Category Archives: Nepal

Maoist Chairman Prachanda presents “Everest Summit Award” to IPJ

TODAY’S YOUTH ASIA

NEWS RELEASE
25th May, 2008

Maoist Chairman Prachanda presents “Everest Summit Award” to IPJ

Dr. Dee Aker on behalf of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies received the “Everest Summit Award” on 25th May, 2008 by Maoists Chairman Prachanda in Kathmandu, organized by Today’s Youth Asia (TYA).
Associate Editor of Today’s Youth Asia magazine, Ayusha Nirola said, “Today’s Youth Asia in Nepal launched this humanitarian award to recognize those international figures who have been successful in bringing about a constructive positive reform in the society, to benefit global humanity through their tireless contribution to humanitarian works, peace, education and media.”

Chief Guest at this award ceremony, Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that he welcomed the participation of the international community in the development process of Nepal. He also congratulated Institute for Peace & Justice and said, “I am convinced that our next generation will contribute to Nepal’s progress and development and the Everest Summit Award is the first step towards achieving that positive identity worldwide.”

Santosh Shah, the Publisher & Editor of Today’s Youth Asia magazine and the Director of the Everest Summit Award stated that, “Despite several shortcomings of Nepal’s politics and developments, TYA is making an effort to create at least some young leaders who can serve Nepal in various technical fields. Institute for Peace & Justice has contributed to the peace and justice of several conflict-ridden nations worldwide. We are impressed with their practical approach and innovative and effective methods.”

The recipient of the award Dr. Dee Aker said, “In our work around the world, perhaps it is the inspiration and dedication of the women peacemakers and commitment of youth that teaches us the most about the essentials in peace building.” She also said, “People want to cultivate a new respect for diversity while working for inclusion of voices and the profound rights of citizens. We hope to support you in the creation of a truly inclusive, democratic and just state.”Everest Summit Award was launched as an international award from Nepal in February 2008 and the first award was offered to Ms Aram Hur & Indigo Sowon of South Korea.
For further information:
Santosh Shah, Editor & Publisher, Today’s Youth Asia Magazine.
Mobile: 98510-91562.

youthmag@wlink.com.np

Additional News Coverage:

http://broadband.indiatimes.com/videoshow/3079894.cms

http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/detail.php?article_id=923&cat_id=8

http://www.sandiego.edu/insideusd/?p=317

The Power of Negotiations

Saturday, May 24, 2008

As Nepal passes through this crucial transition, it provides an opportunity to look back, build on past experiences and plan for what is needed on the path towards greater democracy and freedom.

The Power of Negotiation: Constructive Communication Techniques” is an extension of the negotiation, conflict management and communication skills building programs, which have been conducted with Nepali senior and emerging political leaders, civil society spokespersons and women representatives since 2003.

Through international case studies and exercises, 37 participants of the CPN-M party, including constituent assembly representatives, central committee members and leadership of the women’s and students’ association, examined how negotiation and communication provide methods to transform violent struggles and address conflict. It provided an introduction to relevant skills to a new community of leaders committed to a new democracy. The program encouraged each participant to reflect on personal resources for getting beyond confrontation and on the path to solutions.

Gender Power

Thursday, May 22, 2008

At 8 a.m. we gathered in the SAP-Nepal offices, reunited with Naresh Phuyal, our interpreter from 2005-2006, Anil and Niraj Khanal, the SAP-Nepal staff who had been instrumental in arranging the logistics and outreach for the two Kathmandu workshops. A flurry of printing and photocopying, and we were ready when the first participants arrived at 9:30 a.m.

Sixteen women from 4 parties participated in the day-long participatory workshop, “Gender Power: Activating a Common Agenda.” Aker and Taylor were welcomed by the experienced politicians of the Inter-Party Women’s Alliance (IPWA), a consortium of women from the major parties who invited the IPJ to convene this workshop, as well as newcomers from the recently formed Madhesis People’s Rights Forum (MJF). In the shifting political landscape leading up to the constituent assembly (CA) elections, the MJF emerged as the major party representing the historically marginalized southern Terai region, and earned a comparable seats to the past leading parties of Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist Lenin (CPN-ML).

“It is a pleasure to welcome back Dee and Laura, you are like a family member in Nepal” Prativa Rana, Central Committee, RPP, former chair of IPWA

The workshop “Gender Power: Activating a Common Agenda” encouraged new leaders to find the common agenda of women from diverse experiences and help in developing a common “language” to build support for and advance common concerns. The Election Commission called for greater representation of women and how it is time for women to consider the constituencies they represent by gender as well as party. Through exercises and case studies, participants’ examined common challenges and strategies to address them when women come to power.

The program is a continuation of the IPJ Nepal Project which has been conducted with Nepali senior and emerging political leaders, civil society spokespersons, and women representatives since 2003. Programs are designed to enhance personal skills, build broader constituencies for democratic participation, and establish collaborations to address root causes and consequences of conflict.

After Taylor provided a brief review of the impact of the Women, Politics and Peace Working for a Just Society series over the past three years, Aker share a case study of Uganda. Illuminating how women were able to get gender on the agenda for the constitution, Aker described the process, product and impact of the women’s movement on democratic change in Uganda. “Women decided that if a new constitution was going to be written, they would have to go out and make sure that everybody, understood what a government was supposed to and what a constitution could do.” The Ugandan women’s movement led the educational campaigns about constituent assemblies, as well we efforts to collect the voices of people to inform the new document. Through multiple means, e.g., radio, print, TV, etc., the women said, “We are going to be the bridges, the voices from the people, to the political leaders.”

