Post-Conflict Peace-Building in Nepal: A Perspective from Civil Society

The Nepalese civil society groups are enlarging the domain of public sphere to overcome democratic deficit, socially and ecologically unsuitable development and bitterly cleaved politics which has become a major challenge for peace-building. Modernization of the infrastructure of democracy, such as the state, political parties, NGOs, CBOs, public interest groups and the agencies of socialization, is a precondition to democracy consolidation and developing their compliance to democratic peace. Accountability of governance to the public and push for conflict-sensitive concrete programs requires civil society to work for conflict mediation as well as post-conflict reconstruction, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence along with the state, private sectors and international community. A robust interface between the state and institutions of civil society is essential to enable their efficacy in the realization of the vision of peaceful society that is both just and legitimate. Similarly, broadening awareness of the citizens about the changing nature of the national and local environment for all the actors, their interest positioning and shift from hostile position to identifying enlightened interests for shared gains is essential for a durable peace.
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"Human beings don't see the whole world; they see the little part of it they live in, and they are capable of making up all sorts of rationalizations about that part of the world, mostly in the direction of aggrandizing its importance."- Herbert Simon

Peace researchers believe that the use of human reason, basic needs fulfillment and functioning democracy can build the architecture of peace — the highest public good. The maximum distribution of this good in society is consistent with physical survival and moral aspirations of human beings. The ritual invocation of the reason, however, fosters "instrumental rationality" which is insufficient to achieve the cosmology of peace as it lays the primacy of disciplinary experts over contextual experience of people. Peace building treats human beings as an end in themselves, not reduced to mere means. The capacity of human being to use "reason" to resolve entire social problems, therefore, continues to encounter renewed failures. Finding the limits of reason, Herbert Simon argues that human beings' judgment is governed by "bounded rationality" (1983 p19). By implication, they cannot capture the entire dynamics of conflict and peace unless knowledge is inter-subjectively mediated, contextually and systematically rooted into the organic unity of all forces. This is equally true to Nepal's "Comprehensive Peace Agreement" (CPA) of November 21, 2006, signed by the government and CPN (Maoist) to end a decade-long violent conflict. Peace agreement, without enforcing capacity of institutions, are but words, and of no strength to rebuild societies and maintain a lasting peace (Paffenholz and Reychler, 2007 p7).

The CPA promises "positive peace" by resolving all "existing class, ethnic, regional and gender problems," through the "restructuring of Nepali state," guarantee of human rights and democracy, normalization of relations, "inclusive social transformation" and implementation of a "common development concept." Rebuilding shattered societies requires broad knowledge anchored by emotional intelligence, rationalist thought and spiritual feelings so that pre-civilized form of violent conflict stoked by egoistic human nature can be brought to civilized form of cooperation and competition within the limits of sovereign state (Spurk, 2010 p14). The global economic crisis has given the Nepali state an opportunity to combine regulative and redistributive roles as well as seek the synergy of the actors of governance to cope with state-centric and post-state challenges (Shrestha and Dahal, 2008 p11-81).

Now, the scale of violence in Nepal is down, but it has not disappeared. Conflict continues to affect the life of Nepalese horizontally and across various generations vertically as political power remains unmediated by constitutional relations, elections and public opinion. Only a unified sovereign state can compress the anarchy of free will and bring various groups' political participation within the bounds of the constitution, parliament and political parties. The unbounded passion of fractious leadership for new power struggle has infected the reconciliation policy and fragile peace. The Constituent Assembly (CA) election of April 10, 2008 has further reinforced this tendency as it has transformed the state-centric conflict into society-centric and shifted the rules of the game from consensus to competition with the change in electoral weight. This has created a new bargaining environment beyond the mandate of CPA. The dilemma of promulgation of the new constitution before or after the integration of Maoist combatants and multitude of unresolved issues are hampering the constitution drafting process by 601-member elected CA and constraining the country's political transition to "democratic peace" (Rawls, 2002 p48-51).

