Supporting Nepal’s Peace Process: From Conflict to Constituent Assembly
Nepal’s political and civil society leaders are rightly credited with a remarkable nationally-owned peace process. From 2003 onwards, the United Nations began its support through a low-key good offices role to encourage an end to the armed conflict. In 2005, the UN role expanded with the establishment of a large human rights monitoring operation (OHCHR-Nepal), which sought to mitigate abuses on both sides of the war and to defend democratic rights as the people’s movement intensified. After the ceasefire, the first interim government and the Maoists asked the UN to monitor commitments regarding arms and armed personnel under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to assist in holding the election of a Constituent Assembly. To this end, the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was established in January 2007 by the UN Security Council. As consensus among the parties broke down after the Maoists’ electoral success, the UN role was drawn into increasing controversy, and today Nepal and the UN face a possible crisis around the imminent deadline for the new constitution. In his talk, Ian Martin will discuss the history of the UN involvement in Nepal’s peace process and offer some reflections on the difficult path that lies ahead. Ian Martin lived in Nepal from May 2005 to February 2009, working for the United Nations successively as Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for support to the peace process, and Special Representative of the Secretary- General and Head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). His other UN appointments include Head of the Headquarters Board of Inquiry into certain incidents in the Gaza Strip (February-April 2009), Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste (2006), Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the East Timor Popular Consultation (1999), Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary- General in the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (2000-01), Special Adviser to the High Commissioner for Human Rights (1998), Chief of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (1995-96) and Director for Human Rights of the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (1993 and 1994-95). He was Deputy High Representative for Human Rights in the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998-99). He was Secretary General of Amnesty International (1986-92) and Vice President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (2002-05). His writings include Self-Determination in East Timor: the United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention.
The Britain-Nepal Academic Council was established on 23 May 2000 at a large meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London of British academics and researchers interested in various aspects of Nepal.