|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6119th Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL STATEMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN AT CURRENT POLITICAL CRISIS IN NEPAL,
URGES PARTIES TO WORK TOGETHER IN ‘SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE’ ON PEACE PROCESS
New UN Representative Says Latest Report ‘Guardedly Positive’, But Deeply
Polarizing Political Standoff Culminated in Prime Minister’s 4 May Resignation
The Security Council today expressed its concern over the current political crisis in Nepal and underscored the urgent need for the Nepalese Government and all political parties to continue to work together in the spirit of compromise.
In a statement read by Council President Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation) at the end of today’s debate on the situation in Nepal, the Council, noting the steps taken so far to implement the peace process, reaffirmed its full support for that process and the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), and called upon the Government of Nepal to continue to make the necessary decisions to create conditions conducive for completing UNMIN’s activities by the end of the current mandate [23 July], including through the work of the Special and Technical Committees for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army combatants.
Recalling the Government’s commitment to discharge minors from the cantonment sites, the Council called upon it to implement that commitment in accordance with international law.
Karin Landgren, Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIN, who was appointed on 3 February and briefed the Council for the first time, called for an inclusive, concerted and well-managed consultative process to achieve the important work of drafting a new Constitution and integrating verified Maoist army combatants into the security forces or rehabilitation. The high-level, multi-party monitoring mechanism envisaged in the peace agreements should also be formed. Acrimony existed among Nepal’s main political actors, she said, calling on them to urgently take steps to rebuild trust and work together in a spirit of compromise and consensus in the coming weeks and months to protect and build on current political gains.
“Unfulfilled commitments are the Achilles heel of the peace process, and threaten the peace dividend that the people of Nepal expect and so richly deserve,” she said. The Secretary-General’s 24 April report on the subject described progress as “not insignificant” and the report’s tone was “guardedly positive”. It lauded the Nepalese Government’s steps to resolve the continued existence of two armies and discharge some 4,000 disqualified Maoist army personnel; the recent revival of long-dormant Government bodies, such as the Constitutional Council and the National Security Council; and Constituent Assembly by-elections in April in six constituencies, in a relatively peaceful and orderly atmosphere.
But, in a televised address to the nation on 4 May, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” had resigned in a power struggle over his 3 May dismissal of the Army Chief, she continued. The resignation had brought the deeply polarized standoff between the Nepal Army and the leader of the governing coalition -- the Unified Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist (UCPN-M) -- to a head. In the short term, there was a risk of paralysis, protracted negotiations to form a new Government and a stalling of preparations to integrate Maoist combatants. In the long term, it could have serious implications for the functioning of the Government and the nature of the State to be shaped by Nepal’s next Constitution.
The current concerns were indeed acute, she said, stressing the need for UNMIN to continue to provide technical support to the Special Committee mandated by the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and article 146 of the Interim Constitution to oversee the Maoist combatant integration and rehabilitation process. Resolving that issue would entail difficult political negotiations, as frustration among Maoist army personnel, who had been in cantonments for two years, was high. There was also a risk that the discharge of minors was becoming a low priority. While the peace process had focused thus far on security issues, it should be attentive to the rights and interests of traditionally marginalized groups, whose input should be sought in drafting the new Constitution.
Nepal’s representative expressed confidence that the peace process would stay on course and that the current situation would be resolved soon through dialogue and consensus among the Constituent Assembly’s political parties in the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Nepalese people were eager to see how their concerns would be reflected in the constitution-making process, once the Constituent Assembly put forward a draft Constitution for a final round of consultations among the people. The Army Integration Special Committee and its Technical Committee were also at work, as were efforts to discharge minors from the Maoist army. The Government was determined to fulfil its obligations in that regard and to allow UNMIN to carry out its functions by the end of its current mandate.
Council members expressed concern over the recent developments on the ground and called on all parties to resolve the current impasse through dialogue and consensus. Several said that the Council must closely monitor and objectively assess the situation as it considered extending UNMIN’s mandate. Turkey’s representative said the Mission’s efforts must focus on helping Nepal to overcome the crisis and move forward, and that discussions on a possible exit strategy for UNMIN were premature. The United States representative stressed that the Prime Minister’s resignation must not be allowed to create a political vacuum and that the formation of new Government must not drag on for months. She urged UCPN-M to stay active in the Constituent Assembly and other bodies and to renounce all violence committed by its youth groups.
