forex trading logo

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Democracy Strengthen PDF Print E-mail

Overall goal of FOHRID's activities on democracy theme is "Strengthening democratic process and culture through promoting inter-party institutional democracy and institutional capacity building at all levels. FOHRID aims to work for constructive engagement in constitution drafting process, raise and recommend concerns of civil society with CA members; sensitize people on the issues of democratic reform and institutionalize inclusive democratic practice; and work for political party reform agenda".

Lack of accountability is entrenched within political parties as interparty conflicts and undemocratic practices, corruption, criminalization of politics, impunity, misuse of means and resources, lack transparency continue unabated affecting the nation's democratic system. Parties largely fail to consolidate democracy as erosion of ideology, exclusion of people’s interest and internal factionalism dominate party politics in Nepal. The scenario of equal and open participation of all people in political parties is not encouraging e.g. women’s inclusion at central level of the political parties is 28.7% in overall and 12.4% in executive committees. Compliance to legal provisions and regulations on political financing is very weak. The income and expenditure reports are not maintained in a proper and transparent way. Political parties do not submit their reports to the Election Commission (EC) making it difficult to assess their reliability. Although the EC has set up limit on electoral expenses by any candidate, it has not established any monitoring and auditing mechanism to track the expenditures during the election. Democratization of inner life of parties is the promising way to embrace a culture of inclusion, listening, deliberation and negotiation and a way out of the abyss of multi-layered conflicts in Nepal

FOHRID has been proceeding with intervention strategy to carry out research, advocacy on federal democratic judiciary system; launch programs for reform and restructuring mainstream political parties which are the lifeline of inclusive democracy and strengthening of democratic norms; carry out civic education on genuine democratic system; voters' education and election observation; anti-corruption campaign; and advocacy for good governance.

 

1. Facilitation in the Constitution Making Process
Study on "New Constitution: points of dispute, solution and political accountability". This study focused to narrow down the issues left after consensus was developed by the High Level Task Force formed by the CA on some issues of contention reflected in the preliminary drafts and concepts of thematic committees. The High Level Committee was formed by the meeting of the Parliamentary Party leaders of 27 political parties on 2067/6/25. The Task Force was chaired by Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and Ram Chandra Paudel, Jhalanath Khanal, Upendra Yadav, Narayan Man Bijukshe 'Rohit', Prem Bahadur Singh and Rukmini Chaudhari (Tharu) were the members. To support their work, the Task Force members were allowed to involve one each CA member or party leader in the meetings. Under this provision, Dev Prasad Gurung, Ramesh Lekhak, Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Ratneshwor Lal Kayastha, Sunil Prajapati, Basudev Chaudhari and Hikmat Bahadur Deuba participated the meeting. Similarly, the meeting of the Task Force held on 2067/7/16 decided to invite Coordinator of the Committee to study report of the concept and preliminary draft Agni Prasad Kharel and members Ekraj Bhandari, Radheshyam Adhikari and Laxman Lal Karna in the Task Force. (Source: Report of the Task Force).

It assessed the achievements of the CA committee to finalize preliminary draft of constitution. The study analyzed disputed issues in the drafts of major 6 committees. This effort was, thus, designed to assist in the consensus building in the constitution making process. The study reviewed achievements made so far in the constitution making process, controversies in the thematic committees, issues pointed out by the 27 party Task Force and suggested measures to resolve the issues of contention. Following table presents some of the major issues that require to be resolved for a successful new constitution:

 

Committee to Determine Form of Governance

  • What will be the future form of governance of the country like?
  • What will be the method of the formation of cabinet?
  • Whether the President or the Prime Minister shall be the executive head of the country? How to elect the President and the Prime Minister?
  • What will be the election system of the legislature? How to ensure inclusive representation?

Committee to Determine Form of Legislative Organ

  •  What shall be the number of house in the Federal parliament and what will be its number of members?

Justice system

  • Whether or not the Supreme Court should be authorized for final interpretation of the constitution.
  • Whether the central mechanism should carry out the appointment and transfer of provincial high court, should it be conducted by an institution like Judicial Council or by the legislature?

Committee for Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

  • How to criminalize serious crimes of international concern under the right to justice and how to establish the right to remedy against such crimes and right against impunity?
  • How to incorporate right regarding property?

Committee to Protect National Interest

  • Whether or not to provide compulsory military training to the Nepali citizens after attaining 18 years of age?

 

State restructuring

  • How many provinces should be formed? How to determine their names and boundaries?

Constitutional Committee

  • How to address the issues such as pluralism, right to self determination, political primary rights, whether or not to accept the principle of fundamental structure (limiting certain issues as unamendable) in the context of amendment of the constitution?

