International Alert has been working in support of peace in Nepal since 1999. Our work focuses on supporting national and international actors to build long-term conditions for sustainable peace in Nepal. In particular, we seek to:
Improve the provision and accessibility of security and justice to the poor and marginalised. Poor public security and weak rule of law mean that many people in Nepal are unable to go about their daily lives in freedom from fear. Insecurity also impacts upon economic development, as many business people are unwilling to invest leading to fewer jobs for those who need them.
Promote more equitable economic opportunities. Public expectations of what peace will deliver in Nepal are high and often related to economic needs. However, if peace is to be sustainable, economic opportunities need to be broadly shared by all. Greater inequality risks more conflict.
Improve the ability of international institutions to deliver aid effectively. With nearly 20% of the national budget coming from foreign aid, the international community plays an important role in Nepal’s future development. We work to ensure that this role promotes peace and does not unintentionally fuel conflict.
- The civil society consortium for security and justice: We lead a consortium of national and international NGOs that advocate for improved justice and security;
- Broadcasting peace: Together with our partner organisations, Equal Access Nepal and Antenna Foundation Nepal, we support the broadcasting of radio programmes that raise nationwide awareness of security and justice reform debates happening in Kathmandu;
- Training in conflict sensitive approaches: We provide tailored training to international institutions, government agencies and our civil society partners that provide them with the skills and tools to be able to design and implement projects that are sensitive to the conflict context;
- Income generation for peacebuilding: We provide income generation opportunities to marginalised women in the Terai region and work to ensure that economic empowerment results in political and social empowerment;
- Business for Peace: We work with our partner organisation, the National Business Initiative, to promote greater private sector involvement in building peace.
Our office is based in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Our geographic focus is primarily on the Terai region of Nepal. Currently we work with partners in the following districts outside of Kathmandu: Banke, Bara, Bardiya, Bhaktapur, Dang, Jumla, Kailali, Lalitpur, Mahottari, Makwanpur, Morang, Rasuwa, Rukum, Parsa and Sunsari.
The conflict between the Maoists and the Government of Nepal ended with the signing of a peace agreement in November 2006. After sixteen years of failed democracy and ten years of violent conflict, Nepal is now facing significant challenges in moving the peace process forward.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) declared a People’s War in February 1996. The Maoists were able to mobilise a mass support base due to high levels of public frustration at the perceived failure of mainstream political parties to deliver economic development and address inequalities.
Citing the failure of the government to bring the escalating conflict under control, the then King stepped in and called a state of emergency which brought the army into the conflict in 2002. The resulting escalation of violence culminated in a ‘royal takeover’ of the state in February 2005. This mobilised widespread public anger against the autocratic monarchy which lead to a large-scale protest movement in April 2006. The movement succeeded in reinstating democracy and was swiftly followed by the signing of a peace agreement and the establishment of an interim Government. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held successfully in April 2008, resulting in Nepal’s most inclusive parliament ever.
Three years on, the peace process is holding; however progress on key decisions is being hampered by political party in-fighting. Insecurity, particularly in the Terai region, has escalated since 2006 with the emergence of numerous armed groups taking advantage of the security vacuum. The economy has been the hardest hit, with many businesses scaling down and development projects affected.
Creating the conditions for equitable economic growth, including establishing basic rule of law and security, along with keeping the political level peace process on track are the major priorities for actors working in support of peace in Nepal.
We use a variety of methods and tools in supporting both local and international actors to build peace in Nepal.
A major part of our work involves building trust and understanding. We bring a diverse set of actors together at both the local and national levels to discuss the root causes of conflicts and agree upon solutions. This includes bringing local communities and police together to identify and address causes of insecurity. It involves bringing international actors together with local counterparts to prioritise and coordinate support for improved security and justice. It also includes bringing actors within the private sector together to exchange ideas on ways in which the private sector can support sustainable peace in Nepal.
Research and advocacy:
Over the years, we have sought to understand the root causes of conflict in Nepal as well as the blockages to and opportunities for addressing them. This includes understanding the diversity of needs and experiences regarding the provision of accessible and accountable security and justice and exploring opportunities for ensuring that economic growth supports sustainable peace. We work with local and international partners to advocate at the national and international levels for the policy changes required to support sustainable peace.
Training and accompaniment:
We work with civil society, the government, the private sector and the international community at both the local and national levels to strengthen their ability to build peace. This involves providing training and ongoing accompaniment on conflict sensitivity and a range of peacebuilding issues, such as security sector reform, gender and peacebuilding and the economic dimensions of peacebuilding. We work with local partner organisations in all that we do, ensuring that the Nepali peace process remains locally owned.
We believe that key prerequisites for sustainable peace in Nepal are: a population that feels safe and is able to access fair and accountable security and justice services; and broadly shared economic opportunities that deliver tangible benefits to those who most need them. We also believe that sustainable peace needs to be locally owned and supported and we therefore work to ensure that local capacities for peace exist among a diverse group of stakeholders. Finally, we believe it is important that safe space exists for these stakeholders to come together to understand the root causes of conflict and to identify and implement solutions. We therefore work to create this safe dialogue space.