Deep fault-line conflicts persist between the 22-party ruling coalition and a myriad of opposition forces demanding national unity government. Without the state's legitimate monopoly on power and optimization of interest of political actors in the political system, it would be difficult to overcome systemic crisis and define the coherence of good governance. The future of peace in Nepal largely rests on the talent, maturity and willingness of leaders to shelve their private ambition for common good and embellish the virtue of peaceful compromise—the ideal course of democracy embedded in "golden mean." Transformative peace building contributes to the growth of transformative leadership, not the one in Nepal which is transactional and consequently, incapable of mustering support from the various types of oppositional groups for peace building measures. This paper narrates conceptual ambiguities associated with the CPA, peace building approaches, policy linkages, Nepalese civil society groups’ efforts, obstacles to peace building and draws a conclusion.

Resolution of Conceptual Ambiguities

The CPA bears many conceptual ambiguities which have become a source of discord among political parties. The survival-oriented government lacks necessary political will, requisite institutional capacity and economic progress to shore up the dynamic of national integrity system. The dilemma between conflict management and conflict resolution (also transformation), dissolution of feudal land system versus recognition to property rights, provision of social security versus weak tax base of the state to subsidize welfare benefits, commitment to universal values of democracy versus old political culture of patronage, rights-based discourse on democratization versus increasing militarization of society, constitutionalism versus popular sovereignty, realistic policies versus populist trap etc exposes the obvious gaps between promise and practice of Nepalese political leadership. Contesting position of political parties on many critical issues, such as rehabilitation and adjustment of 19,602 UN-verified and monitored Maoist combatants, nature and number of federal states, form of governance, independent judiciary, economy, foreign policy, management of conflict residues, disappeared persons, etc has made negotiation positional than accommodative. The establishment of broadly representative nature of CA and the discharge of 4,008 disqualified Maoist combatants offer a glimmer of hope. Still, the state's response to proliferating non-state armed actors, ethnic armies, militant youth wings of various political parties and identity-based social movements is highly skewed, not systemic. As a result, deadlock in the centre and high dynamics at the periphery continue to serve as bottlenecks to focus on long-term vision of peace, constitutional state, good governance and an early recovery from human recession.

Peace buildingiii as a practical area involves the creation of a set of realistic goals, policies and strategies which aim to prevent the occurrence of armed conflicts, avoid structural and direct violence and seek to establish a legitimate framework for all the stakeholders to peacefully participate in social, economic and political life of the nation. Creating a network of civic interests and procedures for peace building is a key to cope with a complex combination of sources of conflict—creed, needs deficit, greed and identity-craze. Peace building also offers a vantage point for an analysis of the root causes of conflict, an examination of the transformation of troublesome links between structural injustice and cycles of violence and counter violence setting a downward spiral of democratic and development processes.

The responsibilities of state officials and civil society are growing with the ongoing violence in Nepal, which has transformed the functions of the state, market institutions, civil society and international community and has entailed them to restart searching "common ground" defined by the CPA for conflict mediation and peace. Practical measures are needed to transform the taproots of conflict and establish stakeholders’ solutions so that peace building can become a common practice of all the drivers, actors and stakeholders of the conflict system. An underlying interest for peace building has to overcome the "subsidiary contests" among political and social groups and combine common national action with respect for multi-track approaches (Lederach, 1997 p44-52) to the solution of multi-layered conflicts—geopolitical, structural, manifest, perceptual and latent and overcome institutional paralysis due to prolonged political deadlock. Democracy offers political actors an opportunity to improve their condition but bars the damage one actor inflicts on its political rival. "For the goal of all forces is peace--the goal, but not the end, since it is by the goal that we must judge all individual uses of forces, applying Kant's dictum (in perpetual peace) that nothing should be allowed to happen in war that would make a subsequent peace impossible" (Arendt, 2005 p198).

Peace-building activities are not simply about peace-keeping by military force and enforcing peace (peace-making) but also rebuilding lives and societies shattered by deadly conflicts. It is also about managing the structural contradictions which are the sources of conflict formation and structural violence such as poverty, inequality, deprivation of the means of livelihoods and unremitting fear. Peace-building requires the formulation of rational steps towards positive transformation so that individuals and groups can address the crisis produced by protracted conflict, devise quick response mechanisms and initiate political reconciliation for a peace system. It is also about creating just relationship in societies willing to use non-violent means to settle disputes and conflicts.