 

We are facing some technical difficulty to identify measures to resolve the above contentious issues. The political parties should have been clear on these issues in the beginning of the constitution making process. However, they have differences till now. Any recommendation to resolve these issues requires agreeing to a party line and discarding the others. Therefore, arrangement is being made to receive feedback from the representatives of major 3 political parties UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

 

Background discussion papers were prepared with the analysis of contemporary issues such as pluralism, political accountability, political mega trend, political deadlock, peace process, army reintegration etc. Following 5 papers have been written by experts:

  • "One party or pluralism" - Nutan Thapaliya, senior human rights defender: Thapaliya has analyzed the historical and theoretical issues relating to pluralism and single party system. He has explained the issue of pluralism and people's democracy from several dimensions in the Nepalese context. He has presented the major differences between these two systems in a table.
  • "Democracy, pluralism and multiparty system" - K.P. Sharma Oli, senior leader of CPN-UML: Mr. Oli has justified the need to institutionalize the achievements of the Jana Andolan II and presented explanation about the need of pluralism in the Nepalese context. This write up sheds light on how and why pluralism is necessary for democracy. The author claims that the people's democracy is irrelevant in the 21st century, and there is no alternate of using the word and principle of pluralism in the new constitution.
  • "Democratic stability in Nepal: Political accountability and trends" - Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, Central Department of Political Science, TU: Positive achievements in the fields of economic, socio-cultural, religious, educational and media sector, increased influence of human rights and civil society have been described by the author as attraction of Nepalese democracy after Jana Andolan II. The issue of political stability and institutionalization of democracy have been described comparatively during the time of King Mahendra, King Birendra, King Gyanendra and the republican era. The author has pointed out role of leadership, internal conflict within parties, impunity, politicization of crime & criminalization of politics as hindrances obstructing institutionalization of democracy. He has further analyzed economic Cause of Political instability in Nepal and preconditions/prerequisites of democracy. Finally, the paper makes some recommendations to the stakeholders including political parties for democratic stability in Nepal.
  • "Constitution making and peace process: Problems and way out" – Kashiraj Dahal, constitutional expert: Describing about lack of clarity of thought in the political parties, Dahal sheds light on the obstacles seen in the constitution making and peace process. The paper analyzes the interlink between constitution making and peace process and presents conflict in the Nepalese context between these two. Pointing out measures for resolving problems, it has recommended some conditions for extension of CA term.
  • "Constitution making and peace process" - Sujit Mainali, Journalist: Describing the obstructions in the constitution making and peace process created by the power game among political parties, Mainali has pointed that the parties are lagging behind to fulfil their responsibilities. He opines that the political parties are unnecessarily engaged in the debate of whether peace or the constitution should be dealt first. He concludes that the political parties cannot run away from the responsibility to fulfil both these obligations simultaneously.

FOHRID played the role of Secretariat to forward civic initiative to give outlet to the issues which remain undecided in the constitution making process. For this, facilitation and coordination is conducted among key stakeholders.

 

2. Interaction Forum to ensure accountability:

Interaction program on "Context of Constitution Making: People's Democracy or Pluralism" was organized by FOHRID to discuss whether people's democracy or pluralism should be incorporated in the new constitution and to contribute in resolving this debate. This program organized in the round table interface interaction model, senior human rights defender Nutan Thapaliya presented his paper entitled "One party or pluralism" and senior leader of CPN-UML K.P. Sharma Oli presented his paper "Democracy, pluralism and multiparty system". CA Constitutional Committee President Nilambar Acharya discussed about the complexities seen during the constitution making process. Total 95 participants including representatives of political parties, political scientists, civil society and journalists participated the program. The program was chaired by former election commissioner Prof. Dr. Birendra Mishra and run as Moderator by FOHRID President Birendra Thapaliya.

Nepal has a rich and unique natural diversity. People from various religion, ethnicity, and occupation have been living in this land together for several centuries. A single party, ideology or leadership cannot lead the genetic, geographical, social and cultural diversity of the land. About political system, there is no choice but to incorporate either pluralism or people's democracy in the new constitution. Pluralism has a relatively longer and more logical history. At the same time, we cannot say that people's democracy cannot offer a wider measure to address the current problems. For a long time in the past, Nepalese people have been expecting a revised framework of political and governing system. We have to see whether the parties can address people's aspirations and fulfil their expectations through people's democracy and pluralism.

Similarly, FOHRID organized an interaction on the issue of constitution making and political accountability. Senior human rights defender Nutan Thapaliya chaired the program organized as round table interaction. After the dignitaries were seated on the dais, Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal presented his paper entitled "Democratic stability in Nepal: Political accountability and trends" and young journalist Sujit Mainali presented his paper "Constitution making and peace process". About 60 participants including student leaders of various colleges, leaders of sister organizations of political parties, intellectuals, civil society, human rights defenders, representatives of NGOs actively participated the program facilitated by Advocate Raj Kumar Siwakoti.

 

3. Expert meetings:

FOHRID organized an interaction program entitled Extension of the term of CA and clear roadmap for the country in Kathmandu on 22 May 2011 (2068 Jestha 4). Consultation was held with Constitutional Committee President Nilambar Acharya and members to determine subject matters and date for the program. Constitution expert Kashiraj Dahal presented his paper entitled "Constitution making and peace process: Problems and way out" and Advocate Raj Kumar Siwakoti presented his paper on behalf of FOHRID entitled "Extension of CA term and clear roadmap of the nation". Constitutional Committee President Nilambar Acharya was Chief Speaker in the program and about 50 people including constitutional experts, lawyers, intellectuals, representatives of civil society, human rights community, NGO representatives, and journalists participated the program. Advocate Birendra Thapaliya facilitated the program.

