai opined that no one should work for weakening the nation and nationality.

At the programme, FES chief Dev Raj Dahal presented a working paper on 'current political situation, democracy and CA polls' whereas advocate Kashiraj Dahal on 'process of CA polls and its need'.

At the workshop organized with an objective of discussing on theoretical and pragmatic aspects of entire security system of Nepal, some 200 representatives of British Gurkhas Army, Indian Army, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, former civil servant employees council, community service centre and various NGOs were present.

Source: The Rising Nepal (15 June 2007)


Media should inform people about CA polls <Top>

POST REPORT

LALITPUR, June 13 - Speaker of the interim parliament Subash Nembang said that the role of the media is very important for the institutionalization of loktantra in the country.
Speaking at a function in Lalitpur on Sunday, Nembang said every problem could be solved through the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls. "People should be aware of their role for CA polls and media's role is vital in this regard," said Nembang.

Nembang further reiterated that parliament would pass the bills on election very soon.

The president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists Bishnu Nisthuri, president of Nepal Press Council Rajendra Dahal, senior journalists Tara Nath Dahal, Harihar Birahi and others also expressed their views at the function.

On the same occasion, Dev Raj Dahal, Kashi Raj Dahal and Binay Kumar Kasaju presented papers on the theme of loktantra, the CA polls and the role of media.

Some 50 media persons from Kathmandu and neighboring districts are taking part in the two-day seminar/training organized by National Media Development Center that started on Wednesday.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (14 June 2007)


Civic Competence of Voters <Top>

Dev Raj Dahal, FES

Is the political system in harmony with representativeness? Does the electoral system make citizens approach the political system? Do both systems provide the voters self-constitution and self-organization or just mean to subject them to the realities of power struggle? One can safely assert that voting rights are not something hopelessly legalistic, it is civic, political and practical whose awareness among the Nepali voters is wretchedly superficial and low. Mere formalization of rights makes voters bitter, skeptical, passive and ultimately apathetic. In other words, they end up precisely which the democratic regime does not want them to be. Voter education should constitute a big part of Nepal's elections as the bulk of the electorate is participating for the first time and many simply do not know the meaning of voting at all. How is the message of election put forward? How do people know their choices? Manifestoes of political parties, gluttonous speeches of candidates, directives, norms and orders reflect only one aspect of the world of politics. The web of civic life consists of dense network of citizens.

This does not prevent vote buying and selling, character assassination of candidates, belittling national sensitiveness, social harmony and decent voting behavior which indicates the abdication of one's own reason, conscience and civic responsibility unless voters themselves participate in defining and creating world-views. Their ability in doing so places them in a position to make political decisions with sufficient bearing for the nation and people. What are the foundations of civic obedience? Civic knowledge and skills. The educational process should lead to discovery, not indoctrination; insight, not facts and data; and engagements, not just interest. It should help challenge outmoded values and assumptions and consciously induce them to involve in the political process.

Preparation of youth for participatory democracy requires continuous discourses focusing on the acquisition of civic knowledge and voting skills to engage and act on important public issues and challenge the fundamental problems in Nepali political and economic system, such as corruption, cronyism, opaque politics and economics and squandering of development funds in unproductive activities. Civic competence of citizens sets out what are the rights of citizens, what they may do and what they may not do as well as to move into the sphere of imagination, self-experience, reflection and will to sovereignty. It is here citizens develop a sense of trust in political authority and facilitate their engagements in politics.

The basic objective of civic education is to bring activities of parliament closer to the people. Nepalis must establish the habit of active citizenship through educative means, that is, being players, not spectators, and assume personal commitment and responsibility for what is going on in their communities, localities and the nation-state. Unfortunately, there is woeful absence of civic education by schools, by the press and perhaps by parents which speaks a lot about "non-voting" behavior of citizens. In this sense, adequate civic competence is essential because it helps to revolt against the normalizing function of traditional politics and stages a dialectical play between democratic theory and real-politik.

In Nepal so far the state supports political parties in giving space in the state-run television and radio, provides information on different aspects of election and some knowledge and information about the techniques of voting. But it does not put national problematic debate in an analytical context and stimulate thinking on alternative world-view to democratic participation.