Peace-building Approaches

The ancient Hindu scripture Veda eloquently articulates ahimsa parmodharma. The Gandhian doctrine of non-violence echoes this expression as a supreme source of human conduct (sanatan dharma) and the Kantian resonance of perpetual peace (Reiss, 2008 p116). Vedic scriptures sought continuous change of society and statecraft as per the spirit of yug dharma, the zeitgeist (Dahal, 2008 p156). Modern peace builders believe that timely change of the society makes conflict unnecessary, as change offers space for the circulation of each generation of people into institutional power and allows peaceful coexistence of diverse life-world. Gautam Buddha sought the harmony of ends and means of peace. He says, "Peace can be achieved only by peaceful means." He has de-legitimized violence as a tool of politics and systemically underlined the means of peace through the nirvana (enlightenment) of human being, social development, cultural adequacy and sustainability of nature (Galtung, 1996 p 2-3). The philosophy of peace too bears that the creation of human civilization marked the decline of direct violence in public life and private conduct. But, the structural and cultural violence embedded in society has created a gulf between the system and life-world and mediation of the two continues to remain the unfinished task of statespersons, social scientists and peace builders.

The UN postulated the condition of peace not only in the absence of war but also "freedom from fear and freedom from want." During the Cold War, peace researchers moving beyond the balance-of-power theory visualized to create harmonious order in society by providing opportunity for nation-states to reduce military spending and reap dividends of peace. The UN invented provisions for the pacific settlement of conflict. It also applied preventive diplomacy to manage conflicts at an early stage before they escalated into war. The end of the Cold War increased intra-state conflicts and assumed systemic dimension. Their resolution, therefore, entailed multiple pro-action. The concept “peace-building” was invented by famous Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung and popularized by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1992 to identify and support structures of peace in order to avoid a descent into civil wars and seek to stabilize the political situation. There are mainly four phases of peace-building:

Immediate post-conflict intervention phase of peace building, such as ceasefire, peace accord, election, monitoring of truce and human rights, humanitarian assistance to needy people, political stabilization and short-term emergency and relief measures;

Transitional peace-building such as management of changed context, actors, issues and rules, addressing the concerns of conflict residues, fostering joint projects, promotion of human security, inclusive reforms and life-supporting measures, etc;

Reconstructive peace-building especially disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating combatants, security sector reforms of army, police and public service, providing small-scale development support to people, strengthening participatory governance, rehabilitation of displaced, reconstruction of damaged infrastructures and reconciliation of divides in society; and

Transformative peace-building seeks to address the root causes of conflict and satisfies the basic needs of the community in post-conflict societies through the implementation of peace accord and mitigation of conflict.

Policy Linkage of Peace-building in Nepal

The UN Security Council Resolution 1366 calls for “the supporting role of civil society in national level conflict prevention and peace-building. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council that “both local and international civil society groups had a role to play in the deliberative processes of the UN, including the Security Council, where civil conflict and complex emergencies had taken center-stage in recent years.” The Secretary-General’s March 2005 report In Larger Freedom endorsed the High Level Panel’s recommendations for the creation of a Peace-building Commission within the Secretariat and establishing a standing fund for it of at least $250 million to finance peace-building. In December the same year, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the Security Council (UNSC) announced the creation of a Peace-building Commission. As a part of UNGA and UNSC this Commission will, according to Resolution 1645, generate resources to “advise and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict recovery, focusing attention of reconstruction, institution building and sustainable development in countries emerging from conflict.”ii

Until November 2005, the UN political and peace-building missions were deployed in several parts of the world, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Great Lakes Region, Guinea-Bissau, Middle East, Somalia, Tajikistan, West Africa, Limor-Liste, Bougainville, etc. The bulk of the international agencies involved in these peace-building missions have supported the transformation of war-shattered states into liberal market democracies and ignored the existing local means of justice and reconciliation. Most of the UN initiatives are still top-down. The “Global Action Agenda” of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) has enlarged the domain of civil society in strengthening efforts to prevent violent conflict and peace-building through home-grown local initiatives. The European Center for Conflict Prevention (ECCP), as a part of regional initiative, has organized a series of meetings on the “Role of Civil Society in the Prevention of Armed Conflicts in South Asia” in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and has prepared an action plan to be implemented at three levels: global, nation-state and civil society. The UN and these regional initiatives are, however, particularly careful about enlisting the participation of local citizens in immediate, short and long-term conflict solving approaches rather than imposing peace-building models from outside. Based on the request from the CPN (Maoist) and the government, the UN Security Council has established United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in 2007 to support monitoring of armed forces and arms, CA election and peace process. Most of the donors in Nepal have now incorporated do no harm, conflict sensitivity and peace building components into their policy documents so do the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, National Planning Commission of Nepal, line agencies, INGOs, NGOs and civic groups. These efforts, however, lack coherence.