Conclusion

  • The 12 point agreement reached between the then 7 political parties and CPN Maoist led to a glorious victory for democracy in April 2006. This opened door for fulfilling the desire of the people to formulate a constitution to rule them by themselves. Nepal started constitution making process after election to the CA. Three years have been passed after Nepalese people got this opportunity. The initial two years of the CA could not address the people's expectations properly. The constitution making process was hampered by the issues of fulfilling transitional management, democratic stability and peace process. One year additional term of the CA was approved in the midnight of 28 May 2010 to conclude the remaining tasks and to promulgate new constitution. Though a new constitution could not be promulgated in the past three years, the Constitutional Committee, thematic committees (Thematic Committees in the CA were 1. Committee for Fundamental Rights and Directive Principle, 2. Committee for Protection of the Rights and Interest of the minority and Marginalized Communities, 3. Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power, 4. Committee to Determine form of legislative Organ, 5. Committee to Determine Form of Governance of the State, 6. Committee on Justice System, 7. Committee to Determine Structure of Constitutional Bodies, 8. Committee to Divide Natural Resources, Economic rights and Revenue, 9. Committee to determine ground for Cultural and social Solidarity, 10. Committee for Protection of National Interest, 11. Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power) and 3 procedural committees (The three procedural committees include: 1. Committee for Citizens' Relations, 2. Collection of Opinion and Coordination Committee, 3. Capacity building and Resource management Committee) finalized their preliminary drafts. The Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power could not finalize its draft and the other drafts were also not unanimous. In this way, the journey to the new constitution started, but it remained incomplete.
  • We are short of time for successful constitution making. The political situation has compelled to seek alternate and we have the challenge to institutionalize achievements of the Jana Andolan II and frame a new Nepal through a new constitution. We must accept that the politics of prohibition and the practice of majority instead of consensus have badly affected our journey towards democratic system. To go forward with the assessment of lack of vision and irresponsibility seen in the past 3 years, we must link extension of CA with the democratic constitution making and institutionalizing democracy. We must make an action plan keeping the issues of democratic stability, constitution making and peace process at the centerstage. Extending the term with a clear action plan, we must be accountable to fulfil them. These commitments must be made and incorporated in the annex of the Interim Constitution through its amendment.

The agenda and action plan for the formulation of new constitution can be listed as follows:

  • Formation of new government of national consensus and democratic stability: There is no alternate of formation of a national consensus government for constitution making, concluding peace process to a logical end and stable democracy. Once the consensus government is formed, the parties should not seek next government till fresh mandate is sought under a new constitution. It is unfortunate in our democratic practice that none of the governments have remained in the office for a complete term. The political parties must be ready to allow the majority government to work for its full term without any problem and the opposition party should behave as responsible opposition.
  • Trust the new generation: It is a common trend that no one retires from the political life even when he is unable to fulfil his responsibility and accountability. Nepalese citizens are seeking answer from the political parties whether or not the political leaders should retire from political and public life if they cannot fulfil their responsibility. The relevance and existence of the political leaders and CA members shall not be important anymore if they fail to formulate constitution in time, conclude peace process, and give way out from transitional phase and show the practice and result of political stability. The major actors still have the opportunity to fulfil this, but it would be unfortunate if they delay this process again.
  • Peace process and army reintegration and rehabilitation: The exact number of the combatants and the funding provided by the government and external sources are not transparent. The political parties have not been able to develop consensus on the number, framework and method of reintegration and rehabilitation. They are not clear whether the reintegration and rehabilitation should take place before or after the constitution making. They have not determined the agenda to bring the combatants under purview of the Special Committee and remove, destroy or hand over the weapons stored in the cantonment to the government. The government has failed to guarantee return of the individual and public property captured illegally and forcibly.
  • Duration of the term of CA for next extension: It would be appropriate to extend the CA term by 3 months to conclude the peace process and form a government of national consensus. After completion of these responsibilities, the term of the CA can be extended for 3 months more to promulgate a new constitution. If the political parties fail to fulfil these responsibilities, there is no alternative to go for a fresh mandate through democratic elections. Currently, the people are against extension of the CA term. The credibility of the political parties shall be enhanced if they agree to minimum remuneration or no cost extension as the CA is inevitable now. The term can be extended for maximum 6 months which can be divided as first 2 months to prepare preliminary consolidated draft, next two months for consultation at the people's level and final two months for discussion and promulgation through the CA.
  • Resolve the controversial issues and determine basic features: The political forces failed to determine basic features while entering into the CA. The debates seen in the thematic committees are directly related to the basic features of democratic constitution. It derailed the peace process; however we have the opportunity to learn from the past. Therefore, agreement on those issues is the agreement on the features of constitution based on the basic features of the constitutionalism. We can determine the features through the issues being discussed in the CA. Therefore, the CA should be extended only after determining solutions in the controversial issues of the thematic committees and the basic features of the new constitution. The basic features of the new constitution can be determined if we resolve differences seen in the constitution making process. How to structure the federal states and how many states? How to name and determine boundary of the states? These are the challenging questions before us. If these cannot be resolved, we can leave aside the issue of federalism for the next 10 years and adopt the decentralization policy. We can determine and implement the form of federalism within these 10 years. If this is not possible, the stakeholders have pointed out, we can hold referendum to decide whether or not to go for federalism.
  • Addressing transitional justice issues: To address the transitional justice issues, we need to formulate effective law for TRC and Commission on Investigation of Disappearance. These commissions need to be formed immediately. We must not forget the responsibility to adopt the international criminal justice system by acceding to the Rome Statute of ICC.
  • No more inaction: The history of inaction of the past three years shall repeat if the CA term is extended without a clear agenda and action plan. We are still in the departure point of three years ago as we did not frame a clear roadmap in the past. There is no alternate of implementing the agenda if we want to give a way out to the country and institutionalize democracy. We cannot ignore this responsibility. This is the expectation of the people with the political parties and senior leaders.
  • Monitoring the political commitments: The civil society and international community should continue to monitor application of the agenda determined for extension of the CA term by the political parties and senior leaders.

