At a glance
Since 2005, we have provided strategic support to the Nepali peace process through analysis, conceptual advice and capacity-building workshops for a range of local governmental and non-governmental actors. Our services were initially requested by the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Maoist Communist Party of Nepal (CPN/M) took up arms against the monarchy in 1996, initiating Nepal’s most recent civil war. The conflict was rooted in criticism of feudal power structures and high levels of social and economic inequality. It was further catalysed by growing frustrations within large parts of the Nepali population about the gradual decline of the democratic opening of the 1990s, which had replaced the former Palace dominated panchayat system with a constitutional system. As the initial democratic space shrunk, the gulf between the monarchy and the main political parties widened considerably. In 2002, the conflict became tripolar when King Gyanendra Shah dissolved the parliament on the grounds that it was incapable of handling the Maoist insurgency.
Between April 2003 and August 2003, three rounds of peace negotiations took place between the government and the CPN/M: all failed.
Importantly, however, the Maoists had declared in May 2005 that they would accept competitive multi-party democracy. In 2004 and 2005, the conflict escalated further not only militarily between the Palace and the Maoists but also politically between the Palace and the main political parties (who formed a Seven Party Alliance (SPA)). In November 2005, the SPA and the CPN/M agreed in New Delhi on a twelve-point understanding as a joint platform for restoring democracy.
General strikes and mass uprisings in April 2006 forced the King to reinstate parliament and hand over powers to the new Prime Minister Koirala from the National Congress Party. These events paved the way for peace negotiations between the Maoist and the SPA. The negotiations lasted for six months and, in November 2006, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed.
The negotiations and the post-agreement phase were fraught with difficulty characterized by mutually opposing views by the political parties on some key issues. The issues that repeatedly created a number of political deadlocks and blockades were especially those that were not tackled in detail in the CPA but were rather left for discussion in the newly formed Unity Government and the Constituent Assembly such as the fate of the monarchy, election laws and the proposed re-structuring of the state. At the same time, political and economic demands of ethnic minorities, especially from the Terai region, mounted and escalated into violent conflict, which could only be contained by offering far-reaching regulations for the inclusion of (ethnic) minorities into the Constituent Assembly.
In April 2008, the Constituent Assembly elections were held, with the Maoists winning the largest number of seats: around 40 per cent. As a result, Prachanda, the Maoist leader, was sworn in as new Prime Minster. One month later, the Constituent Assembly decided to abolish the monarchy and thus Nepal would become a federal democratic republic.
Currently, Nepal is still facing serious challenges in its transformation process from civil war to peace. The primary issue is the integration of Maoist fighters of the People’s Liberation Army into the Nepali Army. The political deadlock caused the Maoist Government to step down in May 2009 and continues to be unresolved. Due to the failure to resolve this, the governing coalition remains very fragile with political tensions increasing accordingly.Top
Starting in 2005, we provided in-depth analyses of the Nepali conflict system and opportunities for conflict transformation. Through studies and reflection papers, we have aimed to provide strategic and complementary contributions to the Nepali peace process:
- On request of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we conducted a systemic conflict analysis in 2005 focusing on opportunities to support the peace process in Nepal.
- From 2006 to 2008, we provided coaching and advice to the Swiss Special Adviser for Peacebuilding in Nepal.
- At the request of the Nepali Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction in 2007, who asked for comments and advice on their local peace committees strategy, we conducted a study on traditional approaches to conflict transformation in Nepal (in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation).
- Since 2006, we have been jointly engaged with the CPN/M in order to reflect on their most recent transition processes within the framework of our Resistance and Liberation Movements in Transition Programme. In partnership with BCR, we organised a number of roundtable meetings where these experiences were shared with other movements in transition.
As part of our strategic partnership with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, we also supported the Swiss Special Adviser for Peacebuilding in Nepal through the co-facilitation of two workshops:
- In 2006, we co-facilitated a three-day workshop for Nepali women activists and representatives of women organisations on peacebuilding and negotiations skills.
- In 2007, BPS co-organised and co-facilitated a one-week seminar on federalism in Switzerland for 25 Nepali experts representing different political, ethnic, regional groups and casts.
In order to generate further options for the most contentious issues related to the implementation of the peace agreement, we organised opportunities for exchanging lessons and experiences from other countries, both of which were in partnership with BCR:
- In 2008, we organised a roundtable meeting on negotiations with participation from CPN/M, which also focused on negotiations related to the implementation of agreements.
- In December 2008, at the request of the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction and the International Secretariat of the CPN/M, we organised a study trip for a group of high-ranking South African military officers (including a former chief of staff) to share lessons learned with Nepali actors (including the Nepali Army) from the South African experiences concerning military integration.
|The Relevance of Local Conflict Resolution Mechanisms for Systemic Conflict Transformation in Nepal||Nepal||Dahal, Dev Raj; Bhatta, Chandra Dev||2008|
|Exploring South African experience with post-war military integration - A peer-advice seminar in Nepal||Nepal||Berghof Foundation for Peace Support||2009|
|Nepal - Supporting Peace Processes Through a Systemic Approach||Nepal||Dahal, Dev Raj||2005|