[The author is the head of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and a noted Nepali academician of international repute-Ed]

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (13 June 2007)


Civic and Voters Education for Women Multipliers <Top>

Chitwan, TGW Correspondent

Training of people in citizenship education illuminates the interplay between constitutional idealism and political realism. This sort of education provides the training a critical awareness, experts say.

In this context, the Tank Prasad Memorial Foundation (TPMF), Sahabhagi and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized two two-day training programs in series on “Initiatives for Democracy Building: Education about Voters and Civic Rights for Women” at Chitwan on May 30-31 and June 1-2 respectively.

Altogether 72 women representing political parties, civil societies, NGOs, indigenous, ethnic, Dalits, Madhesi groups and Muslim took part. Participants came from 10 districts—Darchula, Dailekh, Achham, Baglung, Rolpa, Chitwan, Kailali, Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi and Dhanusha districts. Participants were trained on various gender related issues to be addressed in the Constituent Assembly (CA).

Speaking at the meeting Dr. Meena Acharya, the noted Nepali scholar and pioneer on women’s education and movement, said that increasing women’s participation is a key to the success of CA elections and guaranteeing their constitutional and human rights. The more the women know their rights and duties and act as multipliers of the skills and knowledge the better civic competence they can impart on other sections of society.

Another speaker Kashi Raj Dahal, former law secretary, explained the nuts and bolts of CA, various types of election system, conditions for increased women’s participation, ownership in the constitution making process, need for capacity building of women, experience of other countries and the importance of CA for the Nepalese now.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES, Nepal office, explained various components of democracy, women’s position in various institutions of governance in Nepal and role of the state, political parties, market, civil society and international community for political empowerment of women. He underlined the need for social transformation in Nepal so that state, democracy and peace building exercises are owned by all the stakeholders of society including women. The weak nature of the state, fragmentation of politics and various levels of deadlocks and social movements of subsidiary identities have delayed the holding of CA.

Group presentation of reports by participants identified a host of issues to be included in the CA: lobby for the election of 33 percent of women in the CA, gender sensitization of political leaders on increased representation of women in political parties’ various committees, citizenship, compensation for conflict victim women, proportional access of women in all the institutions of governance and so many relevant issues.

On the occasion participants also discussed about two books—“Democracy” and “Handouts on Democracy” and the seminar papers of CA elections. They also identified a number of structural, ideological and cultural barriers, such as feudalism, patriarchy, unwritten transcript of society, discriminatory laws and practices to reverse the saying, “Slaughter a goat if a son is born but cut a pumpkin when a girl is born.”. These programs were supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (6 June 2007)


Voters' Education And Current State Of Affairs <Top>

By C. D. Bhatta

In this piece, I am putting down some of the empirical thoughts on the current state of affairs that came into limelight during the course of my field visits to different parts of the country as part of voters' education and civic rights programme. The programme was organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German think tank in Kathmandu, with the help of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Respect for others
The overarching aim of the voters' education programme was to train and educate the local people on contemporary political issues such as civic rights, democracy, constituent assembly (CA) election, current state of affairs and trickle down of knowledge to the grass root level. The central logic of this programme was to lay emphasis on the fact that democracy only works when it promotes local situations, local values based on social justice and solidarity, and there is a balance between two types of rules - written and unwritten - of society.

Equally important is the culture of respecting others (opposition parties) that play a great role in expanding the democratic sphere. It is because, in a democracy, every opposition of today moves into the helm of power tomorrow, and every party that is in power today might have to sit in the opposition bench tomorrow. This means democracy cannot be owned by a particular party for a long time but can only be rented for sometime.

Likewise, democracy is all about sharing the burden of each other, that is, those in a society having a broader shoulder have a responsibility to carry those who have smaller shoulders. Dev Raj Dahal, a noted political scientist, is of the view that the decision to hold the constituent assembly election in Nepal has made Nepalese politics open-ended. There is increased citizens' participation in state affairs, but the state has or is not in a position to develop its own capacity to guarantee participation.