Expert meeting on Need of clear action plan for CA term extension, was held in Kathmandu, 24 May 2011. The program was conducted with an interactive methodology. In the beginning, Advocate Raj Kumar Siwakoti, Secretary General of FOHRID presented a study document entitled "Conditions for extending the CA term again". Then the participants intensively discussed on the issue and provided their feedback to finalize the draft document. FOHRID President Advocate Birendra Thapaliya conducted the program as moderator in which leaders of human rights and civil society including senior Advocate and former Speaker Damannath Dhungana, civil society leader Padhma Ratna Tuladhar, senior human rights defender Charan Prasai actively participated.

Conclusion The meeting finalized the document presented on behalf of FOHRID. It was circulated widely among stakeholders through electronic media. The outcome of the meeting was printed and disseminated to all the existing CA members by dropping the hard copy to the pigeon holes. Conclusion of the program is as follows:

  • The new constitution could not be drafted in the extended term due to inaction of the political parties and lack of accountability.
  • The CA term should be extended for the last time for 6 months by making public a clear action plan to complete remaining obligations of peace process and constitution making. The political parties must go for fresh mandate if the constitution drafting process cannot be completed after fresh extension also. They should prioritize management and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants in the next extended term. It is necessary to determine the number of combatants to be integrated, detach the combatants from the UCPN-Maoist before 28 May 2011 and to destroy or hand over to the government weapons of the combatants stored in the containers.
  • As national consensus is required to succeed constitution making and peace process, the parties should immediately form a government of national consensus. They must express commitment to ensure that the new constitution shall be based on the universal democratic standard and the past incidents of human rights violation shall be addressed immediately.
  • The CA should finalize preliminary draft of new constitution and start discussion on it within first month of extended term, revise the draft through public consultation and submit in the CA for discussion within 4th month. The draft of constitution should be finalized in the fifth month and promulgated it in the sixth month.

 

4. Initiative to support constitution making and peace process
This initiative was carried out with three objectives. First, to contribute for developing common understanding among major stakeholders to accomplish constitution making process in time, and to lead peace process to a logical conclusion. Second, to conduct interaction among representatives of major political parties to build a common perspective among them on the issues and grounds by identifying their common views on the issue of state restructuring, especially formation of federal states and determination of governance system. Third, to exert pressure to the political parties for common opinion setting in the constitution making process and to conduct advocacy for timely formulation of new constitution and to lead the peace process to a logical end.

Three activities were implemented under this initiative. First, Mapping, produce analytical working papers, and compilation, publication and dissemination. Second, FOHRID worked as Secretariat to forward civic initiative to explore way out on the contentious issues pertaining to state restructuring. FOHRID carried out overall coordination of the activities including strategy meetings of the human rights and civil society leaders. The strategy meeting made decisions in coordination with the political parties, Members and thematic Committees of the CA, civil society and experts. The meetings facilitated among key stakeholders on behalf of the Secretariat, and formed lobbying delegation teams for specific event and purpose. Third, Mobilize civil society to build a common understanding on state restructuring through public / subtle diplomacy and timely constitution making and logical conclusion of the peace process.

Mapping of the state restructuring and division of Federalism:
All the 25 political parties submitted their perspectives regarding state restructuring and division of federalism to the CA Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Authority. However, there was lack of consensus among political parties in the issues such as form of federalism, ground for formation of federal units, naming of federal states and its ground, naming of the federal units and its ground etc. While analyzing concepts floated by different political parties, all but the Rastriya Jana Morcha are in favour of federalism. considering their diverse ideas, it is difficult to reach consensus about standard and point of departure for determination of federalism.

Numbers of provinces/states proposed by political parties

#

Name of political party

Number of provinces/states

1

Nepal Rastriya Party

5 provinces, 16 states

2

Rastriya Janamorcha Party

7 provinces

3

CPN-ML

6 provinces

4

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Nepal

Madhes Pradesh

5

Nepali Janata Dal

7 Federal Republics

6

Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party

14 provinces

7

CPN – United

11 provinces

8

UCPN-Maoist

13 States, 4 governed by centre

9

Rastriya Janamukti Party

12 States

10

Nepal Loktantrik Samajwadi Dal

8 States

11

Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi)

3 States, 5 sub-states within Madhes Prades

Source: Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Authority

Mapping on the state's form of governance:
While pondering over the election manifesto and suggestions given to the thematic committee of the CA, the political parties representing in the CA do not have uniform concept about state's form of governance. They have proposed presidential, parliamentary and mixed forms of governance. Constitutional draft in the state's form of governance is not possible without consensus among political parties.

