Civil Peace Service: Building capacity and networks among peace actors in the context of dealing with the past

Project description

Title: Civil Peace Service: Systematic strengthening and networking of local and national peace potentials in the post-war phase
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Nepal
Overall term: 2008 to 2021

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Context

Nepalese society is characterised by a relatively high level of structural violence, with poverty, social exclusion and injustice, as well as state structures that inadequately protect people’s rights. In 1996, the ‘People’s War’ was declared by a small communist party. The Maoist movement gained momentum over the next five years, particularly in rural areas. In 2001, the Nepalese Government mobilised the army to fight against this movement. 

The peace agreement was signed in 2006 between the Maoist and political parties and represented a ‘roadmap’ for the transition to peace. Central to this was the adoption of a new constitution in September 2015, directly after two major earthquakes in the same year. Yet the constitution of some groups remains controversial; these groups consider that their rights and interests have been insufficiently taken into account. 

At the same time, the country began its path to decentralisation and a federal government over the last decade. In 2017, elections were held for the federal structure. The first local election in 20 years enabled elected local representatives to begin operations. The election at national and provincial level took place at the end of 2017. It is not yet clear as to whether the federalisation process will lead to more peace and stability or bring new imbalances.

The risk of violence remains real, as inequalities and discrimination persist in a highly politicised public space. 

Objective

There are structures established that offer space for people to deal with conflicts of a fragmented society in a non-violent manner. Groups of victims and survivors have documented their cases and come to terms with the past. 

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Approach

The Civil Peace Service (CPS) promotes constructive, non-violent conflict management in Nepal. It also supports and connects peace actors across the country. This is achieved by supporting community mediation, dialogue forums, non-violent communication and theatre for conflict transformation. Furthermore, local representatives, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government institutions in particular are receiving training in the areas of civil conflict transformation and dealing with the past. 

The CPS works with local actors to foster holistic approaches for coming to terms with the past, justice, reconciliation and healing. This supports victims of the civil war (1996–2006) in receiving accountability and answers from formal mechanisms of transitional justice. The CPS also assists in processes for local remembrance work. For example, it has brought together communities that have been affected by conflict using theatre groups. This creates space to work on issues of the past in a wider public arena.

Results

  • Actors who promote and carry out dialogue work in Nepal are better connected regionally and nationally and share success stories on a regular basis.
  • Local political leaders have an improved understanding of their roles in the new local judicial system. They use and encourage the application of non-violent communication and mediation in their communities.
  • Local community mediators and dialogue facilitators have received training and utilise their skills to contribute towards non-violent solutions to local conflicts.
  • Survivors who have been left disabled in the ten-year conflict have been able to share their personal stories in safe spaces, thus initiating inner healing processes. They have made their cases public and, as a result, contributed to the political visibility of persons with disabilities. Their stories have been published and have been seen and heard by over 2,000 people in eight of Nepal’s districts.
  • More than 600 victims of the conflict and their suffering have been recognised by local governments in public remembrance events. This opens up opportunities for compensation, acknowledgement, healing and reconciliation at local level. 
  • The ‘Nepal International Theatre Festival – Theatre for Social Transformation’ in Kathmandu and in three other Nepalese cities has been able to reach more than 10,000 spectators and senior politicians with its 27 pieces. Theatre creators and audiences have recognised the importance of addressing socio-politically relevant issues through art and preserving their own culture in these pieces. 

Further Information