Report of the National Seminar on Multitrack
Approaches to Peacebuilding in Nepal
Organized by Centre for Economic and Technical
18 & 19 November 2010, Lalitpur
With the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) between the Government of Nepal (GON) and the UCPN (Maoist)
on 21 November 2006, the decade-long conflict beginning from
1996 largely ceased to exist. Yet conflict is not all over,
though in the subsequent period the Constituent Assembly election
was successfully conducted, monarchial institution was abolished
and the elected representatives in the Constituent Assembly
formed their governments - first under the leadership of UCPN
(Maoist) and then under the leadership of CPN-UML.
In the post-conflict period, a number of armed
groups have been formed in the Terai (plain) region of Nepal.
They have been creating law and order problem. Initially, the
number of such groups could be counted on the fingers. Now their
number has reached 109 or so. Some of those groups operate with
political motive. But many others have been working as criminal
gangs. They have been largely involved in killings, forced donations,
and abductions. As a result, economic and social activities
in the region have largely been affected. In view of this scenario,
the national seminar on "Multi-track Approaches to Peacebuilding
in Nepal" was organized on 18 and 19 November 2010 in Lalitpur,
Kathmandu with a view to enabling the government, political
parties, civil society groups and other stakeholders to find
out proper ways and means to restore peace and promote development
activities in Nepal.
Objectives of the Seminar
The basic objective of the seminar was support
peacebuilding initiatives in Nepal. Specific objectives of the
seminar were to:
- Discuss the pathways to peace;
- Present the economics of peace in context
- Discuss state building as a mechanism of
- Present state and civil society relation
for conflict resolution;
- Review the changing dynamics of conflict
and peace; and
- Discuss conflicting interests in constitution
The two-day seminar was organized on 18 &
19 November, 2010 at the prestigious institution - Nepal Administrative
Staff College, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, Kathmandu. Major participants
of the seminar comprised of academicians, political activists,
journalists, indigenous communities and women from Madhesh and
different other parts of Nepal. The media that covered the news
of the seminar included Headlines & Music FM 97.2 Mhz, the
Telegraph Weekly, Bishweep and Vishleshan.
The Inaugural function of the two-day seminar
on "Multi-track Approaches to Peacebuilding in Nepal"
started in the morning at 9:00 A.M. on 18 November 2010. Hari
Bansh Jha, Executive Director of CETS presided over the function.
Nepal's Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Rakam Chemjong
was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
In his welcome address, Dev Raj Dahal, Representative, FES Nepal
Office welcomed the guests and participants of the seminar.
He said that the establishment of rule of law is a major problem
amidst the environment of uncertainty, human rights violations
and impunity in the country. It is, therefore, essential that
the inter-institutional social capital is strengthened in order
to build the capacity of state and engage different tracks of
actors in conflict mediation and peacebuilding efforts in the
Speaking on the occasion, Pushpa Thakur, Central
Member of Terai Madhesh Democratic Party said that the government
and other stakeholders should implement all the agreements and
understandings reached between the government and different
political groups. She felt that the violence or threat to violence
will continue so long as certain groups have arms and ammunitions
in their possession.
Daman Nath Dhungana, Former Speaker of the
House of Representatives, stated that the political approach
and the civil society approach failed in Nepal. Hence, there
has been no progress towards the implementation of understanding
and agreements reached between the government and the different
political forces. The civil society could have played certain
role in pressurizing the two sides to fulfill their commitments,
but very little progress was made in this direction. Virtually,
the domestic mediators failed to create congenial environment
for peace in the country. As such, foreign role has become inevitable
in settling conflict in Nepal. He wanted India to come forward
and take the responsibility for peacebuilding in Nepal.
In her Keynote address, Tone Bleie, Academic
Director, Centre for Peace Studies, University of Tromsa stated
that civilian supremacy, human security and rule of law are
essential component for peace. The United Nations should not
overtake national actors. It should rather support them. In
this respect, jobs could be created for many of youth migrating
to foreign countries through the development of various infrastructural
facilities. Those who are impaired and victims of conflict need
to be given due support. The artists, writers and other creative
forces should come forward and play constructive role in peacebuilding
efforts in the country.