 

Propositions of major political parties regarding form of governance

#

Issues

UCPN-Maoist

Nepali Congress

CPN-UML

1

President's election

Through direct election based on adult franchise

Through electoral team of members of central and provincial legislature

Through electoral team of members of central and provincial legislature

2

President's power

Executive

Ceremonial (with limited power)

Ceremonial (with limited power)

3

Prime Minister's power

Prime Minister is not necessary

Executive power

Executive power

4

Prime Minister's election

Prime Minister is not necessary

Through majority in the lower house of the central legislature

Direct election through adult franchise

5

Stability

As the president is directly elected, he will not be changed through mathematical game of the parliament.

Vote of confidence will not be placed for certain duration.

Prime minister can work full tenure if not removed through impeachment in the legislature.

6

Responsible and accountable government

Directly accountable to the people, the legislature can present impeachment as recommended by the concerned political party also.

The government will be accountable towards legislature for daily activities.

Directly accountable to the people, determining accountability through periodical election, Impeachment against executive head through two third majority of the legislature.

7

Formation of government

President shall determine threshold in proportion with the number of seats of the political parties in the legislature, inclusive and proportionate cabinet to be formed from among members of the legislative organs.

Prime minister shall appoint ministers as required from among the members of legislature.

Prime minister to appoint ministers from those who are not members of legislature, and if a member of legislature becomes minister he shall resign from the membership.

8

Election system

Multi member, proportional direct election system

Mixed election system

Mixed election system.

9

Characteristics

  • Representation of all in the government
  • Executive head directly elected by the people
  • Governance system based on consensus
  • Ethnic and class representation.
  • Less authoritarian executive head
  • End of dual rule
  • Provision of recall
  • Control and balance among all state organs
  • Diversity can be addressed
  • Government always accountable to the legislature; so there is no chance of being authoritarian
  • More accountable government
  • No conflict of interest between the legislature and executive
  • Appropriate for the time when democracy is not institutionalized
  • Strong executive
  • Executive head directly elected by the people
  • Helpful to ensure stable politics and stable government
  • Inclusive representation
  • Members of legislature separated from the executive, can dedicate full time to formulate acts, laws and policy, ministers will not be constituency oriented
  • True separation of power

 

5. Public/subtle diplomacy Obstacles in formulating constitution and measures to resolve them
The issues of determination of state's form of governance, shape, number and ground for determination of provinces, distribution of means and resources have not been discussed seriously. In this context, a discussion program was organized on 22 September 2009 in Kathmandu to find way out to resolve the problems faced in the constitution making process and to ensure a fresh start among political parties by eliminating bitter relation among them. Total 38 participants including President of the CA Constitutional Committee Nilambar Acharya, former Speaker and civil society leader Damannath Dhungana, CPN-UML Standing Committee Member Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Central Committee Member of Nepali Congress and Convener of the then government negotiation team Krishna Sitaula, Secretary of the Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power, were present on the occasion. Conclusion of the program was – Major political parties must proceed with consensus and ownership in the constitution making process to give a new constitution to the country in the designated time. Political parties must accept the existence of each other. Constitution cannot be formulated with the politics of prohibition. The words and spirit of the past agreements should be followed strictly. The political parties should resolve their contradiction through consensus among themselves at a single forum rather than bringing it to the open place. Relationship between people and the parties will not be friendly and the constitution building and peace process shall not get momentum till the political parties go forward with agreement, collaboration and unity. The civil society should identify the uncomfortable situation in the constitution making process and play the role of facilitator.

Mandate of the high level political mechanism: Its role in the peace process and constitution making
Timely formulation of constitution and leading the peace process to a logical conclusion is possible through formation of high level political mechanism, FOHRID, FOPHUR and Joint Forum for Human Rights (JFHR) jointly organized an interaction with the civil society leaders and representatives of political parties on 30 October 2009 in Kathmandu. Civil society leader and Senior Advocate Daman Nath Dhungana presented his discussion paper entitled "Mandate of high level political mechanism: Its role in the peace process and constitution making." After presentation of the paper, representatives of the civil society and political parties expressed their views. UCPN-Maoist Spokesperson Dinanath Sharma, CPN-UML Standing Committee Member Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Rastriya Janashakti Party Co-Chairperson Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, Nepali Congress Central Committee Member and CA Member Ramesh Lekhak, Nepal Medical Association Chairman Dr. Kedar Narasingh K.C., participated the program as key speakers. There were altogether 53 participants in the program. Objective of the program was to identify the role of high level political mechanism for timely formulation of new constitution through agreement and collaboration by ending the heightened bitter relationship among political parties. The program outcome says that to resolve the current problem, the political parties must be committed in three issues - first, complying with rule of law; second, ending impunity; and third, accountability towards the people.

 

6. Accountability towards Constitution Making and Peace Process
The coalition government of the 22 political parties formed after the resignation of Maoist led government and the movement in the name of civic supremacy by the UCPN-Maoist created hurdles in the constitution making and peace process. Three years passed after signature on the CPA but individual interpretations of this document stirred the peace process and shadowed the constitution making process. People are worried about potential political accident when the political parties deviated from their primary responsibility. Considering the need to exert pressure to promulgate a new constitution within stipulated time and ensure fresh start after May end 2010, FOHRID, FOPHUR and CAHURAST jointly organized a discussion program on 26 November 2009 in Kathmandu.