Civil Society Groups' Efforts

Peace-building not only means the power equation of powerful actors but also implies an inclusion of marginalized and minorities as Nepal is a country of minority and there is no institutional mechanism to prevent today's minority becoming tomorrow's majority through a system of constellation. Nepal's historical experience attests the facts that imperial, hegemonic (power equation-based) and muscular method of peace outlived their utility as they were devoid of social justice and had left out potential and marginal forces. The CPA, therefore, prefers positive or "democratic peace building" efforts though negotiated process, democratic institutional building, abolition of root causes of conflict through structural transformation and creation of stake holding in the polity (Dahal, 2006 p13-14). During a post-conflict phase, it requires actors at the level of state and civil society like government officials, eminent persons, religious figures, political foundations, NGOs, community organizations, academics, research institutes, village elders, etc to adopt several operational strategies appropriate to the context: respond to humanitarian crisis, organize problem solving workshops at the local level by involving rival groups to familiarize them with the root causes of conflict, improve communication among them for establishing a rule-making regime, provide orientation on peace education and promote sustainable peace-building activities based on the shared interests of all the actors. With the broadening perception on human security, a collective approach of various stakeholders within civil society has emerged for the prevention, de-escalation and mediation of various types of conflict.

The level of social development of a state determines the efficacy of public institutions to foster human aspirations of peacefulness of community. In Nepal, for example, owing to underdevelopment trap, formal civil society groups are unevenly distributed just like the per capita income while the conflict actors and the drivers of conflict have marginalized informal ones. The expansion of the works of Local Peace Committees (LPCs) remains largely un-institutionalized due to political deadlock at the centre. The same reason has forestalled the possibility of local elected bodies' revival. In remote areas, there is absence of effective public administration and citizens are deprived of basic social goods like foods, medicines, drinking water and modern inputs for the modernization of agriculture. In urban areas and Kathmandu, civil society groups have sound transnational linkages and are competent interlocutors to communicate with funders. This means most urban civil society groups are not immune from donors’ strategic, political and economic interests. The removal of partisan approaches of dominant civil society actors, rectification of exclusionary policies and building national consensus on the design of post-conflict policies, structures and projects can overcome the civic deficit and put civil society on a firmer traction. Engaging local state institutions, CBOs, NGOs, cooperatives and civil society in rural areas is not an end in itself. It is crucial to enlist their roles in the development of a virtuous and effective state with which citizens can fully identify, comply with its rules and build allegiance to it. It is, therefore, important to respect the autonomy of public institutions from donors, the state, political parties and the market. In Nepal, civil society groups have, inter alia, contributed to following peace-building activities despite their own self-ironies:

Humanitarian Assistance to Those at Risk: One of the remarkable roles of Paropakar is to immediately provide relief goods to people affected by multiple risks. The International Press Institute-Nepal Chapter made efforts to rehabilitate journalists victimized by the conflict. Similarly, Women for Human Rights (WHR) is trying to integrate conflict victim widows into the society and providing them training on psychosocial healing and institutional linkages with national and international organizations which help to bind a conflict-torn society through palliative measures. Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WRC) in Nepal provides social and psychological support, trauma healing and counseling services to conflict-victims women. A coalition of human rights NGOs in Biratnagar works closely with the UN to coordinate assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs). It is important to articulate the full range of voices of journalists in order to make decision-making conflict sensitive, transparent and accountable. Still, training of journalists on human rights principles, common ground reporting and engaging them in peace education is significant to spread a culture of peace and tolerance and beef up the strength of "connectors of society."

Human Rights Monitoring: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC) is continuously monitoring human rights situations and suggesting to various actors the necessary courses of action. Informal Sector Service (INSEC) brings out regular reports about the human rights situation in Nepal and circulates the opinions of experts, voiceless and conflict victims. Human rights groups, media and civil society have also played roles in the release of security personnel from CPN (Maoist) and detainees from government custody. The links of national civil society with the global civil society, such as Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amnesty International (AI), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Red Cross Society (IRCS), etc have increased their strength and leverage in public sphere.

