Nepal at a crossroads

The nexus between human security and renewed conflict in rural Nepal

One key weakness of the current peace process in Nepal is the failure to address diverse and complex security needs at the local level, while focusing instead on the issues of national security over community security, and physical security over human security. The peace process has therefore failed to address a fundamental underlying cause of the conflict - the ingrained culture of exclusivity that characterises every arena of public life in Nepal and which perpetuates the insecurity of many vulnerable and marginalised groups. Instead, a struggle for power at the expense of the needs of the majority of the population has generated the conditions within which long-standing grievances have festered threatening to re-emerge in ever more aggressive forms. The most immediate example of this issue is the emergence of violent conflict in the Terai region. Notwithstanding the serious conflict in the Terai, the potential for communal violence throughout Nepal among marginalized caste, ethnic, linguistic and regional groups and communities remains high in the post-settlement context. Further, the complex and diverse economic, political and social dimensions to security cut across ethnic, caste, class and gender lines in Nepal and the inter-linkages are currently little understood. Thus, the provision of local security is one of the main requirements for a peaceful society and sustained social and economic development.

In recognition of this urgent need for an understanding of community security needs and perceptions, Friends for Peace and International Alert undertook research in Morang, Makawanpur, Kailali and Jumla to assess the existing community security situation, people’s perceptions towards it and prospects for the future. The research was based on individual and group interviews and wider community interactions and was led by the communities themselves. Community security is therefore defined in this document as a holistic concept that encompasses not only physical security but inter alia access to resources, equitable rights to economic and socio-political inclusion and freedom from intimidation, discrimination, extortion and domestic violence.