Key speakers of the program expressed their opinion regarding constitution making and peace process. Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash', Vice Chairman of UCPN-Maoist, Yogesh Bhattarai, Central Committee Member of CPN-UML and Gururaj Ghimire, young leader of Nepali Congress expressed their views about measures to be taken by political parties to succeed constitution making and peace process. New constitution cannot be promulgated and the peace process cannot reach a logical end without consensus and collaboration, they opined, all should be accountable towards their commitments. On behalf of civil society, former Speaker Daman Nath Dhungana threw light on the roles to be played by the political parties for constitution making and peace process. In the program chaired by civil society leader Padma Ratna Tuladhar and facilitated by Raj Kumar Siwakoti. Altogether, 75 participants including representatives of political parties, civil society leaders, rights activists, lawyers, professors, representatives of occupational institutions, journalists participated the program.

Commitment and accountability of political parties towards constitution making and peace process
To conclude constitution making process and to lead the peace process to a logical end are the major responsibilities of the political parties. However, the widening gap between them has increased suspicion that a perfect constitution may not be formulated, and the peace process may be obstructed. The schedule of CA has been amended several times and the CPA, which is a guideline for peace process has become just a piece of paper. Interpretation of past agreements and accords by political parties in their own way increased uncertainty and invited threat and suspicion in the transitional political system. In this context, this program was organized to fulfil the need to carry out discussion on the commitments of political parties in the past, its implementation status and accountability on the past political commitments. Immediate objective of the program was "to exert pressure against political parties towards peace process and constitution making by reminding them of their commitments."

 

7. Inter-party interaction on New Constitution and State's Form of Governance
Determination of the form of governance is the fundamental issue for timely formulation of new constitution. But, the major political parties have not been able to determine appropriate form of governance for new Nepal. The presidential, parliamentary and mixed forms of governance are commonly practiced in many countries of the world. UCPN-Maoist has opted for the executive president directly elected from the people and no prime minister. CPN-UML wants directly elected prime minister and ceremonial president. Nepali Congress prefers executive prime minister and ceremonial president. Hence, the Committee faced difficulty to finalize its draft as the 3 major parties face 3 different directions. In this context, when the Committee was not able to submit its draft and the schedule of the CA was being amended time and again, it was felt necessary to create congenial environment to identify a common destination from within different views of the political parties. Considering this necessity, an interaction was organized by FOHRID, JFHR, CAHURAST and FOPHUR on 19 November 2009 in Kathmandu.

Determination of federal states and concepts of political parties
The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 has vowed to "end centralized and unitary framework of the state" and to ensure inclusive, democratic and progressive restructuring of the state. After the 5th amendment of the constitution, Article 138(1ka) reads, "Accepting the aspirations of indigenous ethnic groups and the people of the backward and other regions, and the people of Madhes, for autonomous provinces, Nepal shall be a Federal Democratic Republic. The provinces shall be autonomous with full rights. The Constituent Assembly shall determine the number, boundary, names and structures of autonomous provinces and distribution of power and resources, while maintaining the sovereignty, unity and integrity of Nepal."

We cannot refrain from federalism as the first meeting of the CA has declared Nepal as a Federal Democratic Republic. The CA has to finalize the issue of state restructuring in which determining federal states is a daunting task. The political parties representing in the CA do not have uniform concept about state restructuring. The number of states proposed by political parties and experts ranges from 3 to 800. Various political parties and experts have put forth that ethnicity, natural means and resources, common psychology, language and culture, geography, demography and geo-cultural sharing should be grounds for federalism. However, they have not been able to reach a conclusion on number of states. If they do not come to a consensus, and if the civil society does not mediate in this regard, the constitution making process may be obstructed in the point of determination of federal states. The Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power had not been able to submit its draft in the CA. In this context, this program was organized jointly by FOHRID, INSEC and NGO Federation Nepal to identify common destination out of diverse views of the political parties on state restructuring and determination of federal states.

 

8. Interaction between CPN-UML and civil society:
This program was organized at the time when the political parties representing in the CA were unable to develop political consensus on the key issues linked to ensuring new Nepal such as determination of federalism and form of governance. The CA Committee for State Restructuring and Division of State Power was unable to submit its draft to the CA. The political parties, on the one hand, were unable to reach consensus on the basic principles of constitution making; and on the other hand, the members of thematic committees were entangled with the feeling of win and loss rather than looking for a common destination. It is impossible to formulate a new constitution, if the political parties firmly remain in their own stand. It is necessary to determine a common destination among political parties to promulgate constitution in time. This program was organized to draw the concepts of political parties regarding causes hindering development of common destination among political parties and how we can go forward to seek a common way out among such differences. Program objective was "to play a facilitating role to reach a destination on determination of federalism and form of governance by conducting interaction between CPN-UML and civil society".

 

9. Interaction between Nepali Congress and civil society:
Gap among political parties was increasing on the ground of federalism, levels of government, naming and determination of area. The political parties failed to reach consensus in the fundamentals of constitution making as they struggled in the win and loss policy. In this context, an interaction program was organized on behalf of civil society to bring clarity among political parties and to develop consensus on the issues of federalism and form of governance. Objective of the program was "to derive the concept of Nepali Congress on the determination of form of governance and federalism and to facilitate on behalf of civil society to reach a common destination."