The representatives of the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Viet Nam, Mexico, Austria, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Uganda, France, Libya, Croatia and the Russian Federation also made statements.
The meeting started at 10:16 a.m. and adjourned at 11:47 a.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2009/12 reads as follows:
“The Security Council expresses its concern about the current political crisis in Nepal, and underscores the urgent need for the Government of Nepal and all political parties to continue to work together in the spirit of compromise. The Council notes the steps taken so far in the implementation of the peace process and recalls its full support for that process.
“The Security Council reaffirms its full support for the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and recalls resolution 1864 (2009) calling upon the Government of Nepal to continue to take the necessary decisions to create conditions conducive to completion of UNMIN’s activities by the end of the current mandate, including through the work of the Special and Technical Committees for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army combatants.
“The Security Council recalls the Government of Nepal’s commitment to discharge minors from the cantonment sites and calls upon the Government of Nepal to implement this commitment in accordance with international law.”
As the Security Council met today to consider the situation in Nepal, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process (document S/2009/221). The report reviews progress in the peace process and implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) since the Secretary-General’s 2 January report to the Council on the matter.
It notes significant progress in constitution-making since the Government was formed in August 2008, such as the regular meetings of the Special Committee mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and article 146 of the Interim Constitution to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate Maoist army personnel. On 12 February, the Prime Minister instructed the Maoist army to abide by the decisions of the Special Committee. On 19 January, the Legislature-Parliament formed an 11-member committee comprising representatives of seven major political parties to monitor implementation of the November 2008 nine-point agreement between the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, and the Government. In January, the Constitutional Council, headed by the Prime Minister and charged with making recommendations on appointments to constitutional bodies, met for the first time in two years, and on 2 March, the National Security Council met for the first time in six years.
The Secretary-General also states that the Constituent Assembly has made some progress on the constitution-drafting process, which is to be completed by May 2010. Several political parties presented their proposals for the new Constitution to the Constitutional Committee, whose main challenge will be to reach agreement on the country’s form of governance and new federal structure. Concerning UNMIN’s status, Karin Landgren replaced Ian Martin, who left 6 February, as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, and the Mission was downsized from 396 personnel to 275.
During her visit to Nepal from 18 to 22 March, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay met with Nepal’s President, Prime Minister, other senior Government officials, the National Human Rights Commission, political party leaders and others. In her 27 March report to the Human Rights Council, she welcomed improvements in the human rights situation since the end of the conflict and the Government’s recent steps to create transitional justice mechanisms. But, she expressed concern over the general climate of impunity for human rights violations. She discussed with the Government and political parties renewing the mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal, which expires in June. She received support, but a formal agreement is pending. In January, the United Nations country team and international partners launched a humanitarian appeal for $115 million for 2009. As of 10 April, a total of 44 per cent of the appeal, mainly for food assistance, had been funded.
The Secretary-General observes in his report that progress on major components of the peace process, notably drafting the Constitution and discussions on the future of the two armies, has given him cause for some optimism. The scheduled weekly meetings of the Special Committee and creation of its Technical Committee are encouraging signs of the determination to integrate and rehabilitate Maoist army personnel and signal to parties’ ability to move forward constructively. He encourages all concerned to sustain that momentum without further delay. Although the Government has pledged to complete the integration and rehabilitation process by 15 July, he states that that timeline may be unrealistic given the complex task at hand. UNMIN is working closely with the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and the Technical Committee to determine the logistical requirements to support their work in the coming weeks.
Continuing political challenges, such as the controversial decision by the Government, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), and the Nepal Army related to army personnel, and frequent acrimony among senior political leaders have strained relations and could hinder progress on integration and rehabilitation, the report states. A spirit of cooperation needed to advance the peace process must be invigorated. The Secretary-General reiterates the need for all leaders to work actively to generate public confidence and a shared sense of national unity and purpose in the country’s peace process.
Although the 10 April by-elections were conducted in a largely peaceful, orderly atmosphere, serious threats to law and order continue, as does a lack of accountability for even the most serious human rights abuses committed during and after the conflict, the report states. Significant violence is attributed to youth groups affiliated with political parties, undertaking self-appointed policing roles. In that regard, the report notes that the recent agreement between two members of the governing coalition, UCPN-M and the Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), includes the pledge to “discourage acts of mutual vengeance”.