In his inaugural address, Rakam Chemjong,
Minister for Peace and Reconstruction stated that the political
forces have not yet gone beyond the norms of Comprehensive Peace
Accord. Of course, they are slow in their approach. But then
they still sit together. Efforts have been made to narrow the
level of disagreements on certain political issues. Besides,
there is also a growing understanding among the political parties
in regard to integration of the Maoist combatants in Nepalese
army. In future, there can be no peace by excluding the Madhesh
based political parties, the Dalits and other backward groups
in the society. The civil society could play a vital role in
peacebuilding in Nepal.
Finally, Hari Bansh Jha, Executive Director
of Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) and co-ordinator
of the seminar said that tremendous development has been made
in the post-World War II period in science, technology and other
fields. All this was possible in the environment of peace. People
moved to moon and then to mars. Internet and facebook have been
making social change. Countries engulfed by conflict and wars
have learned to live in peace. As such, they have now been focusing
on development - be it in Africa, Latin America or Asia. As
other countries, Nepal should create proper environment for
peace in order to promote economic, social and political growth
of the country.
Altogether six papers were presented in different
sessions in the two-day seminar. The paper writers presented
their papers; while the participants made comments, observations
and suggestions on the main theme of the papers in free, frank
and fearless manner without any prejudice.
The first session of the seminar started in
the morning at 11 A.M. on 18 November 2010. Hari Bansh Jha made
his presentation on "Economics of Peace: The Nepalese Context."
Anand Aditya, Chairman, Pragya Foundation presided over this
In his paper, Hari Bansh Jha said that peace
was inseparable to economic growth. Peace has a great monetary
value. It has multiplier effects on the growth of different
sectors of the economy including on agricultural, trade and
service sectors. Peace alone can ensure the protection of land
and building and the growth of human and physical resources
such as health, education, roads, electricity and communications.
Economic stability, investment and capital flows are all possible
when there is peace. Democracy and inclusive growth in addition
to different drivers of peace are most essential for establishing
peace. Lasting peace in the country is possible only when there
is proper redistribution of wealth. There was a set back in
all these areas during the period of conflict (1996-2006) in
Nepal. Now in order to improve the situation and restore peace
in long run, it is essential that funds meant for military expenditure
is diverted to economic activities, investment is diverted to
enterprises that promote peace, Peace Mediation Institute is
developed and the culture of peace and spiritual growth is promoted
at all the levels in the country.
Commenting on the paper, Pushpa Thakur said
that no political patronage should be given to the elements
indulging in criminal activities. Ganga Prasad Akela wanted
that the paper should highlight on the role of King Janak of
Mithila and also of Sita who made significant contribution for
peace and meditation.
Tone Bleie observed that the indirect costs of conflict were
most severe in nature. She wanted that the Centre for Peace
mediation could be established in Nepal as Buddha widely known
in the world as symbol of non-violence and peace was born in
Binita Yadav supported the spirit of the paper
for its focus on peace at heart, family and the nation. She
wanted peace message to be carried to the villages and schools
so that the children and common mass of the population are benefited.
Prem Singh Basnet and Narayan Prasad Mishra also made useful
observations on the paper.
Hari Bansh Jha answered all the questions
raised from the floor. In his remarks as chairperson of the
session, Anand Aditya made some observations for further improvement
of the paper.
Lal Babu Yadav, Associate Professor of Political
Science, Tribhuvan University made his presentation on "Inclusive
Democracy and Conflict Resolution in Nepal" in the second
session of the seminar. The session was co-chaired by Birendra
Prasad Mishra and K.D. Mishra, the two eminent scholars.
In his paper, Lal Babu Yadav stated that social
inclusion provides a means to reduce alienation, exclusion and
violence. The distribution of power among different groups of
people was a major tool for conflict resolution. The political
parties should demonstrate democratic culture. Civic education
programmes should be widely launched throughout the length and
breadth of the country. Also, proper balance should be maintained
between legislative and executive bodies to enable the political
leadership to resolve conflicts.
During the floor discussion, Nageena Kumari
Jha observed that there is hardly any attempt made in Nepal
to build the capacity among different communities.
Manoj K Bachchan stated that the Constituent
Assembly should not be dictated by the political parties.