 

10. Interaction between Rastriya Jana Morcha, Churebhawar Rastriya Ekata Party, Rastriya Janamukti Party and civil society:
The political parties representing in the CA have their own individual concepts regarding determination of federalism and form of governance. There are concepts for 3 to 800 states regarding federalism. About form of governance, the models of presidential, parliamentary, mixed and directly elected prime minister are proposed. The largest party in the CA, the UCPN-Maoist declared republic states on its own. The political parties play the game of prohibition and confrontation rather than cooperation and consensus. The constitution making process cannot get momentum when the key issues of determination of federalism and form of governance are still undecided. At the time when the CA was obstructed through contention on the issues of determination of federalism and form of governance, it was felt necessary to find out the concepts of relatively small parties on these issues. Hence, this program was organized to hold an intensive discussion among small parties in the CA and the civil society on the key issues of constitution making. FOHRID organized this consultation program with Rastriya Jana Morcha, Chure Bhawar Rastriya Ekata Party, Rastriya Janamukti Party and experts on 18 December 2009 in Kathmandu to discuss with the civil society on the concept of those political parties on determination of federalism and form of governance.

Interaction between Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and civil society: Lack of consensus on the key issues of determination of federalism and form of governance is adding complexities. This hindered the achievement of New Nepal as envisaged by the Jana Andolan II. Considering the complexities on top of these issues, it was felt necessary to dig out the concepts of political parties on determination of federalism and form of governance to help in the constitution making process. Therefore, this program was organized with the objective "to derive the concept of relatively small parties in the CA regarding form of governance and determination of federalism" and "to determine role of civil society to facilitate in finding out a common destination among political parties on the issues of form of governance and determination of federalism."

Interaction between UCPN-Maoist and civil society: The political parties have controversy on the issue of determination of federalism. Effective utilization of natural resources has not been considered to determine federalism. The political parties are required to bring out their clear idea regarding ownership and distribution of natural resources while determining federal states. In this context, it is necessary to explore the reality about distribution of natural resources available in the country to sustain federalism. Therefore, this program was organized with the objective "to derive the concept of UCPN-Maoist regarding form of governance and determination of federalism" and "to determine role of civil society to facilitate in finding out a common destination among political parties on the issues of form of governance and determination of federalism."

 

11. Secretariat support, coordination and facilitation between key stakeholders:
FOHRID played the role of facilitation and coordination among the institutions working in collaboration with the ActionAid Nepal and MS Nepal to contribute in the constitution building and peace process. It played the role of Secretariat conducting advocacy at the central level based on the outcomes achieved through activities of the partner organizations. FOHRID facilitated and coordinated to remove hurdles on the complex subjects such as state restructuring through the Regular meeting of Forum for Democracy and State Restructuring.

Assessment of results

  • Through this action, FOHRID played the role of coordinator and facilitator among partner organizations of ActionAid Nepal / MS Nepal and other human rights organizations and civil society for timely formulation of new constitution. Through this action, FOHRID contributed to civil society mobilization. It provided Secretariat support to mobilize civil society for constitution building.
  • Intervention has been initiated in the complex issues of constitution building process. Attention of the general stakeholders was drawn towards resolving current problems through discussion on the basis of working papers on different issues such as determination of state's form of governance, federalism and constitution building, formation of high level political mechanism and its relevance and accountability of the political parties towards constitution building.
  • Mapping of the concepts of political parties regarding state restructuring and determination of form of governance was carried out. Discussions were conducted based on this mapping and the political parties were encouraged to resolve problems through consensus. Differences among political parties on the issues of state restructuring and form of governance were identified and pressure was exerted to the political parties to develop similar concept on these aspects. It helped political parties to determine common understanding on the issues of contention.
  • Regular meetings of the partner organizations of MS Nepal and ActionAid Nepal in the Kathmandu valley were conducted under Forum for Democracy and State Restructuring. This Forum was useful to analyze difficulties faced in the constitution making process.
  • Working papers were prepared and presented on 4 different themes under this action.
  • Mapping was accomplished in the state restructuring and form of state's governance. Strategy meeting, interparty interaction, separate meetings with political parties, lobbying, demonstration were implemented. Based on the activities accomplished, the project was successful to exert pressure for timely constitution building with consensus among key actors.

 

12. Democratic reform, institutionalization of inclusive democratic practice and strengthening political accountability in Nepal
FOHRID has been working on the issue of reform in democratic system and institutions for strengthening democracy. FOHRID keeps the view that the democratic institutions must be transparent and accountable for strengthening democracy. Likewise, FOHRID has been conducting interactions with the stakeholders on the issues of political inclusion of the marginalized community, e.g. representation in the parliament, leadership position in the political parties. People's equal participation in politics is necessary to ensure their involvement at the decision making level. FOHRID believes that all forms of political discrimination should be eliminated to promote equal political rights, fair enjoyment of right to franchise and treatment on the basis of equality. Political inclusion of the marginalized community is the only solution to resolve these problems.

 

13. Advocacy on political party reform agenda
Focus of FOHRID in this theme is on reform and restructuring of political parties for institutional development of inclusive democracy. Party reform is crucial for democratic reform, and this is necessary to make the politics dynamic and to promote accountable pluralistic democratic culture, norms and values. This is an appropriate time to bring the issue of political reform for public debate and interact with the political leadership in Nepal to make their performance accountable.