Well-planned rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel and their integration into society or the security forces is essential to future stability, the Secretary-General states. The National Security Council will play an important role in determining Nepal’s future security policy and the size and shape of its security sector. OHCHR’s Nepal office can continue to play an important and positive role in helping to build the capacity of national institutions to protect and promote human rights and in maintaining the confidence of all stakeholders in the peace process.
KARIN LANDGREN, Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIN, said the Secretary-General’s report described long-awaited steps by the Nepalese Government to resolve the continued existence in Nepal of two armies and to discharge some 4,000 disqualified Maoist army personnel, including minors. Several long-dormant governmental bodies had been revived and, in April, by-elections had been held in six constituencies in a relatively peaceful and orderly atmosphere. “The progress has been, in the language of the report, not insignificant, and the tone of the report is thus guardedly positive.” The report also warned of the differences among political parties, the high level of acrimony and weak consultation over major decisions and the atmosphere of distrust.
In the fortnight since the report was written, the deeply polarized stand-off between the Nepal Army and the leader of the governing coalition -- UCPN-M -- had come to a head, culminating in the resignation yesterday of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, she said. In the lead-up to that, considerable gaps had opened in the interpretation of the powers of the President and the Chief of Army Staff. The Supreme Court had become increasingly drawn into adjudicating such conflicts of interpretation. The Maoists had seen in the position of the Army Chief and the other major political parties an attempt to undermine their leadership of the Government, while their detractors viewed the Maoists’ actions as proof of their intention to capture State power.
Such developments had serious implications for the functioning of Government and the nature of the State to be shaped by Nepal’s next Constitution, she said. In the short term, there was a risk of paralysis, with possibly protracted negotiations on forming a new Government and a stalling of preparations for discharging disqualified people and integrating and rehabilitating verified Maoist army personnel. The Prime Minister’s resignation had followed a number of developments in the past two weeks. On 20 April, the Cabinet had requested clarification of three situations. First, the Nepal Army had recruited more than 3,000 new personnel in late 2008, despite the fact that the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Agreement on the Management of the Monitoring of Arms and Armies prohibited both the Nepal Army and the Maoist army from recruiting additional personnel. The Government had directed the Army to stop the recruitment, but the Army had not. Second, the Army had also reinstated eight retiring Brigadier Generals, whose services were not recommended for extension by the Minister of Defence. Third, Nepal Army participants had also withdrawn from several events at the National Games, after Maoist army athletes were allowed, at the last minute, to participate.
The issue of Nepal Army recruitment and that of the Brigadier Generals’ non-extension had been brought before the Supreme Court, which was expected to rule on both issues this month, she said. The broad charge levelled by the Prime Minister was that the Army Chief had repeatedly defied the authority of the elected Government, but, in his 21 April response, the Army Chief had reportedly stated that he had never done so, and that the Prime Minister lacked the constitutional authority to fire him. The Prime Minister had said that he intended to resolve the issue through consensus and had reportedly secured the agreement of the leaders of the largest governing coalition partner, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), as well as the major opposition party, the Nepali Congress, to remove the Army Chief. But, such agreements might have fallen apart. On 3 May, UML had pulled out of the Government, leaving UCPN-M in a minority.
As those events had unfolded, the active profile of the President had raised constitutional questions and eroded relations between his office and that of the Prime Minister, she continued. On 3 May, the Cabinet had formally decided to sack the Army Chief, and the Prime Minister had appointed the Army’s second-in-command, Chief of Staff Kul Bahadur Khadka, to replace him. On 3 May, the President had written to the Army Chief, instructing him to continue in his post, and said that the Government’s steps to dismiss the Army Chief and appoint a replacement were constitutionally and procedurally incomplete. In a public statement on 4 May, the President said that his directive had not violated constitutional provisions, as UCPN-M had not consulted with its coalition partners. The Prime Minister, who had previously threatened to take his party out of the Government if no satisfactory compromise were found, did so on 4 May.
In a televised address to the nation, she said, the Prime Minister had urged the country to respect the peace process, and the letter and spirit of the Interim Constitution, saying that his resignation was intended to allow a way out of the ongoing political crisis. He had criticized “foreign and international forces” for interfering in Nepal’s politics and for undermining national integrity and sovereignty.
