|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6214th Meeting (AM)
Security Council Hears Call for Parties in Nepal to Work for Progress
in Peace Process before End of United Nations Mission Mandate
‘Loss of Momentum’ Reported; Renewed Efforts Needed to Break Deadlock
Briefing the Security Council today, the Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, Karin Landgren, urged the parties in Nepal to make the most of the 11 weeks remaining in the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the country, and to break their deadlock.
“During this period”, she said, “the parties need to arrest the loss of momentum and invest goodwill, realism and rigour in their pursuit of sustainable peace in Nepal.”
Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation, (see Background, which follows), Ms. Landgren, who is also the head of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), said there had been some progress in giving renewed impetus to the remaining tasks of the peace process that ended fighting between the Government and Maoist opposition. Overall, however, the process had faced “protracted deadlock, with the added risk of confrontation”.
The current impasse, she said, emerged following the events of May 2009, when the President revoked the dismissal of the chief of the Army and consequently the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) stepped down from the Government. Trust between the parties had continued to dwindle.
Despite calm over much of the past three months, she said that Maoists, aggrieved mainly by the President’s powers with regard to the Army, had stepped up their protests, and on 1 November initiated a nationwide protest, with some low-level clashes in Eastern districts. She had urged restraint in her discussions with the Maoist leadership.
Outlining efforts towards the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist Army personnel, as described in the Secretary-General’s report, as well as legislative activity in regard to the reinstatement of the Army chief, she said that it would appear to be in the interest of the democratic process for the parties to agree, pending the promulgation of the new constitution, on the ambit of presidential authority.
“Until the parties establish a clearer framework for cooperation, and find ways of moving forward on major elements of the peace process, it is difficult to plot a structured exit for UNMIN,” she said.
Three years on, she continued, a review of progress in the implementation of the major peace agreements might be overdue, noting that the parties themselves had repeatedly underlined their continued commitment to the process.
She said it was still possible that coming days would yield the kind of breakthrough that had previously produced consensus at the eleventh hour in former stages of the peace process. She said she strongly encouraged the parties to recall and repeat the cooperation that had to date yielded such significant achievements.
“It would be tragic if the successes so far were permitted to unravel,” she stressed.
Taking the floor after Ms. Landgren, the representative of Nepal, Madhu Raman Acharya, said the peace process had completed several important milestones since its start in 2006, and the “most-inclusive” Constituent Assembly was moving ahead constructively in writing a new constitution. The important issue of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist armed personnel currently living in cantonments was being undertaken by the statutory Special Committee which had been meeting to devise practical guidelines, a programme of work and the format of a political agreement. There had also been significant progress regarding the release of underage and disqualified armed personnel, a process that was likely to conclude soon.
He said it was Nepal’s intention to conclude the tasks of UNMIN as soon as possible within its mandate ending on 23 January 2010. Representatives of the 22 parties constituting the coalition in the present Government, in a meeting yesterday, had expressed their commitment to bringing the peace process to a logical conclusion. They had also asked the Maoist UCPN to withdraw their blocking of the legislative session of the constituent Assembly, to halt their agitation and to join the coalition.
He said the Secretary-General’s report would have been more balanced if it had taken into account the sincere efforts undertaken by the Government in addressing key issues of the peace process. References in the report implying parity between the regular national Army and former rebel combatants living in the United Nations-monitored cantonments were not likely to contribute positively to ongoing negotiations on the future of the cantonments.
Despite occasional setbacks, he said, Nepal’s peace process had made significant strides. He, therefore, asked the Council to stay the course in helping achieve the desired outcome and assisting in building on the progress and momentum achieved so far.
The meeting, which opened at 10:14 a.m. closed at 10:35 a.m.
The Security Council 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/2009/553) on developments in the country and activities of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) since 13 July 2009.
In the report, the Secretary-General says that Nepal was on the path of major political and social transformation, but steps towards the completion of vital areas of the peace process that ended the armed conflict between Government and opposition Maoists forces were “rather tentative” and could not be considered sufficient to create the conditions for the completion of the Mission’s activities by the end of the current mandate.
He urges the parties to devote greater energy to addressing issues identified as long-term underlying causes of conflict, including the restructuring of the State, land reform and other socio-economic challenges, through the Constituent Assembly, the election of which was the most significant achievement of the peace process so far.
He notes that serious violations of the agreement on arms and armies had remained minimal for the past three years, and that UNMIN had received acknowledgement for its support in that regard, but he says the Mission’s “light monitoring” could not substitute for the implementation of agreements by the parties.
Unfortunately, he says, to date there had been little by way of agreed strategies for moving forward on many issues and that core commitments in the peace process had yet to be met. While he acknowledges that consultations continued at all levels in an ad hoc manner, he reiterates his view that a more formal mechanism for discussion among senior leaders would better serve the peace process.
After what he calls “months of drift”, he says he welcomes the recent initiative to restart the discharge of Maoist Army personnel who were disqualified for integration into the national Army, but says that the parties must cooperatively complete that overdue process as soon as possible for it to generate confidence. Similarly, he encourages an overall strategy for reshaping and democratizing of the Armed Forces.
* *** *For information media • not an official record