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South Asia Peace Initiative

Forum on the Challenges of Governance for Sustainable Peace in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - Twenty-four parliamentarians from Nepal’s Constituent Assembly representing at least 14 different political parties, in addition to legal experts, academicians, military experts, human rights advocates, and international peace educators were among the 150 guests who shared their views on the topic, “The Challenges of Governance for Sustainable Peace.”

This December 23 program at the Peace Embassy Building in Kathmandu was packed with excitement as each of the eight scheduled speakers was given just ten minutes to express their views on the timely topic. This meant presentations had to be focused and concise.

Chairman of Universal Peace Federation-Nepal and MP, Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, reviewed the role UPF played in the peace process. At each critical step of the way, beginning in November 2005, UPF held programs designed to support the peace process. UPF has continually raised awareness about the need for spiritual values to guide the nation and to be integrated into Nepal’s new constitution. This was the seventh program in the South Asia Peace Initiative Series held in Nepal.

Mr. Bishwo Kanta Mainali, President of the Bar Association noted that the expectations of the people were high and the resources limited. Nevertheless, he said that peace and development could come about only within the “rule of law.” Justice, he reiterated, had to be given to the victims of violence.

Hon. Mainali went on to say that the constitution was not just a statutory document. “It must reflect the heart of the people,” he said, “Otherwise, it will not function.” He appreciated UPF’s continued emphasis on family values as integral to nation-building.

Next Hon. Dina Nath Sharma, MP from the CPN-Maoist party, noted that each person has “two types of mind; they have bad and good inside them.” To bring out the good side, Hon. Sharma advised that the government must advance “economic equality, human rights, and tolerance of religious differences.” Concluding his remarks, the Maoist MP said, “We must kick out discrimination and put priorities on work, not on money.”

Hon. Nilambar Acharya, MP, again emphasized the need for the rule of law beginning with lawmakers themselves. Taking this a step further, he said that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness meant that the government should not block or obstruct educational institutions or businesses that are already successful, but instead give them priority in order to be even more effective.”

Hon. Acharya explained that the international community was willing to help Nepal, but first the Nepalese have to get the basics right, centering on the right to life.

“Passion requires self-control,” Hon. Radhe Shyam Adhikari told the delegates. He counseled fellow lawmakers that they must listen to the people and then think of creative ways to act, especially in formulating the articles of Nepal’s new constitution.

International peace educator Dr. Robert S. Kittel focused on individual attitudes and behavior as essential elements of peace. “Living for others,” noted Dr. Kittel, “will create sustainable peace, because that is the essence and nature of love.” On the contrary, “living for myself” will create and sustain a culture of violence. He went on the say that the family was the place where “living for others” was learned, and thus it is the most important social institution.

The only woman among the speakers emphasized the necessity for “due process,” noting that not only must the final outcome be right, but the steps taken to achieve this goal must also be within the law. Highlighting this point, Hon. Sapana Malla Pradhan, MP from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist, said, “The process of making the new constitution must be transparent.” Only in this way can people feel “ownership” of the highest laws of their land.

Former Speaker of the House, Hon. Taranath Ranabath, challenged the audience by saying that only 240 parliamentarians actually represented the people (the other MP were appointed through party-based elections). Although he was not a scheduled speaker, his contributions were still sincerely valued.

Hon. Ranabath urged that the new constitution be written quickly because without this fundamental legal document, Nepal is a nation in free-fall. He emphasized the urgency saying that only with a national constitution in place can the rule of law be set and a standard of discipline be established.

A short question-and-answer session followed, with most of the questions going to Hon. Sharma, the representative of the Maoists. Following this, dinner was served.

For previous reports of UPF initiatives in Nepal, click here.

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