Tension De-escalation: Grassroots civil society organizations have provided early warnings about the potentials of conflict thus enabling the state and international community to intervene. The ability to identify, interpret and act on the signs is far more important in reducing the cost of conflict than resolving it. Daily newspapers often monitor and report to the power centers and public for the cost of conflict and the need for multiple engagement. At the village, regional and national levels many civil society organizations and media feed the information to Track II and Track I levels for the sensitivity of conflict. Early warning by civil society actors about long-standing grievances of certain groups of people is crucial for conflict prevention. Pressure from civil society in Nepal forced the government to withdraw Village Self-Defense Force (VDSF). In Nepal, human rights organizations and civil society have mediated a conflict between the Maoist-affiliated trade union and student union and the government for the reopening of industries and educational institutions. All these efforts have helped to deescalate the level of tension.

Empowerment of Marginalized and Women: Until recently, conflict discourses have been a male prerogative. The 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women provided the spur for women’s involvement in peace-building. Similarly, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security” supports local women’s struggle in building sustainable peace and indigenous processes based on equitable distribution of social, economic and political power between men and women. Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction is working along the line of supporting constructive engagement of women's organizations. Now, the peace-building approach also includes those potential and left-out actors of society like women, Dalits, indigenous people and ethnic groups. A climate of respect for various opinions is the bedrock of civil society participation in peace-building. Women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and transformation can consolidate post-conflict peace-building and help build a shattered society. Mobilization of mothers from rival groups has also forestalled the outbreak and escalation of violent conflict and fostered reconciliation.

Community Mediation: In Nepal, community mediation is taking place in thousands of villages to resolve local conflicts through NGOs, local elders, priests, healers, teachers, government officers and para-legal institutions, such as VDC secretaries. They are using traditional approaches, alternative dispute resolution mechanism and formal court system. Reconciliation has successfully involved local civil society and community leaders and used their traditional knowledge and skills for community reconciliation to mitigate conflict. Active engagement of local communities and their leaders in trauma healing, generating confidence and trust have alleviated the sufferings of the citizens. Reconciliation becomes successful when it is an indigenous process and involves justice, truth, healing and reparation.

Bridge Building: In Nepal, civil society and human rights organizations have acted as catalysts in several rounds of negotiations between the government and Maoist rebels. Media and human rights organizations also acted as watchdogs and agents of social protection of vulnerable sections of society. Bridge building function of civil society groups is central to creating a community and maintaining the network of supply and response at various tracks of communication and cooperative action. In Nepal, however, there is a lack of peace monitoring mechanism and Track II civic actors have been hobbled by partisan politics, division and mutual recrimination. This is the reason spoilers of peace have become active in every political parties. Bridging the divides requires overlapping policies across gender, region (hill-Tarai), ethnicity, class, caste and religions.

Public Communication, Education and Healing: The process of truth-telling and kshama (forgiveness) can begin only with a process of human feelings and empathy towards the plight of others. The Hindus use Garud Puran to heal the wound of suffering and peoples of other faiths have their own religious and spiritual resources of healing the wounds of conflict. Nagrik Awaz (Citizens’ Voice) has been continuously raising public awareness, organizing public debates and peace rallies and providing relief to victims. Women for Human Rights (WHR) is organizing single women and widows and fostering a process of mel milap (reconciliation) and trauma healing. Nepalese civil societies are campaigning to ban landmines and advocating children and educational institutions to be treated as a zone of peace. Five major political parties made public their commitment to value children as zones of peace. A coordination committee on Children in Conflict has been formed under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Similarly, a national Coalition for Children as a Zone of Peace (CZOP) has been set up. Changing collective mindsets about violent conflict requires a higher collective awareness about rights and responsibilities of civil society in a peace agenda, peace education and peace movement.