Political power has been transformed from the king to the eight political parties, but within this 'power transformation', neither is there intergenerational justice nor is transformation felt by the citizenry at large. Today various types of transformations are taking place in the Nepali society. For example, transformation in discourse (loktantra vs. prajatantra, ganatantra vs inclusive democracy); transformation in the political parties, that is, the rise of ultra communists forces; transformation in the actors, that is, the rise of political leaders of various ideologies and suspension of the king; transformation in subjects, that is, from a unitary to a federal system of governance; and transformation in procedure, that is, promulgation of the interim constitution and initiative to hold the election to the Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution.

Having said this, however, there is no clear agenda before the state as to what type of state and system of governance we really want to have at the end of the day. We talk about 'state restructuring', but it is still not clear as how we want to go about and what type of restructuring would work best for us. Merely playing with words by producing various types of political terminologies without any scientific justification is creating more confusion than resolving problems.

Principally, the main purpose of the state is to protect the weak in a society from the strong and that of politics is to address underlying problems of the society by engaging people in the institutional life of the state. Moreover, the state has a duty to maintain public order in a society, and politics should bring about changes in a society. The main logic of democratic politics, therefore, is to initiate dialogue, search for a common agreement and provide alternatives (choices) so that diverse societal demands/interests could be met.

However, there is a deadlock in Nepali politics, which is apolitical. A great deal of conflict exists between the state and societal forces. The result of this conflict is that the parliament has been stalled for more than a month, interim constitution has been receiving the wrath of the opposition from different sections of society, and it had to be amended within 35 days of its promulgation. The amendment of the constitution on an installment basis does not necessarily herald a prosperous political future for the country.

We have signed a comprehensive peace accord, but conflict residues are still prevalent in society. Different types of societal groups are forming critical masses, and the state has not been able to play the role of 'state' due to which it is losing internal sovereignty to various non-state-actors. The best part of the April uprising was that the citizens have been given their rights, but there is no efficient mechanism to ensure these rights. In a sense, no attempt has been made to make the state machinery strong and prosperous so that they can meet the challenge generated by these rights.

This has resulted in the erosion in the capacity of the state in different arenas - erosion in policy (no sovereign policy), erosion in state authority (rise of the non-state actors), and increase in competitive violence (rule of might). Because of these factors, the state is not in a position to fulfil the main duties of the state - protect the weak, resolve conflicts, maintain sovereign policies, including foreign, and deliver public goods.

Harmony
Against this backdrop, the challenge for the Nepali state is how best to reconcile harmony between all the conflicting ideas, concepts, norms and values without undermining the spirit of the age. An attempt should move towards providing political legitimacy to the achievement of the people's movement and constitutional legitimacy to the interim constitution in order to move the political process ahead.

Source: The Rising Nepal (1 June 2007)


Educating voters on Democracy and civic rights <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER-
Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office organized a series of two-day training program on “Initiative for Democracy Building: Education about Voters and Civic Rights,” in Lalitpur (May 9-10), Pokhara (12-13 May), Palpa (May 15-16), Butwal (May 17-18) and Bhairahawa (17-18) where over five-hundred people actively participated in them. On these occasions FES also distributed a book on democracy and a handout on democracy.

Dr. Peter Hering, Advisor of Civic and Voters Education Program, highlighted the importance of balancing rights, responsibilities, rules to respect opposing legitimate views and reconciliation in society for democracy building. He said, “Voting is a voluntary participation and duty of people to actively participate in politics. The more they are informed about the system of elections and democratic principles the more they become the real stakeholders of decision-making on vital matters affecting their lives, liberties and property. He said Nepal should give first priority to address the root causes of conflict before taking any political initiative as he asserted violence and democracy building cannot go together. Quoting Willy Brandt he said, “Peace is not everything, but without peace everything is nothing.”

