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Peace Education

UPF Principles Provide Insights in Drafting a Constitution for Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepal is a nation being reborn, and UPF is playing an important role in that process. Elections last year were a significant step forward in the on-going peace process that brought militant communist insurgents into the political mainstream. But the roadmap to peace began November 22, 2005 with two significant events taking place simultaneously, one in New Delhi and the other in Kathmandu.

In the Indian capital seven political parties signed a comprehensive 12-point peace agreement that brought an end to the ten-year-old civil war that left at least 13,000 people dead.

On the same day the UPF founder, Father Moon, came to Nepal on his world speaking tour. In the capital, Kathmandu, he explained the internal or spiritual conditions that would bring lasting peace to the land where Buddha was born.

Over the next four years, UPF-Nepal held seven South Asia Peace Initiative programs that brought together national leaders from all political ideologies to dialogue freely among themselves and learn UPF’s principle of peace.

The climax was a meeting inside the Nepalese parliament last year. Before more than 120 Members of Parliament the Hon. Chitralekha Yadav, then Deputy Speaker of Parliament, declared, “As a Member of Parliament and as a Nepalese citizen, I would like to express our gratitude to Father Moon for helping to bring peace in Nepal.”

Yadav, one of the highest-profile women politicians in Nepal, knew the job was just beginning. She told fellow law-makers, “If we really try to put Father Moon’s principles into practice, then we can be very instrumental in achieving lasting peace for our nation.”

Now that time has come.

Nepal is writing a new constitution. The Chairman of UPF-Nepal, Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, 35, is a Member of Parliament and also on the constitutional drafting committee. In the following interview, he highlighted how UPF's universal principles of peace can provide insights in drafting the founding document for the rebirth the world's newest republic.

Kittel: What unique insight does the UPF’s perspective offer in the process of writing a national constitution?
Dhakal: There are many problems in our country: corruption, inequality, injustice, no rule of law, poverty, illiteracy and the violation of fundamental human rights. These, of course, are not unique to Nepal. But UPF’s principles of peace clarify the underlying cause of these social ills.

Without addressing the root cause, problems cannot be solved. They would reappear at different times and in different forms. In drafting Nepal’s constitution we are attempting to solve the problems of the Nepalese people. UPF's principles of peace provided guidelines that can help us analyze the essential elements needed in writing our nation’s highest legal document.

Kittel: What does UPF see as the fundamental cause of our social ills?
Dhakal: The root cause is selfishness. Selfishness is not found in just one party, one religion or one ethnic group. It is also not just a Nepalese problem; it is a universal problem. Of course in writing the Nepalese constitution we must address the specific issues articulated by the people — and we will do that.

It is not uncommon for politicians to put themselves above their party and even their own nation. When they do this, they are putting the desire for personal wealth above the well-being of the nation. To bring things back on the right track we must understand the core principle of living more for others than for ourselves. The greater good must always be placed in the higher position.

I am confident that if we can apply the principle of unselfish giving to our nation’s legal framework, then we can truly address the fundamental problems of this nation.

Kittel: What can be added to the constitution to address the issue of selfishness?
Dhakal: The most important institution that teaches unselfishness and creates a spirit of altruism is the family. Among family members there is love, respect, transparency and trust. There is also a clear vertical and horizontal order. These are very natural principles in our families. So the culture and spirit of the family will help solve our nation’s problems.

The emphasis on individual freedoms can be balanced by also mentioning the importance of the family. Many constitutions, including Nepal’s interim constitution, focus on individual freedoms and the structure and function of the government. We see the consequences of omitting any reference to the family in many developed nations today; there is an over-emphasis on the individual.

In the Nepalese constitution the word “family” is mentioned in reference to families or family members who have been victims of civil conflict and the property of the former royal family, which is to be put in a public trust now that the monarchy has been abolished. But the importance of the family as a social institution is not mentioned.

If we do not create the spirit of the family in our nation, then people will feel excluded. The nation is like one big family where there are many differences, including race, religion, ethnic background, and caste. The family model can help promote social integration, reconciliation, and harmony.

To balance the rights of the individual with the obligations to help preserve the values inherent in our Nepalese families, one or two sentences should be added to the constitution which address this concern.

Kittel: What role has UPF played in nation-building in Nepal?
Dhakal: UPF has many programs that teach good governance and character development. But education has to be put into practice. So parallel to our education programs we have many activities that apply these principles. This balance of education and practice is very powerful and is making a change in Nepal. Because of this, UPF has built a reputation of trust among the Nepalese people.

Note: Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, a member of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, was born August 13, 1974 in the beautiful and historical district of Gorkha, where the modern Nepal nation was united under the Shah dynasty in 1768. His great grandfather was the chief Hindu priest and religious adviser to the king, and his father was a Gorkha soldier who fought in World War II with the Royal British Army in Burma. Hon. Dhakal received his formal education from the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, where he studied political science for two years followed by three years of study in sociology and anthropology. His wife, Mrs. Blessie Gadon Dhakal, is from the Philippines and they have four children.

For reports of UPF activities in Nepal, click here.

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