UNMIN stresses on impartial law enforcement
Ian Martin, chief of United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), has expressed his view about the ongoing preparations for the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls slated for April 10 and stated his concern to establish impartial law enforcement across the country. He also suggested six high priority areas for the credibility of the CA polls, reiterated UN’s commitment to ‘assist’ the country in creating a favourable environment for the polls and expressed his support for economic and social change for a democratic transition of Nepal.UNMIN chief Martin in a statement at the Nepal Donor Consultation Meeting at the Ministry of Finance Thursday expressed concern of the international community for the success of the ongoing peace process.
“On each occasion when I go to United Nations Headquarters to report to the Security Council on the progress of Nepal’s peace process and the support to it of the UN, I am reminded what a strong and unanimous consensus there is within the international community wanting to see this peace process succeed,” he said, “It’s not a secret that in some conflict and post-conflict situations the international community itself is divided, but Nepal only has friends, and its friends are united in support of its transition. The world was deeply impressed with the speed with which a Nepalese peace process, a process not mediated by any third party, moved forward in 2006 to end a ten-year armed conflict: the international community wanted, and wants, to support it to the utmost.”
However, he also stated the reasons for the current conflict in view between the ruling parties, concerns over the impartial enforcement of law across the country and the challenge of transforming an armed movement into a political one.
Martin said, “No peace process has ever moved forward smoothly without setbacks, and it would have been naïve in the extreme to expect that this could be the case in Nepal. In the discussions which led to the 23-point agreement the parties were frank in acknowledging weaknesses of implementation. Deadlines set within the process were often unrealistic, and failures to fulfill commitments opened up mistrust between parties. It has not been easy for a coalition government to take decisions with consensus across seven parties. A formula has not been found for agreement on re-establishing multiparty local government bodies.”
“It is a major challenge to establish impartial law enforcement across a country which has been torn by conflict. An armed movement is not instantly transformed into a political party operating according to the norms of a democratic multi-party framework. And one of the most difficult issues at the end of any armed conflict is how to reach and implement decisions about the future of the combatants,” he added.
“And as if those challenges were not daunting enough, Nepal’s peace process has faced the further challenge of the demand of traditionally marginalised groups that long-standing discrimination should be urgently addressed, and in particular that they must be fairly represented in the Constituent Assembly which is to shape the future of this highly diverse country, as well as to provide the basis for a government with the broad legitimacy necessary to address the challenges of peace and development,” said Martin stressing the need for the fair inclusion of marginalised groups in the CA polls.
Stressing on the need of social change to go along with political transformation, he said “When these political challenges have presented so many issues requiring short-term management, it is also not easy to maintain the focus on issues of poverty, of service delivery and of long-term development. These are not UNMIN’s mandate, but they are very much the concern of the UN system as a whole, and I echo all that has been said about the integral relationship between peace and development. Attention to development is part of the peace process. A central commitment of the Comprehensive Peace Accord is to adopt a ‘common development concept for economic and social transformation and justice’, as well as to carry out an inclusive democratic and progressive restructuring of the state to address discrimination against marginalized groups.”
He also reiterated UN’s police to only ‘assist’ Nepal in establishing a democratic framework in the country. “The core commitment of the peace process is to provide a democratic framework to address these issues through the election of an inclusive Constituent Assembly, and the core role requested of the United Nations is to ‘assist’ in creating a free, fair climate for that election. I stress the word ‘assist’, because like everything else in this process success depends on the Nepalese actors themselves, and we are at a critical moment, with the lists of candidates filed yesterday at the same time as important negotiations with Madhesi parties are continuing, and the situation in many parts of the Terai is extremely tense.,” said the UNMIN chief during the meeting.
He also suggested six areas of high priority for the credibility of the upcoming CA polls.
He stressed on the need of a conclusive talks with the agitating Madhesi parties and the need for persuasion of other marginalised groups to go forward with the polls for their concerns to be addressed.
“First, we all hope that the current dialogue with Madhesi parties is successful today or in the very near future, but even if it is, this will by no means be the end of the need for dialogue with marginalized groups, to persuade them despite their reservations that this Constituent Assembly election should go forward and can provide the framework for their concerns to be addressed,” said Martin.
Expressing the dire need for all political parties to respect each other’s election campaigns, he said, “Second, all the parties that are to contest the election should recommit themselves to respect each other’s right to campaign wherever they choose, observing fully this commitment made in successive agreements and required by the Election Code of Conduct. This can be greatly assisted by independent monitoring, and I urge again the immediate implementation of the commitment to create an independent national monitoring body, which the United Nations will assist with its information. The government has invited international observers, including the United Nations Electoral Experts Monitoring Team appointed by the Secretary-General: all parties must understand that international observers will speak out against intimidation and irregularities.”
Martin also asked the Seven Party Alliance to work collectively at the national and local level for the management of the peace process. “Third, the Seven-Party Alliance must maintain collective management of the peace process, working together at national and local level, despite the strain which political competition will exert on their cooperation. They have already formed a High Level Coordination Committee for this purpose, and the Peace Commission is an important further commitment to such collective management. The formation of new peace process bodies is an opportunity for belated fulfillment of the commitment to include proper representation of women, as well as for a more effective partnership with civil society,” he said.
He pointed out the need for responsible implementation of the commitments to the combatants in the meeting.
Martin said, “Fourth, the commitments in relation to combatants must be implemented responsibly. The United Nations has long been making preparations to assist with the discharge of minors and others disqualified by UNMIN’s verification: we urgently need a framework of practical cooperation with the government and the Maoist army for this to be implemented effectively. It is a fundamental commitment that began with the 12-point Understanding that the two armies must stay out of the electoral process, and UNMIN’s arms monitoring will seek to ensure this. But those who remain in the cantonments must see that their future is being considered in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Accord commitments to a special committee for this purpose, recently reconstituted, and to an action plan for democratization of the Nepalese Army.”
Martin said that the fate of the victims of the decade long armed conflict should be publicised.
“Fifth, victims of the armed conflict must not be forgotten amid the electoral preparations, whether they are families whose loved ones were killed or disappeared, or displaced persons whose property should be returned. I believe that development partners are willing to help fulfill commitments to compensation, but victims require not only compensation but truth about the fate of their loved ones. And justice for violations of human rights is not only a need of victims, but also of a society which needs to assure future security by ending impunity,’ said the UNMIN chief.
Lastly, martin pointed out the need for public security, not only for the CA polls, but also in the daily lives of the general public.
“Sixth, public security is essential not just for a credible election, but for the people of Nepal to carry on their daily lives and build a better future for themselves and their children. This requires effective policing, but it is not a task for police alone: it requires cooperation of all democratic forces at the local level, supporting and not impeding impartial law enforcement as well as promoting service delivery,” he said.
Martin also said that the UN would refrain form assisting a future imposed by undemocratic means and was just ‘assisting’ in the runup to the polls so that it could be conducted in a fair manner. He expressed his support for the Comprehensive Peace accord and a democratic transition to economic and social change in an inclusive Nepal.