Dev Raj Dahal, head of Nepal office of FES said, “Democracy building in Nepal requires socialization, humanization and transformation of Nepalese people into citizens and then into a conscious public committed to create a civic political culture in the country. The critical masses of Nepalese society formed in every community are exerting pressures on the leadership to address the social revolts arising from unsatisfied re-distributional demands and expectations generated from party manifestoes, constitutions, media, international standards and exposure.” He added that without restoring the state’s capabilities to perform basic state functions it would be impossible to organize democracy, peace and development. Abolishing the state of nature is a precondition for civility and enabling people to exercise their constitutionally given rights and responsibilities including voting.

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal explaining the importance of constituent assembly elections in Nepal argued that if the transition process is prolonged it might pose a risk. He added that leadership has to transform its revolutionary legitimacy into a legal-rational legitimacy through the elections. And decision-making should be based on the rule of law and constitutional system rather than the consensus of eight-party alliance. Another speaker Chandra Dev Bhatta explained the key elements of democracy, such as rule of law, human rights, separation of powers, public sphere, independent judiciary, media, system of elections, political parties, civil society, good governance, local government, globalization and reconciliation and peace. The two-day seminars were participated by political leaders, government officials, media workers, civil society, representatives of social organizations and opinion makers. The program was supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While passing concluding remarks Dr. Hering said, “FES and German government do not intend to meddle in Nepal’s political affairs but would like to provide ideas and alternatives in support of Nepalese peoples quest for democracy.” He added, “Every country has its own model of democracy based on historical roots, ecology, institutions, social and economic values and needs of the people.

Source: People's Review (24-30 May 2007)


NEPAL: Initiative for Democracy Building <Top>

Former FES Chief highlights 4Rs significance
Kathmandu: The Kathmandu based Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office, organized a series of two-day training program on the topic of “Initiative for Democracy Building: Education about Voters and Civic Rights,” at Lalitpur (May 9-10), Pokhara (12-13 May), Palpa (May 15-16), Butwal (May 17-18) and Bhairahawa (17-18) respectively where over five-hundred people actively participated in the said seminar.

Dr. Peter Hering, Advisor of Civic and Voters Education program and former FES Nepal Office Chief, highlighted the importance of four “R” in democracy building—rights, responsibilities, rules to respect opposing legitimate views and reconciliation in society. Voting is a voluntary participation of people in politics. The more they are informed the more they become the real stakeholders of decision-making. He said that violence and democracy cannot go together. Quoting Willy Brandt he said, “Peace is not everything, but without peace everything is nothing.”

Dev Raj Dahal, head of Nepal office of FES said, “Democratic prospects in Nepal require the civil society groups, political parties, government and the state to become a true representative of the social classes and strata.” The state’s sovereignty and legitimacy are important in securing conformity and loyalty from its populace of various social origins and establish a balance in the ends and means of politics, media representations and civic and voters education. Now the need is restoring the state’s monopoly of power, revival of governance functions, fair CA elections and peace building activities. In the changed circumstances, a broad political consensus on the role of the state is important to begin the process of reconciliation and resolution of conflict residues and enable the citizens to participate, learn and discuss about their civic rights and responsibilities.

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal explaining the niceties of constituent assembly argued that if the transition process is prolonged it might pose a risk. He added that leadership has to transform its revolutionary legitimacy into a legal-rational legitimacy through the elections. And decision-making should be based on the rule of law and constitutional system rather than the consensus of eight-party alliance. Another speaker Chandra Dev Bhatta explained the key elements of democracy, such as rule of law, human rights, separation of powers, public sphere, independent judiciary, media, system of elections, political parties, civil society, globalization and reconciliation and peace. The two-day seminars were participated by political leaders, government officials, media workers, civil society, representatives of social organizations and opinion makers. The program was supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While making concluding statement Dr. Hering said, “FES and German government do not intend to meddle in Nepal’s political affairs but would like to provide ideas and alternatives in support of Nepalese people’s quest for democracy.”

Dr. Peter Herring served the FES Nepal Office for almost four years. In fact, during his tenure in Nepal, he gave a formal shape to the FES-the German Foundation.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (23 May 2007)


FES Meet On Voters And Civic Rights <Top>

By Bipin Jangam

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) a non profit German based organization organized a seminar at Lalitpur on
May 9-10 for the awareness of voters and civil rights before the constituent assembly elections is held here. As an initiative for democracy building through education of voters and civilian in the country, the FES also handed out books, a translation of "Introduction to Democratic Practice", originally written by Professor Dr. Thomas Myer of Political Science Department at the Dortmund University.