“This is a volatile moment in Nepal’s peace process,” she said, which had aimed since 2005 to end the war and hold constituent assembly elections towards building a more democratic Nepal. “The challenges from the Army Chief to the control and oversight of an elected Government and the countermanding of a cabinet order have exposed ambiguities in the Interim Constitution, deepened mistrust amongst the parties and also empowers actors who are expected to remain above politics. The development of multiple power centres represents a real risk to the peace process.”
In announcing his resignation, the Prime Minister had pledged to fulfil his party’s peace process commitments while in opposition, she said. Many such commitments remained to be fulfilled, above all the drafting of a Constitution and the integration or rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel. The Maoist army had only recently come under the authority of the State through the Special Committee, formed in accordance with article 146 of the Interim Constitution to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate army combatants, which had held its first meeting on 16 January. A Technical Committee, set up 26 March, had spent its first three weeks in consultations and had quietly resumed meetings. Under the 25 June 2008 peace process agreement, the Special Committee was to reach and implement decisions on integration and rehabilitation in six months. The Army Chief, however, had taken a restrictive stance on integrating former Maoist army personnel into the Nepal Army. The deadline was unlikely to be met. The question now was whether the situation could be resolved if the Maoists remained outside the Government.
UNMIN now had a very substantially reduced presence in Nepal, with 275 personnel, including 73 arms monitors, she said. UNMIN continued to encourage full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and continued its monitoring responsibilities, including management of the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee. Since late March, UNMIN had led discussions with the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction on discharging disqualified Maoist army personnel, including minors. With the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNMIN was seeking a successful discharge and reintegration exercise that met international standards, with adequate access for independent monitors and a genuine removal of disqualified personnel from army supervision. The mandate of OHCHR in Nepal would expire on 9 June. Its extension, for which Nepal’s main political parties had expressed support, should not become a victim of the present fluid situation.
Continuing, she said that “unfulfilled commitments are the Achilles heel of the peace process and threaten the peace dividend that the people of Nepal expect and so richly deserve”. In the present situation, there was a serious deficit of trust among the principal political actors. A high-level, multi-party monitoring mechanism that was envisaged in the peace agreements was still needed and should be formed. “The parties should urgently take steps to rebuild trust and work together in a spirit of compromise and consensus needed to protect the achievements and ensure further progress in the coming weeks and months,” she said, adding that an inclusive, concerted and well-managed consultative process was needed to address the future of the Maoist army personnel and drafting the new Constitution.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said he was deeply concerned by recent developments on the ground and regretted the events leading up to the resignation of the Prime Minister. He was encouraged, however, by comments made by the parties that stressed the importance of consensus. It was, therefore, all the more important that all parties be held to their commitments made under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
He said the international community must support Nepalese efforts to come to a solution of the current crisis, without important gains made since 2006 being given up. The situation must be monitored closely and an objective assessment would be an important part of the Council’s consideration for extending UNMIN’s mandate. It was important, in that regard, not to seek premature conclusions. UNMIN’s efforts must now be focused on helping Nepal to overcome the crisis and move forward. The prediction that UNMIN’s mandate could be completed by 15 July had already been unrealistic before the crisis.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) said the current crisis made it abundantly clear that Nepal’s leaders must recommit themselves to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. She urged all parties to solve the current impasse through dialogue and appropriate resort to courts, and stressed that the resignation of the Prime Minister must not be allowed to create a political vacuum and that the formation of new Government must not drag on for months. She urged the Maoist party to remain involved through participation in the Constituent Assembly and other bodies. As continued misuse of political youth groups also threatened the peace process, she urged the Maoist party and other parties to renounce all violence committed by its youth groups.
She said the Special Committee should now continue consultations and the Technical Committee should implement its decisions. The country should move to consolidate arms and soldiers to fewer cantonments and to discharge minors. The achievements made remained at risk. The Maoist-led Government and the Nepal Army must recognize that democracy was rooted in civilian control of the military. Some progress at integration had been made, but advances were threatened by infighting. She called on all parties to recommit themselves to work together in the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) expressed concern about the implications of the dismissal of Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff and the resignation of the Prime Minister, and added that Japan fully supported the Secretary-General’s appeal for restraint and political consensus. He praised the United Nations for its active engagement in the peace process since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been concluded in 2006, saying Japan valued UNMIN for playing a vital supporting role.
