Fragile Nepal and Upcoming Opportunities
Peace and stability in Nepal has remained fragile for long periods. The absence of political mechanisms to guide needed reforms, extreme low levels of trust and commitment to power sharing, lack of public dialogue on the issues of state restructuring, weak law and order throughout the country. Even after the end of the conflict and signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006, the focus has always been more on political transition and less on economic transition for a more equitable growth. On top of that, Nepal’s diverse demography composed of over 100 ethnic communities, complex caste and ethnic structure; social exclusion and political instability continue to remain the most critical challenge to development.
Despite promises of reform, concern for victims from the war era has been inconsistent. The aid that was/is relocated to the victim and victim’s family is not reached to them either from the 1996-2006 civil war or just the April and May 2015 Earthquake victims. Yet this has been weakened by political manipulation and the lack of effective oversight of fund distribution. For relatives of more than 1,000 still missing, distress, frustration and a sense of betrayal have grown for decades with lack of accountability for serious human rights violations and war crimes committed during the civil war. Political parties have shown no interest in dealing with the past crimes. Indeed, they have exploited the lack of accountability to avoid reining in the unlawful activities of their own activists and to justify regular interference in the criminal justice system. This had left a demoralised, ineffective, and increasingly desperate police force to confront growing insecurity and small yet still dangerous local, regional and ethnic struggles.
The growing number of unemployment have caused distressed among the youth leading over 1500 youths to go on foreign employment every day and others resorting to crime. The weak governance and public service delivery has affected the planning, implementation and monitoring of local development activities along with people’s perception of local institutions, funds accountability, effectiveness of local development funds, and political capture of development programs.
Given Nepal’s situation, it is very important that the government makes attempts to identify key drivers of conflict and make approaches to make country strategies and program planning. The constant political instability and uncertainty, fragile economic outlook, the state’s continued inability to establish law and order, the criminalization of politics, and the persistence of youth unemployment have all been cited as causes of the re-emergence and flourishing of armed and criminal groups.
This year, millions of Nepalese voted in the second phase of the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections, more than a decade after the end of Maoist insurgency hoping for a long political stability in the country. The alliance of the two leftists parties-the communist UML and Maoist Center UML have an immense opportunity to overtake frustration of million youths in the country. This time both the Government and donors should be working to launch relevant plans and policies that will encourage peace, development, and youth centered programming. There is a need to ensure that young people receive effective support, are given pathways to employment, and are given opportunities for constructive social interaction to ensure their inclusion in post-conflict Nepal.
Ankit Khanal is Programme Manager at Community Solutions Initiative-Nepal