The objective of the program was to make aware the civilians about the infrastructure and various democratic practices worldwide; and its implementation on building infrastructure for democratic practice in Nepal.

Speaking on the occasion, country director for FES Nepal, Devraj Dahal focused on the implementation and generalizability of the program and the role of NGO's, professionals in the educational sector, intellectuals and the media. He also emphasized on the role of such professional sectors for creating awareness of the civilian and voters' rights and the knowledge about various democratic practices throughout the world and choosing one of them. However, he also pointed out that such choices should be suitable to Nepali social values and norms and be a rational choice.

The participants from the various organizations, and academic institutions thanked FES for addressing issues of building infrastructure of a new democratic foundation in Nepal.

Answering questions from the participants Dahal focused on the challenges to the government on a fair justice system and mediation as an alternative before going to the court on many legal issues. He also addressed the issue of compensation and organizational contract, participative decision making and problem solving from gender/minority and indigenous people, which is necessary for the equality and equity on division on labor to break the social status-quo and healthy leadership development. Dahal also highlighted the role of modern social science research methodology and empirical implementation of Training Needs Analysis.

Source: Tej Tara Weekly CHRONICLE (15 May 2007)


Building Peace <Top>

Civil society's role in peace building have not been adequately discussed in policy analysis in Nepal

Dev Raj Dahal

The imperative of peace in Nepal is competing with other claims, such as power, liberation, social justice, basic needs and identity of various political and social actors. Negotiation of these competitive claims into a legitimate social contract is a precondition to fulfill the ardent desire of public for peace in Nepal articulated through Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The central responsibility of Nepalese civil society groups lies in inspiring liberal norms in a highly conflict-prone politics and balance the need of the state for national security and societal needs for democracy. The moral consciousness of the government about its own power requires it to define practical measures for payoffs to all the citizens and enable conflict parties to seek common social, political, economic and cultural transformation for conflict management.

Civil society's roles in peace building have not been adequately discussed in policy analysis in Nepal. The scant attention is partly due to the perplexity associated with the nature and functions of civil society, partly due to overexcited hope attached to them by political leaders, mass media and rights-based NGOs considering that they alone are capable of resolving the entire problems of society and partly due to more aspiration and less outcome that civil society discourses have yielded to the Nepalese citizens. The notion of peace is bound up with an order based on mutually agreed principles for the behavior of all actors in their dealings with each other. In this order they can defend themselves and pursue their goals without having recourse to supremely vicious means - violence. Peace is a condition that frees life from the vale of fear, tear and terror and provides all a civilized coexistence.

Pitting democracy versus the state, human rights against security responsibilities, professionalism versus political alliance, tradition versus modernity, men versus women and one class, caste, ethnic group or race against the other will not resolve the conflict in Nepal. Attempts to project conflict in this light means that there are active interests to repress the public purpose. These are issues that need to be carefully worked out to resolve the condition of unstable power equation which has opened space for each actor to negotiate for absolute gain rather than relative advantage. Nepalese civil society cannot therefore remain satisfied with mere preaching of the politically correct word, but should engage itself constructively to follow it with the right deed so that the hiatus of almost a year long political transition is not allowed overtaking peace-building mission.

Peace building as a practical area involves a set of goals, policies and strategies which aim to prevent the occurrence of armed conflicts, avoid structural and direct violence and seeks to establish a legitimate political framework for all the stakeholders to peacefully participate in social, economic and political life of the nation. Creating a web of civic interests and procedures for peace building is certainly a prized goal to cope with a complex combination of sources of conflict- faith, reason, greed and needs deficits.