On progress towards the new Constitution, he noted the cautious approach being taken by the Nepalese people, which Japan found understandable, so long as the process was grounded in peaceful political dialogue. While it was encouraging to hear assurances from the Maoist party of their commitment to the peace process, including their continued participation in the drafting of the Constitution, the demobilization and integration of Maoist soldiers was a greater challenge. The Special Committee had established a Technical Committee to conduct that difficult task, but the Secretary-General’s latest assessment brought concerns that it might not be realistic to expect the necessary work to be completed within the next three months.
He said the parties needed to engage in consultations in good faith and with a spirit of cooperation, so as to reach a decision on the structures of security institutions. Despite the recent political turbulence, he expressed hope that all parties remembered why they had embarked on the peace process three years ago. “It was the outcome of the wisdom and courage of the people of Nepal to take the initiative to bring a long conflict to an end,” he said, urging all parties to adhere to the stipulations in the Agreement on Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies, covering the Nepal Army and the Maoist army. The parties needed to demonstrate such wisdom again. Most urgently, a solution should be found to demobilize and integrate the 19,000 members of the Maoist army, who had been in cantonment for two years.
LA YIFAN ( China) noted the progress made in constitution-making, including the work of the Constituent Assembly. The integration and rehabilitation of UCPN‑M militants had been moving ahead steadily. The Government of Nepal had promised to complete that task by 15 July. He said he was encouraged by that progress. He expressed hope that the parties concerned would bear in mind the overall situation and make concerted efforts to safeguard the peace process. The entire UNMIN staff was fully dedicated and had been making positive contributions to the peace process. He encouraged UNMIN to continue to properly monitor the situation concerning weapons and militants, in accordance with the Council’s mandate, and to cooperate with the Special Committee to reintegrate and settle former UCPN‑M militants. The peace progress in Nepal should be led by the Nepalese people.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said the relatively calm security situation in Nepal during the reporting period was a positive development. He noted progress on major aspects of the peace process. He expressed concern, however, over the tensions between various ethnic and political groups. He was particularly concerned over the latest rift in the political leadership. He called on all parties to exercise restraint and work to expedite the peace process. They should work to maintain the hard-won gains already achieved for the common good of the nation. He commended UNMIN for its work in arms monitoring, taking into consideration the Nepalese Prime Minster’s request for support. UNMIN should maintain close cooperation with the Government of Nepal and other United Nations agencies to help sustain peace, stability and achieve its mandate. He called on the international community to support the Nepalese peace process.
BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) thanked Ms. Landgren for her briefing and the Secretary-General for his latest report on Nepal. Turkey shared the Secretary-General’s cautious optimism regarding the implementation of the peace process. The regular consultation on the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist army personnel and the progress achieved by the Constituent Assembly towards drafting the Constitution were worth underlining. Turkey also welcomed the appointment of the National Security Council, which had met for the first time in six years to make recommendations on the mobilization, operation and use of the Nepal Army.
As the Secretary-General had also reported, however, the level of cooperation among the major stakeholders of the peace process remained far from adequate, he said. Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Prachanda constituted a “stark manifestation” of that fact. The Prime Minister’s decision and what it might mean for the country’s political stability was a source of significant concern. Turkey sincerely hoped that the Government crisis was resolved swiftly and democratically, and would not in any way jeopardize the peace process. Calling on all parties to work together, he emphasized the common responsibility of all political actors to continue to adhere to the principles and understanding that had led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006.
He stressed that UNMIN obviously had an important role to play in this new situation, as it seemed to enjoy full confidence and support of all Nepalese parties. He very much looked forward to hearing Ms. Landgren’s assessment on the reasons for the latest political crisis and what could be done to facilitate a resolution. At this point, discussion on the possible exit strategies for UNMIN was premature. It was now urgent to keep the peace process on track, and the United Nations and the international community must remain committed to supporting that process. To that end, Turkey supported the Council’s presidential statement, which reflected its expectations of Nepal and UNMIN.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the report had been written in an atmosphere of optimism. Current events, however, had caused a political crisis that could jeopardize the peace process. Expressing his deep concern at those events, he called upon the parties to resume dialogue, in order to strengthen national unity and achieve a successful conclusion to the peace process.