Peace Process and Peace Movements: The Track I level has become prisoner of indecision as it tried to negotiate peace with power-sharing and resolution of other issues such as ruling coalition demands Maoists to return the property seized by their cadres during conflict, dismantling of para-military structure of Young Communist League, commitment to political pluralism and its transformation into civilian party. The Maoists, too, demands its leadership of national unity government, civilian control of army, integration of Maoist combatants into army, etc. The CPA has been caught in logjam due to personalized and group-enclosed nature of decision-making. This is the reason peace movement of Track II and Track III civil society actors have become essential to unfreeze the peace accord. National Business Initiative (NBI) for peace in Nepal has been regularly discussing the option for the economics of peace thus putting pressures on conflicting parties for non-violent choices, such as ceasefire, dialogue and resolution of conflict, corporate ethics and business-friendly environment. Top-down approach of reaching rural areas from the capital city is necessary but not sufficient. The dynamic mass-based peace movements from bottom-up require a new paradigm of reconstruction which can garner cross-cutting social capital and social support. Many religious bodies and pundits are engaged in spiritual discourse, Saptaha, Yagna, Puja, etc motivated by charity to construct schools, colleges, libraries, temples, hospitals, roads and resting places in Nepal. They have released spiritual energy to link the broken society and set good examples of socialization and collective action. Multi-religious processions for communal harmony have become regular features of peace politics in Nepal.

Delivery of Public Goods and Services: Conflict damages the supply chains and service delivery at the grassroots level. There is a need to build a new relationship between the state, civil society and local communities to provide services to the needy, feed the hungry, care for the sick, protection for homeless citizens and orphans and give life to economic development. Now, 3.4 million people of Nepal are suffering from food deficit partly because of the abandonment of production-based economic policy, partly because of transportation backwardness and partly because of insecurity. The line agencies of the government, District Development Committees (DDCs) are coordinating their activities with the government and international community in service delivery area. The Peace Trust Fund and Poverty Alleviation Fund are partly sharing burden in this process. This requires sustained communication, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the agencies working at the field level. In a number of areas, it is important to revive the local cooperatives run by communities and mobile services providing delivery of public goods. Local ownership of projects has greater chance of sustainability than those externally-induced. Eradication of poverty, inequality, exclusion, generation of employment, restoration of infrastructure and renewal of social communication are critical areas to address the root causes of conflict and provide the majority a stake in and hope for their shared future.

Cohesive Strategic Action: Cohesive, comprehensive and integrated action by the state, political parties, civil society and international community is central to prevent the recurrence of violence and conflict and exert pressure on political actors on conflict transformation into peace. Nepal Development Forum (NDF), London Meet and Brussels meet of mainstream donors have focused on the role of civil society in a democracy, non-violent strategic action and peace movements in Nepal. The establishment of High Level Political Mechanism (HLPM) is an important initiative for breaking the deadlock but it suffered from self-ironies as it is seen as a mechanism for power struggle and lack support of critical masses for legitimacy and effectiveness. In Nepal, there is also a need to establish High Level Peace Committee to settle many conflict-prone issues and remove the barriers to implement the peace accord. Peace implementation largely rests on sound political understanding, social cohesion and economic revival to generate confidence in the peace process; enable the establishment of all the institutional pillars of peace spelled out in CPA and LPCs and create business and investment-friendly environment for social and system integration.

Obstacle to Peace-building

Given the nature of high political dynamics in Nepal generated by mutual distrust arising out of leadership struggle, irresolution of many constitutional issues such as integration of Maoist combatants in productive life of the nation, forms of governance, judicial independence, federalism, prior use of rights over resources, leadership struggle, etc and changing menu of conflict actors, peace-building faces several challenges: the regional and global drivers of conflict supplying contradictory ideas and incentives to conflict actors, short-term relief rather than long-term peace-building approach of donors, lack of comprehensive view and contexts of people which produces the causes of conflict and inability of the leadership to de-link minor conflict fuelling the macro conflict. Political leaders thus face a shift in institutional environment after the CA election, encounter structural and organizational barriers in assuming lead role in conflict mitigation and peace and lack inter-institutional solidarity for effective collective action.