Peace building provides a keyhole for an analysis of the root causes of conflict in Nepal and an examination of the transformation of troublesome links between structural injustice and cycles of violence and counter violence setting a downward spiral of security, democratic and development processes. The responsibilities of civil society groups are growing with the ongoing violence in Nepal, which has transformed the functions of the state, market institutions, NGOs and international community and has entailed them to restart searching common ground for conflict mediation and peace at various levels of society. The CPA seeks to achieve conflict management through social, cultural, economic and political transformation in Nepal and promises to initiate restructuring of the state to resolve class, ethnic, regional and gender problems.

An underlying community of interests for peace building has to overcome the ongoing contests of women, Janajati, Dalit, Tharus and Madhesi groups for proportional voice, visibility, identity and outcome and combine common national action with respect to diverse approaches to the central problem of resolving the taproots of conflict. The implementation of practical measures, however, has become difficult in Nepal due to security vacuum and new conflict dynamics about Interim Constitution, representation in the Constituent Assembly and redesigning of the state. It is possible to establish stakeholders' solutions if each actor comes out of its institutional, ideological and personality frame, understands each other's concern, begins to communicate national purpose, recovers the equilibrium of state-society ties and offers peace building as a lasting security to all the citizens. Rebuilding the state is a precondition to any national initiative-security, CA elections and the compression of the anarchy of free wills.

It has become necessity for civil society to moderate the emerging habits of conflicts and keep it within the bound of legitimate constitutional order. Legitimate order means the leadership has to forget about muscular peace that resolves conflict by subduing opponents. Muscular peace did not prove feasible in the country as it fostered structural injustice. Power-equation based hegemonic peace too did not yield durability. It did not help the nation achieve structural stability of the polity, economy and society and, like in the past, is encountering multi-polar resistance. A democratic peace transcends power equilibrium and creates more winners than losers.

A "common development concept" articulated in the CPA is a necessary condition to avoid future conflict while sense of proportionality in power sharing can make the present conflict unnecessary and prepares common ground for CA elections. The level of social development of a state determines the efficacy of civil society to foster human aspirations of peacefulness. The public realm of civil society is embedded in the general life of people, where all members are attached to the same sovereignty. The realism of peace requires precise conviction, rather than ideologically and emotionally conditional stance, a conviction which remains unwavering even during shifting situation and competing actors realize the sterility of violent means. A correct disposition of human will by placing constitutional checks on power can entice contesting groups to shape a shared future.

Peace building requires abolishing the state of nature and acceptance of a common political community-the state. Essentially, peace building is rooted in the sense of peace community formation: in the appreciation of the preservation of human rights, in the high regard to promotion of human values and reciprocity which turn peace into a common good. An integrated strategy for conflict mitigation and post-conflict peace building and recovery helps to ensure predictable financing for early recovery activities. Sustained financial investment over the medium- to longer-term and extended period of attention by the international community to conflict and post-conflict recovery require the adoption of best practices on issues that require extensive collaboration among political parties, law and order agencies, civil society and development actors. A stable peace rests on collaborative efforts of entire stakeholders.

Source: Newsfront, 26 Mar-1 Apr 2007


Impartial CA polls urged <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER

Participants at a workshop on "Democracy and Peace Building in Nepal" organised by Nepal Society for Peace Building (NESOP) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on Sunday discussed the post conflict situation, eight party efforts for peace building process and challenges in Nepal.

Prabal Raj Pokhrel, president, NESOP, presenting his paper entitled "Conflict Dynamics to Peace Building in Nepal: A Systematic Communication Approach", illustrated different examples of post-conflict situation in different countries in the world and urged for responsible performance of the protagonist forces in conflict for a lasting peace and democratic practice.

"Only well connected coordinated action plan that formulates a common policy that can craft a mutually acceptable programme of action for all the protagonist forces will ensure sustainable peace," stated Pokhrel in his paper.

Surya Kanta Poudel presented his paper entitled "Constituent Assembly: Management and Challenges". He illustrated examples of different countries and their success and failure while drafting a constitution through a constituent assembly. A clear cut vision is essential prior to going for a CA polls otherwise the result may be complicated, he remarked.

Likewise, conflict expert Dr Chuda Bahadur Shrestha presented his paper on "Election Procedures in Post Armed Conflict Situation".