He said that, given the current crisis, recruitment by either of the two armies constituted a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. In order to avoid a greater crisis, cooperation of all parties would be required. Pending aspects of the peace process, such as establishing a constitutional order, reintegration and rehabilitation of Maoist army members and discharge of minors, would require constructive cooperation between the parties and support of the international community. He invited the Government of Nepal to continue cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said the dispute between the Prime Minister and the Nepal Army had aggravated the rift between political parties and deepened the existing atmosphere of mistrust. He hoped for the expeditious formation of a stable Government that enjoyed the widest possible consensus. All Nepalese stakeholders had the responsibility to ensure that the peace process did not lose its momentum. Although progress had been made on disarmament and demobilization, in particular with regard to integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel, it was unfortunate that the issue now seemed to be at the core of the crisis. He appealed to all parties concerned to adhere to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and all related agreements.
He said he was also concerned that the discharge from Maoist army cantonments of nearly 3,000 personnel disqualified as minors would now be further delayed. There was a need for a swift implementation of the assurances given to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in December 2008 to proceed with the discharge and rehabilitation of minors without further delay. The proliferation of militant youth wings affiliated with political groups was another concern. Stressing the importance of fighting impunity, he was encouraged by the steps taken by the Nepalese Government to establish accountability for past violations through the development of transitional justice mechanisms.
BONAVENTURE KOUDOUGOU ( Burkina Faso) said he was concerned at recent events in Nepal, as they were proof that the situation there remained fragile. He called upon the political actors to favour dialogue. The political rift showed there was a need for further efforts to bring about a more peaceful political climate. What was at stake was building on the gains made and drafting a Constitution. One of the most difficult issues was the reintegration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants, he said, calling upon the United Nations to continue to support the authorities in that area.
He said all efforts must be supported that aimed at establishing a peaceful climate. He hoped the National Forum, to be held on 8 May, would allow the Government to mobilize further resources for development. In spite of initiatives launched by the Government, the fight against impunity and protection of minority human rights remained difficult. The United Nations, regional countries and all parties must join in support for human rights. He called upon the Government to abide by commitments made regarding the discharge of minors. He further called upon the Council to ensure that progress made would be preserved.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) called upon the parties involved to strengthen dialogue in order to achieve stability, which to date had required many sacrifices. All parties must work together in the spirit of compromise to meet their commitments under the peace agreements and in accordance with the extension of UNMIN’s mandate last January. The parties must place national interests first and act in accordance with the peace agreements, the will of the people and the elections. He noted the need to address the issue of human rights and the fight against impunity, as respect for human rights would help create an environment favourable for peace, reconciliation and stability.
Situations existed that could jeopardize the peace process, such as challenges concerning the reintegration and reconciliation of Maoist army combatants, he said. UNMIN must work in the spirit of cooperation. The political process must give rise to a better society that met all the necessary conditions for bringing about national unity. He encouraged the Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal to continue the work of her good offices.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) expressed concern over the recent events that had led to the resignation of the Prime Minister, which could potentially derail the peace process. He called on all parties to remain calm and seek resolution through dialogue. A lasting solution would have to be reached in the framework of the ongoing constitutional process. He said he trusted that the Constituent Assembly would be able to reconcile the diverging views presented by different parties, particularly concerning the form of Government. The National Security Council would need to expedite its work. As the peace process moved forward, it was imperative to adequately integrate Maoist army combatants into the Nepal Army. He urged the relevant authorities to address the matter as soon as possible.
He welcomed the formation of the Special Committee’s Technical Committee, which was drawing up a work plan for completely integrating and rehabilitating verified Maoist army personnel into the Nepal Army. UNMIN would play an important role in supporting Nepalese authorities in their efforts to deal with the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s resignation. He said he trusted that, with Ms. Landgren’s guidance, the situation would stabilize and the peace process would move forward.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said the recent developments were of concern, as was the crisis between the Government and the Army, a crisis that could jeopardize the peace process -- which had achieved some real process recently. It was, therefore, important for the Council to send a signal calling on parties to compromise and advance the peace process.
