Voices from the villages: Peoples' agendas for peace
This report reviews how the failure of Nepal’s nascent peace process to address the diverse peace needs of marginalised and excluded communities at the grassroots level threatens to undermine possibilities for long-term sustainable peace in the country.
Nepalese society has long been characterised by multiple forms of exclusion, divided along fault lines of, inter alia, ethnicity, caste, gender and economic status. Exclusion, in its multifarious forms, is widely recognised to be a major contributing factor to the past decade of conflict in Nepal. The April 2006 Jana Andolan (People’s Movement) and subsequent signing of a Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between the CPN (M) and the Government of Nepal in November later that year, have provided the space within which long-standing grievances contributing to conflict may be addressed and significant steps towards development and long-term peace may be taken.
However, the Nepali peace process remains an exclusive affair with major decisions being taken behind closed doors and with little consultation. Government policy regarding minority rights and issues pertaining to marginalised groups remains insufficient. An example of the impacts of such a policy can be seen in the escalation of tensions within the Madhesi community in the Terai region, culminating in outbreaks of violence and unrest which the government has thus far been unable to address.
Building sustainable peace in Nepal requires, first and foremost, that attitudes in Kathmandu are changed to recognise the value and importance of substantive information based upon the needs and experiences of local communities in Nepal. Only then will any government or international-led attempt at community-level peacebuilding be successful.