He suggested for independence and impartiality; efficiency; professionalism; impartial and speedy adjudication and transparency for a successful and acceptable outcome in CA polls.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES Nepal chief, expressed the view that for a lasting peace and sustainable democracy, it requires systematic approach that links all actors – casts, ethnicity, religion and region – rather than its instrumentalization in search of the stability of the wholeness."

No political system can survive unless all actors, even a small minority, feel a real stake in it, Dahal said.

Bhim Rawal, UML leader, who chaired the function, observed that lack of commitment even after signing the peace accord by the political parties was not a good political practice.

The workshop was well participated by conflict experts and media persons.

Source: People's Review (8-14 March 2007)


Collective Effort is needed for Conflict Resolution <Top>

Kathmandu March 5:
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Nepal Society of Peace Building (NESOP) jointly organized a one-day seminar on "Democracy and Peace Building in Nepal". The workshop laid stress on the fact that to achieve long-term solution of conflict and peace there is a need to go deep into the problem. The participants in the seminar viewed that to organize constituent Assembly elections in free and fair manner all the stakeholders should be active. The action to demonstrate arms and procrastination of elections have to cease conflict expert Dr. Bishnu Raj Uprety argued that since the arms and armies of CPN Maoist have been placed in the cantonment, all the members of civil society, government, Maoist and the local people should investigate those arms laying outside and try to destroy them.

The director of Nepal office of FES, Dev Raj Dahal argued that suitable methods have to be invented by political leadership to resolve all types of conflict and save the nation from darkness and division. The CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal said that the comprehensive Peace Agreement has to be sincerely implemented. Maoists have to be honest in this regard.

Conflict expert, journalists, political scientists, lawyers and others were the participants. Prabal Raj Pokharel, Surya Kant Paudel and Dr. Chuda B. Shrestha presented separate papers on democracy, conflict resolution and peace.

Source: Gorkhapatra (06 March 2007)


Implementation of peace agreement stressed <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, March 4: Speakers at a workshop underscored the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the Maoists to build confidence amongst the people for free and fair elections of the constituent assembly within June.

Speaking at the workshop on 'Democracy and Peace Building in Nepal' organised jointly by Nepal Society for Peace Building (NESOP) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), former minister and leader of the CPN-UML Bhim Rawal said that changing stances and showing a lack of commitment to implement the agreements after signing them was not a good political practice.

Rawal highlighted the need of an integrated approach to achieve the desired goals. "Otherwise we may be diverted from our goals."

Head of the FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said, "It requires a systemic approach, that links all actors? caste, ethnicity, religion and region, rather than its instrumentalization, in search of the stability of the wholeness."

No political system can survive unless all actors, even a small minority, feel a real stake in it, Dahal added.

NESOP president Prabal Raj Pokhrel, general secretary Surya Kanta Paudel and conflict expert Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha presented working papers on the topic.

More than 40 persons representing the civil society and media participated in the one-day workshop.

Source: The Rising Nepal (05 March 2007)


Empathy a must for reconciliation <Top>

POST REPORT


KATHMANDU, March 4 - It is a must to understand each other's positions through empathy for sustainable peace and reconciliation than blaming one another, speakers said here Sunday.

Speaking at a workshop on "Democracy and peace building in Nepal" organized by Friedrich - Ebert - Stiftung (FES) and Nepal Society for Peace Building (NESOP), Prabal Raj Pokhrel, president of NESOP said that sharing of guilt for wrong doing, by the parties involved, is a must as the primary step for reconciliation.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES, Nepal said that many of the social classes like women, youth, Dalits, Janajatis and indigenous people which so far peacefully co-existed in the state have harbored counter-knowledge against conventional discourse. "The issues these social classes have laid out cannot be resolved by either escapism, or even announcing tantalizing concessions before negotiations to outmaneuver them. This, in effect, would tend to produce a deadlock of indefinite duration," he said.

The ability of political systems must be enhanced to provide civic education to diverse people so as to transform them into equal citizens and muster their compliance on governance.

Dr Chuda Bahadur Shrestha and Surya Kant Poudel also presented papers on the occasion.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (05 March 2007)

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