The accessible and accountable provision of security and justice is one of the main requirements for a peaceful society and sustained social and economic development. Security provision and access to justice are regarded as essential public services, are fundamental building blocks in promoting good governance, and are critical for the creation of a secure environment at both the local and national level.
In the wake of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and the Arms Monitoring Agreement, and in the run up to the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections on 10th April 2008, there have been ongoing discussions in Kathmandu on security and justice issues (sometimes termed security sector reform, or SSR). These discussions have covered issues such as police effectiveness, civilian oversight of the army and the legal framework of the security sector as a whole. More contentious questions concerned the “right” size of the Nepal Army, the integration of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the Nepal Army and how to engage with the increasing number of militant youth groups.
The newly elected CA have committed to convening an Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) and to addressing many of these issues. However, for improvements in security and justice to be sustained in the long term, any changes in this sector need to be considered and discussed right across Nepal. On the one hand, institutions and processes in Kathmandu will benefit from more information about security challenges and needs at the local level. On the other hand, people in districts will gain from having better access to information about Kathmandu policy and programming discussions. Equipped with a better understanding of the kind of pressures and limitations placed on security and justice personnel at the local and national level, people will be more likely to support processes of change and can help drive through that transformation.
This short briefing is based on discussions and interviews held in Dhangadhi, Kailali district in February 2008. The contents were subsequently verified with interviewees and updated after follow-up trips in June and August 2008, which included interviews in Urma Village Development Committee (VDC) and Tikapur municipality.