Consolidating peace. Nepali constitution-making

A Filipino peace practitioner’s perspective

A critical phase in consolidating peace in Nepal involves the drafting of a Constitution that tackles the underlying issues of the armed conflict which erupted in the mid-nineties, while addressing the aspirations of the popular movement that resulted in the 2006 political upheaval.

The signing of a locally-initiated, comprehensive peace agreement in 2006 marked a defining moment in Nepal’s history. Drafting a new constitution would be a decisive turning point in the country’s path to peace. If and when a constitution is produced, the Nepali people can truly become the co-authors of the basic charter of the land and the architects of their own destiny.

From the perspective of a Filipino peace practitioner who served as a member of the Constitutional Commission which helped draft the 1987 Philippines Constitution, there are a number of pertinent lessons to be drawn from the Philippines experience of constitution-making.

International Alert’s August 2008 mission to Nepal sought to share these experiences, and to learn from the reflections of a diverse range of actors in Nepal. This included debate and reflections from Constitutional Assembly members, constitutional experts, political party and government representatives, international organisations and diverse range of civil society thinkers and activists.

No two conflict contexts are alike, but certain similarities between Nepal and the Philippines stand out that enable learning and sharing to take place, thereby advancing reflective practice. Three interrelated themes salient to the current challenge of Constitution-making in Nepal stand out in particular: peace, process and people.