Narayan Prasad Mishra stated that only 'afantbad'
(one's own person) has thrived in the name of inclusion in the
Ram Gupta said that the foreign agencies including
the United Nations advocate for inclusion in Nepal, but in practice
do differently. Arjun Thapa also made useful comments on the
Lal Babu Yadav responded all the queries raised
from the floor. As co-chairperson, K.D. Mishra stated that in
Nepal people enjoy power, privilege and position by virtue of
certain ethnic factors. He also added that the political parties,
apart from the technocrats and bureaucrats are responsible for
enhancing conflict in Nepal. Another co-chairperson of the session,
Birendra Prasad Mishra maintained that instead of making effort
towards peacebuilding, the political parties are all engaged
in power capturing activities.
In the third session of the seminar, Prakash
A. Raj presented his paper on "Sustaining National Integration
during Peace Building in Nepal." Former Ambassador of Nepal,
M.P. Lohani presided over the session.
Prakash A. Raj stated that peace process promoted
both the integrative and disintegrative forces in the country.
While inclusivity aspect in political structure supported integrative
aspect; the effort to create federal states on the basis of
ethnicity might promote disintegrative forces. Such a move could
even promote ethnic cleansing of minority groups in due course
During the floor discussion, K.D. Mishra,
Narayan Prasad Mishra, Arjun Thapa, Ganga Prasad Akela, Sushil
Kant Jha and Lal Babu Yadav made some valuable comments and
suggestions on the paper. The author responded all the queries
from the floor. In his remarks as chairperson of the session,
M.P. Lohani made various useful ideas for promoting the process
of national integration in Nepal.
The fourth session of the seminar began at
9:00 A.M. on 19 November 2010. In the absence of Charles F.
Dambach, Keshab Chaulagain read his paper on "Building
Pathways to Peace." The session was presided over by Keshab
Raj Jha, Nepal's Former Ambassador.
Charles F. Dambach in his paper mentioned
that it was possible for individuals and citizen-based organizations
to build peace. All such factors as remaining on the side of
peace, listening to learn and understand, demonstrating respect,
building trust, and becoming patient and persistent are keys
to conflict resolution. Those skills and qualities are applicable
to any conflict mediation efforts, be it at family, work, community,
national or international levels. As conquest is rarely possible,
the main task for all concerned is to study war from the perspective
of preventing rather than winning it.
During the floor discussion, the participants
directly asked questions and made certain useful observations
on the paper, which Dambach heard in Washington, DC through
Commenting on Dambach's paper, Pushpa Thakur
observed that it was essential to remove distrust in politics
and at the same time resolve the mounting problem of unemployment,
poverty and inequality in order to re-establish peace in the
Nepalese society. Besides, the role of dharma (religion) could
also be considered as one of primary factors in reducing the
magnitude of violence in the society.
Other participants from the floor, included
Ganga Prasad Akela, Nageena Kumari Jha, Narayan Prasad Mishra,
Shanti Mishra, Mani Krishna Shrestha, Trilok Thapa, Binit Kumar
Jha and J.D. Khand who made important observations on the paper.
The author responded all the queries raised
from the floor satisfactorily. Keshab Raj Jha in his remarks
as chairperson of the session expressed satisfaction at the
way the author dealt with different pathways to peace. Besides,
he also thanked the participants for their active participation
in the session.
Shambhu Ram Simkhada made his presentation
on "State-Civil Society Role in Conflict Resolution"
in the fifth session of the seminar. Balanand Sharma, Lt-Gen
(Retd) presided over the session.
In his presentation, Shambhu Ram Simkhada
said that the successful People's Movement of 2006 brought Nepal
to a new threshold. It is necessary to institutionalize peace
and democracy through the meaningful conclusion of the peace
process, promulgation of the new Constitution, holding free
and fair election and handing over power to a new democratic
dispensation under the new constitution. In this context, too
much focus on politics of power and too little attention to
transformational politics can prove disastrous. All should understand
that at this juncture no one is above the law and that there
is no place for extremism and violence in the society. There
is no room for corruption and incompetence in high public office.