“We are going to be the bridges, the voices from the people, to the political leaders.”

In the next exercise, the participants worked in small groups to use the analytic framework for understanding the conflict in Uganda, to adapt and apply to understand the current transition in Nepal. “We haven’t felt security in Nepal,” shared one of the participants, however, we hope the constitution will “help to build a successful nation.” “The role played by civil society organizations can be further strengthened to make a good constitution,” another participant added. Key issues across the small groups discussions were insecurity, mechanisms to implement necessary legislation, the dissemination of information to the people, transparency, the commitment of the political parties, honesty of the part of the government, and free and strong fair judiciary. One participant concluded, “We are thankful for what you bring, I had no idea about Uganda until now. We will do our best to bring this information to our parties.”

After common priorities emerged during the previous exercise, Taylor shared some key consultation mechanisms to channel constituents’ voices to policymakers. Constitution-making is a “deliberative” process. Interim agreements, like the one Nepali leaders forged in 2006, help society to establish basic clarify basic legal rules and provide sufficient change from past root causes of conflict. A constitutional committee can help reframe a constitution from a “contract” to a “conversation” and carry out three key phases: civic education, popular consultation and synthesis of multiple contributions and submissions. This methodology helps increase public participation and promote an ownership model of civic engagement.

Through a media simulation, participants practiced asking local constituents about their interest and ideas for a new constitution based on the strengths and weaknesses of the 1990 constitution and the 2006 interim constitution, and summarized key points in 3 sentences. They brainstormed mechanisms to share this synthesis, including more traditional channels such as radio and television, but also SMS (cell phone texting) and local suggestion boxes at throughout VDCs.

Constitution-making processes can be transformation if given adequate resources and time to include a multitude of voices and perspectives. Public participation increases local ownership as well as the legitimacy of the final product. With wider societal support, it is more likely the impact of the constitution will be inclusive and empowering in light of the root causes of conflict.

Bandh greets us in Kathmandu

After over 30 hours of travel on three planes, we landed in Kathmandu to a shockingly quiet airport. Outside, the official taxi prices were doubled because of the bandh (strike), and there were only a few faces lining the window waiting for the arrival of our flight. Finally, Anil Khanal, one of our partners at South Asia Partnerships-Nepal (SAP-Nepal) emerged on his bike through the thin crowd of men offering us taxi rides. Anil explained that the entire city was shut down to protest the Maoists’ alleged abduction, torture and killing of the businessman Ram Hari Shrestha.

We were the last two people stacked into the tourist bus, whose front was covered with a bright blue banner labeling it as such so as to avoid confrontation who those calling the bandh. The eyes of the young police woman at the front of the bus confirmed the severity of the situation as we slowly passed an 8-foot fire fueled by tires in New Baneshwor. Dozens of young men tended the flame.

Arriving without incident, however, the tourist bus made three stops and finally dropped us at the Malla Hotel. We were greeted by the familiar faces of staff at the hotel we have come to call home over the past years, and a number of messages from our friends and colleagues who had planned to met us at the airport and were unable to because of the travel-ban. Unable to leave the hotel, we re-scheduled our afternoon meetings, and set to work finalizing our plans for tomorrow’s workshop with the Inter-Party Women’s Alliance.

To read a news article and see photos of the bandh, go to: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jWYd6Uuf_xj-8STdmYDRwjKbUXfw

“Uniting for a Democratic Peace” – IPJ Nepal Project – May 19-31, 2008

As the puzzle pieces of Nepal’s fragile transition to peace continue to shift, the IPJ team will return to analyze and take advantage of current windows of opportunities to infuse justice and inclusive participation into local and national processes.

Aker and Taylor pose with rural participants in the Baglung district On April 10, two years after the major political parties and the people of Nepal boycotted the municipal elections ordered by King Gyanendra in Feb. 2006, citizens turned out in historic numbers to take democracy into their own hands – and take their opinions to the ballot box. Sixty percent of the 17.6 million registered voters (of a population of 27 million) have cast their vote – electing a peaceful political transition.

Dee Aker, Interim Executive Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ), served as a short-term observer with The Carter Center’s international election observation mission in Nepal. The Carter Center advised: “the election in Nepal [is] a critical step for the consolidation of multi-party democracy…. The Government of Nepal, including the CPN-M [Community Party of Nepal- Maoists], have welcomed international delegations and have specifically extended an invitation to The Carter Center, together with other international and domestic observers. The Election Commission and other stakeholders have also welcomed this involvement.”

In global politics, however, the measure of democracy is too often reduced to the success on election day alone. The hard work and preparation that created the foundation for elections is often overlooked and, in the wake of polling, campaign promises remain frequently unfulfilled. As international and media attention fades after votes have been counted, the Nepali people are left to build a peaceful, democratic society, a task of Himalayan proportions following a decade of war waged by the CPN-M that took 13,000 lives.

Thus, the IPJ team of Aker and Laura Taylor, Senior Program Officer, will return in May to continue the next stage in the IPJ Nepal Project, “Uniting for a Democratic Peace.” Building on the previous seven years of partnership with Nepal, this series of workshops and consultations with the newly elected members of the constituent assembly will foster political leaders’ partnership with civil society – particularly women and youth – to manage expectations and prepare the population for inclusive public participation and responsive governance, two pillars of democracy.

For more information on the IPJ Nepal Project, visit: http://peace.sandiego.edu/programs/nepal.html