Programs of the political parties reflect and define social, economic and political transformation of a nation. The parties shoulder not only national level responsibilities but also play vital role in the social system. Nepalese political parties have demonstrated courage and capacity for political change. But, the continued political instability indicates that they lack necessary vision, skill and ability to govern, institutionalize and consolidate democratic process, seek institutional stability and cope up with development challenges. Weaknesses are entrenched as interparty conflicts and undemocratic practices, corruption, criminalization of politics, impunity, misuse of means and resources, lack of accountability and transparency continue unabated weakening the nation's democratic system. Parties largely fail to consolidate democracy as erosion of ideology, exclusion of people’s interest and internal factionalism remain as dominant trends of the party politics in Nepal. The scenario of equal and open participation of all people in political parties is not encouraging e.g. women’s inclusion at central level of the political parties is 28.7% in overall and 12.4% in executive committees (RSN:2009). Compliance to legal provisions and regulations on political financing is very weak. The income and expenditure reports are not maintained in a proper and transparent way. Political parties do not submit their reports to the Election Commission (EC) making it difficult to assess their reliability. Although the EC has set up limit on electoral expenses by any candidate, it has not established any monitoring and auditing mechanism to track the expenditures during the election (TIN: 2010). The UCPN-Maoist, the biggest party does not properly maintain its bank account. The political parties revolve around a circle of vested interests with party functionaries focusing their attention on the needs of particular groups. Political parties have revived the system of favourism, flattery and nepotism with politics administered between the power holders and the power brokers. Main cause for these problems is lack of intra/interparty democracy in the political parties. Accountable democratic practice is not promoted within the parties. Democratization of inner life of parties is the promising way to embrace a culture of inclusion, listening, deliberation and negotiation and a way out of the abyss of multi-layered conflicts in Nepal.

 

Constructive engagement in capacity building of NSA and constitutionalism:
FOHRID has constructive engagement in the constitution making process. FOHRID implemented a project entitled "Initiative for people's participation and ownership in the Constituent Assembly" in collaboration with Rural Self-Reliance Development Centre (RSDC) under the financial assistance from ESP/DFID. Under this project, FOHRID prepared an Advocacy / Training Manual to educate people on the CA. Several rounds of ToT and sensitization programs were held to prepare volunteers to work in favour of CA on the basis of the Manual. List of participants who directly benefited from this activity are presented in the following table:
 

Table 8: Participants in CA orientation program at local level

#

District

Particulars of Participants

Total

Male

Female

Dalit / MC

1.

Palpa

570

590

308

1160

2.

Makawanpur

659

493

425

1152

3.

Dhanusha

501

853

553

1354

       

Total

3666

 

The program was successful to sensitize people on the importance of CA. Discussions and sensitization programs were conducted among stakeholders on the concept, methodology and procedures of CA. Focus of this campaign was to advocate CA at the highest level and to create awareness among people and to sensitize them in favour of inclusive State with democratic system. After CA election, FOHRID conducted advocacy for constitution making process and promotion of constitutionalism. Through local and regional level interactions and consultation programs, FOHRID collected suggestions from the local level stakeholders to make recommendations to incorporate provision with retrospective effect in the offences relating to impunity and human rights violation and right to legal remedy in such incidents under right regarding criminal justice in the new constitution. Such suggestions were submitted to the Members and thematic committees of the CA. FOHRID conducted interactions on ESC rights and made submissions to the CA Committee on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. Discussions and interactions were conducted on the issues such as determination of federalism, governance system and judiciary under federalism.

 

15. Anti corruption campaign
FOHRID has been conducting seminar, interaction, symposium and discussion programs under anti-corruption campaign. Achievements of the popular democratic movement (People's Movement -II) of 2006 are shadowed by deeply rooted corruption. Corruption has led towards inefficiency of the political parties, increasing political criminalization, lack of good governance, transparency and accountability, political frustration and indifference. Traditional State mechanism has marginalized a significant number of people. Therefore, an intensive campaign is felt necessary to ensure good governance through combating corruption.

 

Press Release

Impunity aggravated by promotion of those alleged of serious human rights violation, failure to prosecute and case withdrawal in Nepal 11 October 2012, Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal government has failed to bring into justice system and prosecute those who are alleged of inv... Read more
International Justice Day-2012, FOHRID Urges Government of Nepal to ratify the Rome Statute of ICC 16 July, 2012, Kathmandu, Nepal Every year on 17 July the world celebrates International Justice Day (IJD) to commemorate the adoption ... Read more
Nepal: Criminalize torture and end impunity June 25, 2012, Kathmandu,Nepal We are observing June 26, 2012, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The expressio... Read more
Appeal for immediate accession/ratification of the OP-ICESCR by Nepal Government 07 May 2012 (2069 Baishakh 22), Kathmandu, Nepal Nepal Government should immediately accede/ratify to the Optional Protocol to the Inte... Read more
Nepal must strengthen prosecution against impunity 12 January 2013, Kathmandu, Nepal. UK authorities arrested Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama on 3rd January 2013 from Sussex for his alle... Read more
Appeal to Nepal government to become accountable to respect and protect people's right to life 28 January 2013, Kathmandu, Nepal   Similar to the previous years, people in terai faced severe cold wave this winter also, ... Read more

Internship

Please drop your cv and application on email below:
fohrid@wlink.com.np