Also, there is no place for greed and excess in the free enterprise
as everyone should be accountable for one's actions. However,
there have been mismatch in the process of change. The Nepalese
state failed to implement Comprehensive Peace Accord. It was
before the Constituent Assembly election that the problems of
Maoist combatants needed to be resolved, which, however, was
not realized. Also, various commissions such as Truth and Reconciliation
Commission expected to wipe out the tears and heal the wounds
of the conflict affected people is yet to be realized. In such
a moment of despair, it is indeed a great challenge before the
state, civil society and all the friends of Nepal both within
and outside the country as to how to translate the aspirations
of the people into reality.
Responding from the floor, Shanti Mishra observed
that it was not known if at all the civil society made any meaningful
contribution in the post-conflict phase in Nepal.
K.D. Mishra observed that paper needed to
throw light on the traffic jams taking place in the country
at three levels i.e. political, civil society and bureaucracy,
but it has done little on this aspect. .
Keshab Prasad Chaulagain stated that the paper
is not complete as it has overlooked such aspects as religion
Prakash A. Raj observed that the threat to
peace in Nepal is a matter of major concern for India's security.
Narayan Prasad Mishra wanted to know if there
was any co-relation between the integration of Maoist army and
peace process in Nepal.
Pushpa Thakur wanted to know if there was
any rationale in integrating the Maoist combatants at a time
when they have expressed their solidarity with their mother
Ganga Prasad Akela expressed that the civil
society has not been able to make any headway in Nepal. Arjun
Thapa and Gambhir Bahadur Hada also made certain observations
on the paper.
The author responded all the queries raised
from the floor. In his remarks as chairperson of the session,
Balanand Sharma replied that the integration of Maoist combatants
into the Nepalese army is inevitable. The Nepalese army could
function even if certain number of Maoist combatants is integrated.
The law of the land would take care if someone goes out of the
way. Absence of the rule of law and corruption are two major
problems in Nepal. Unfortunately, the leaders are fighting for
master bed room when the country is on fire, he added.
In the sixth session of the seminar, Dinesh
Tripathi made his presentation on "Conflicting interest
and constitution making in Nepal." Noted constitutional
expert in Nepal, Surya Dhungel chaired the session.
While presenting his paper, Dinesh Tripathi
stated that Nepal is in the process of writing constitution.
It is the part of the peace process. It is a nation building
exercise. It is a document that the nation should own. However,
the constitution making process is facing a rough road in the
country. Every where there are risks and challenges despite
the fact that the duration of Constituent Assembly was extended
by a year. There is a widening gulf among the political actors
on the major issues of the constitution. The lack of management
of Maoist combatants is a major stumbling block in constitution
making process. The struggle for power among different political
parties has shadowed activities related to constitution making.
In such a moment of chaos, what is expected from the political
parties is that they should agree on the basic principles, values
and modalities of the new constitution without any further delay.
During the floor discussion, Dev Raj Dahal
suggested that the paper needed to be systematized. In Nepal,
the deadlock in politics is the result of not only the inter-party
conflict, but more so due to the conflict among the different
groups within all the major political parties. There is little
scope of communication and dialogue among different groups in
the political parties. Besides, the political parties have no
Ram Dayal Rakesh observed that there is no
social inclusion in Nepal. Nageena Kumari Jha and Prasis Mahara
also made some important observations on the paper.
Responding the questions raised from the floor,
Dinesh Tripathi stated that democracy is not the system in which
the leaders automatically take the lead. It is the job of the
civil society to exert pressure on them for this, but nothing
concrete could develop on this front. Unfortunately, politics
is based on ethnic factors. There is a greater need of vibrating
civil society so that it could enable the government and political
forces both to meet people's aspirations.
In his remarks as chairperson of the session,
Surya Dhungel observed that constitution making would not be
possible until politics in the country is put on right track.
The possibility of another conflict is imminent in case the
process of integration of Maoist combatants in regular army
is not materialized. Therefore, priority needs to be given to
integration issue in Nepal.
Finally, Hari Bansh Jha thanked all
those who contributed towards making the two-day seminar successful.
In this regard, he thanked Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for its
support to the seminar. He also thanked the paper writers, resource
persons and participants for their cooperation and active participation
in the deliberations of the seminar. He hoped that the outcome
of the seminar in the form of valuable ideas and suggestions
would help the government, political parties, civil society,
foreign agencies and above all the people of Nepal to move forward
towards conflict mediation and establishment of peace.