Structural Barriers: Although the international community has tailored its support for conflict-sensitive programs, its approach and interests are not cohesive, as aid follows the political interest and priorities of individual countries. Supporting individual-driven peace talks at the summit level defied the prospect for inclusivity, transparency and process-orientation. This is the reason demands for the implementation of all the previous pacts, successful conclusion of peace process, promulgation of new constitution by May 28, 2010 and abolition of culture of impunity through the establishment of Justice and Reconciliation Committee (JRC), Commission on Disappeared Persons and High Level Peace Commission, etc are becoming louder. In many cases, what some donors call civil society groups are actually their traditional partners—consultancy firms, NGOs based on poor membership and clients. Donors exclusively working with such groups are confined only in urban areas. Those working with local formal and informal institutions, communities and Village Development Committee (VDC) have to negotiate with the government, beneficiaries of the projects and the 109 non-state armed actors where they have succeeded in imposing their own structures and arbitrary action thus limiting the outreach of state and expansion of development space. The Basic Operating Guidelines (BOG) signed by ten donor agencies and recognized by the government and rebels has only ensured the safety of project staff and implementers but has not helped stop disruptive activities, taxation and financing insurgency. And, non-state armed actors are not a party to it.

Institutional Barriers: Institutions are true-life measures that provide incentives, options and even set constraints to actors who are involved in certain role performance. Distributional conflict largely imposes institutional barrier for peace builder's engagements at the grassroots level. The government thinks that urban civil society groups are party-oriented, clientelist, family controlled, agitational and not accountable to the larger public. Considering that the state alone is capable of undertaking the larger national interest and public action, the government has introduced the Code of Conduct for Social Organizations and Institutions 2005 with binding capabilities. As the code limited civil society groups and NGOs to the “non-political” public domain, the NGO Federation of Nepal and Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN) opposed this and instead prepared their own codes. These have bred rigidity and weakened the potentials, competence and elasticity intrinsic to trust-based modes of cooperation. The absence of trust between the state and INGOs, NGOs, civil society and private sectors has paralyzed collective action even after the rollback of the Code and restoration of democracy in 2006. The expectations of public for post-conflict transformation and peace dividends remain undernourished.


The existing high political dynamics has offered a new "bargaining environment" for various groups for negotiation and constrained the possibility for post-conflict constitutional stability, governance and peace building. Deep distrust between political leaders and their group-enclosed decision making have prevented the possibility for social contract, a workable constitution in time and social learning about the changing political narratives and context as well as modify their behavior and expedite the process of post-conflict peace-building. International support must take into account the constraints state officials face and help facilitate their dialogue projects into building state-society interface to remove security and authority vacuum and fulfill governance goals. For this, social learning among the multi-tract actors and donors is specially important as it involves the right choice of partners, trainees and groups who are to get access to the program resources and the choice of learning approaches in the capacity building, which should encourage self-reflection and ability to set new standards in the society and provide effective transformational leadership capable of promoting the transition to a non-violent, consensus-oriented political culture.

Building peace requires paying attention to the spatial, social and cultural dimension (as these are connected to political, economic and historical aspects) of peace construction as a national project. Durable peace requires coherence of political ends of all significant groups and corresponding choice of means. The CPA underlines a hope in pacta sunt servanda and resolution of conflict through "dialogue, understanding and consensus." Hope is certainly a basic element but it is not enough to achieve stable peace. It requires rational thinking and commitment of political parties and other stakeholders, cohesive strategic action, broadening the circles of peace, unmatched human warmth and distribution peace dividends what Gautam Buddha called sukha (bliss). Positive peace embedded in the elimination of taproots of conflict requires the work of yet to be formed Justice and Reconciliation Commission. A peace policy also requires a coalition of peace promoters within the political parties and state institutions. This means state officials, media, civil society, civic groups and international community as bridge builders have major responsibilities in knowledge building on peace, peace research and teaching, peace communication, human needs fulfillment and peaceful collective action. As the culture of peace grows, actors move towards greater understanding over their differences and reverse the antinomy between morality and politics.

End Notes

i Peace building is a process which aims towards long-term structural transformation of deadly conflict into ceasefires, peaceful relationships among the stakeholders, building democracy, social justice and enhancing cooperation. Effective peace building requires establishing a strategic framework of objectives for international assistance on state building; establishing the legitimacy of political system thorough election, drafting of a new constitution, setting priorities for a common development conflict and structural reforms as incentives to turn former foes into friends.

ii The proposed integrated strategies for post-conflict peace building and recovery help to ensure predictable financing for early recovery activities and sustained financial investment over the medium- to longer-term, extend the period of attention by the international community to post-conflict recovery; and develop best practices on issues that require extensive collaboration among political, military, humanitarian and development actors.


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