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

Project description

Title: Building capacity and networks among peace actors in the context of dealing with the past
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Nepal
Overall term: 2008 to 2017

CPS Nepal. Dealing with the past and promoting peaceful coexistence: Forum Theatre work. © GIZ

Context

Nepalese society is marked by a high degree of structural violence. Poverty, social exclusion, injustice and state structures that fail to protect the rights of citizens gave rise to political instability, which in the mid 1990s erupted into violent conflict.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006 introduced some fundamental democratic processes, central to which was the adoption of a new constitution. This was passed with 80 per cent of the constituent assembly vote and put into force in September 2015. However, the Madeshis, who live predominantly in the south of Nepal along the Indian border, did not feel that the new constitution considered their rights and interests to a sufficient degree. To coerce the Government into making changes they organised protests and border blockades. Some of these were violent, even causing fatalities. As a result of the protests, the import of vital goods from India virtually ceased.

The constitution was amended in January 2016. It now allows for proportional inclusivity in all Government structures – one of the core demands of the Madeshi parties. Further protests, which will take place in Kathmandu, have now been announced to campaign for the implementation of further demands.

Nepal therefore remains in a persistently fragile phase of peace consolidation. The rule of law is still ineffective: to date, not a single war crime has been brought before a criminal tribunal. Large sectors of the population are still deprived of their most basic economic, social and cultural rights. Social status is still largely determined by caste, gender and ethnicity. Although commissions have been set up to investigate human rights abuses committed during the civil war, it remains to be seen whether they will successfully implement their mandate.

The situation was further complicated by the severe earthquakes in April and May 2015, which made it more difficult to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. There were over 400 aftershocks in the twelve months following the earthquakes. The earthquakes themselves killed approximately 9,000 people, and destroyed half a million residential buildings as well as much of the social and transport infrastructure. Many people lost their livelihoods and are now struggling to survive. Since the earthquake, there have been many vociferous complaints in the media about inadequate and/or wrongly distributed relief supplies.

To repair the damage caused by the earthquakes as quickly as possible, the Nepalese Government had announced its intention to set up its own National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). The NRA’s organisational chart and strategy have now been published, but hardly any work has been done in the affected areas. Very little of the approximately USD 4 billion promised by international donors has so far been paid.

Objective

Local structures and opportunities for dialogue are established and contribute increasingly to non-violent transformation of social conflict. Dealing with the past and structuring reconciliation are topics of discussion among the Nepalese population. In the long term, Nepalese society thus finds a way to process the legacy of the past and develop a positive outlook for the future.

CPS Nepal. Dealing with the past and promoting peaceful coexistence: Forum Theatre work. © GIZ

Approach

CPS promotes constructive non-violent conflict transformation and the systematic building of capacity and networks among local, regional and national peace actors. In particular, it supports and provides training for local actors, non-governmental organisations and government institutions in the fields of civil conflict transformation, ascertaining the truth and reconciliation. In so doing, the project focuses on marginalised areas outside the metropolitan region of Kathmandu and involves local village populations and communities that are dominated by serious conflict. Victims’ associations are helped with documenting their concerns professionally and bringing them into the public debate. In this way they also contribute to the truth process.

Development of local peace structures and dialogue forums serves to foster communication among various interest groups and political representatives. Increasingly they use these opportunities to work together to resolve social conflicts and for dialogue about the past and reconciliation. At the same time, this approach relieves the workload on state agencies and boosts people’s confidence in local structures.

Results

  • Multipliers trained in methods of civil conflict transformation apply the skills they have acquired to their communities and in so doing contribute to the peaceful transformation of local conflicts. Today former adversaries work together within their communities.
  • Employees of civil society and state organisations trained in civil conflict transformation bring their knowledge to planning and implementing activities organised by their respective organisations.
  • Nepalese non-governmental organisations in particular are strengthened in their capacity to promote non-violent transformation of individual, social and political conflict.
  • The Forum Theatre methodology (after Augusto Boal) is practised by and in demand from various groups throughout the country and helps people to question their individual ways of thinking and prejudices and eliminate forms of discrimination.