Although he had taken note of the Nepal’s statement that it would make sincere efforts to allow UNMIN to complete its mandate by the end of June, he said that statement now seemed somewhat premature. UNMIN, however, would not remain in Nepal forever. Parties must, therefore, show their responsibility in advancing the peace process, in particular regarding the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel. The minors should be discharged as soon as possible. His delegation was ready to support a United Nations presence in support of the peace process, if the Government of Nepal believed it was useful.
ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) said he hoped recent events would not undermine the peace process, especially since that process had been going through a critical period that required the cooperation of all parties for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and other agreements. He hoped that progress would continue, so that the people of Nepal could draft a Constitution that would guarantee the rights of all populations, including marginalized populations. He welcomed the establishment of the Technical Committee for integration and rehabilitation of Maoist Army personnel and hoped for speedy demobilization of the minors.
He expressed concern at the continued differences between the major parties, as well as at the murders and abductions, and the refusal of some groups to participate in a dialogue. He called on all parties to respect national State institutions that were working for compliance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, strengthening the rule of law, working to improve the security situation and dealing with impunity. The rights of minority groups must also be taken into account. Because political challenges continued, all political groups must re-establish trust and feelings of national sentiment.
VICE SKRAČIĆ ( Croatia) expressed concern over the current situation. The resignation of the Prime Minister had led to the destabilization of the coalition Government. He noted with concern the disturbing turn of events. He called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the current crisis through dialogue and consultation. He called on them to remain loyal to the Nepalese people, through a genuine political dialogue that would safeguard a democratic, durable and prosperous future for them and the country. He urged all political stakeholders to maintain the progress to date on the important constitution building process and to resume work, in that regard.
He stressed the importance of reintegrating and rehabilitating the Maoist army combatants into the Nepal Army and the importance of the Government’s implementation of its commitment to discharge minors. Given the immense fragility of the current political situation, he supported a clear and unanimous message from Council on the importance and need to achieve those aims.
Council President VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, expressed concern over the events that had unfolded in the last few days. Negative trends had emerged that threatened gains made in the peace process. All political actors must do their utmost to resolve disputes through dialogue. UNMIN should provide the necessary support for the peace process and the Nepalese people.
MADHUBAN PRASAD PAUDEL ( Nepal) said the historic transformation process in Nepal had been moving forward with many ebbs and flows, but he was confident that the peace process would not drift from its steady course. The flexible attitude of the political parties would guide them towards the logical conclusion of the peace process. He was also confident that the current situation would be resolved soon through dialogue and consensus among the political parties in the Constituent Assembly. He reiterated that the political parties, despite their differences, were engaged in dialogue to forge consensus in the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Nepalese people were eager to see how their concerns would be reflected in the new constitution-making process, once the Constituent Assembly put forward a draft Constitution for a final round of consultations among the people.
He said the Army Integration Special Committee and its Technical Committee were at work. Preparations for discharging the minors were in progress and the Government was determined to carry out its obligations in that regard. He assured the Council that the Government would make sincere efforts to allow UNMIN to complete its given activities by the end of the current mandate.
Ms. LANDGREN said current concerns were indeed acute, and the Council’s interest was extremely important. UNMIN would act within the scope of its limited mandate. It would build on contacts and strong dialogue across all parties and armies in an impartial role. The immediate challenge was the formation of a Government and progress in the legislative parliament. Although there would be great temptations for delays, all parties must show restraint.
She said there would be a need for continuing technical support for integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel, and UNMIN was working closely with the Committees to that end. But, resolution of the issue would also entail difficult political negotiations. The frustration among Maoist army personnel, who had remained in cantonments for two years, was high. The Joint Monitoring and Coordinating Committee had become an important mechanism in that regard, and had continued to bring the Nepal and Maoist armies together for discussions in a professional and civilized atmosphere. There was currently a risk that the discharge of minors was becoming a low priority. UNMIN would continue to help move it forward.
The focus had been on security issues centring on the Nepal and Maoist armies, she said, but it was now essential that the process be attentive to the rights and interests of other groups. Drafting the Constitution required consensus and a sense of ownership on the part of all groups, and that entailed maintaining a dialogue with traditionally marginalized groups. Unity was the only answer and dialogue the only satisfactory way forward.
She announced that, due to the recent events, the National Forum to be held next week had been postponed. That Forum, with high-level representation by bilateral and multilateral donors, was considered crucial for designing a development strategy.
* *** *For information media • not an official record