23 July 2009
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE ON EXTENSION OF MANDATE FOR UNITED NATIONS MISSION IN NEPAL


Karin Landgren, Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), said today that, although the peace process had stagnated to a degree, she hoped that party leaders would rise above their differences and work together pragmatically, through consensus and dialogue to advance the process, as they had done in the past.


Speaking at a Headquarters press conference, she said the leaders were in active discussions about the steps and structures that could restore significant momentum to the process.  There was also a need for regular dialogue among them to improve the political environment.


The press conference followed Ms. Landgren’s meeting with the Security Council, and its extension of UNMIN’s mandate this morning.  (See Press Release SC/9714)  She said the Council’s action had come at a time when the peace process had stagnated to a degree, and in light of its unanimous support, the Government and all parties would take the peace process forward in the period ahead, thereby creating the conditions for the Mission to conclude its mandated tasks in support of Nepal’s nationally driven peace process.


She said the resolution sent an important message of support and encouragement to the Government and parties in respect of several recent decisions, as well as the ongoing work by the Constituent Assembly on preparing a new Constitution.  The Council had welcomed the recent decisions by the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) formally to begin the discharge and rehabilitation of the 4,008 Maoist army personnel disqualified by the verification process.  It had welcomed the action plan which the Government had committed to prepare for that purpose, and for beginning the integration and rehabilitation of the 19,602 verified Maoist army personnel.


Noting that the integration and rehabilitation of former combatants were crucial in any peace process, Ms. Landgren said the Security Council had also called on the Government and political parties to ensure the early reconstitution of the Special Committee responsible for supervising, integrating and rehabilitating the Maoist army personnel, drawing support from its Technical Committee.  “Critical political decisions need to be taken soon on the modalities and the number of Maoist army personnel to be integrated in the security forces,” she said, adding that determining the future of the Maoist personnel was critical to building a lasting peace.


In response to a question about who was to blame for the sluggish progress of the peace process, Ms. Landgren said no one particular party bore the blame since all parties had entered into the peace process and had been carried along so far through “repeated agreements, consensus and compromise”.  Over the last few months, all sides had taken actions that had caused the process to slow down.


Asked how trust and confidence -- two necessary ingredients for moving the process forward –- would be restored in view of all the actions that tended to undermine it, she said the parties themselves had put two extremely important proposals on the table.  One called for a high-level political consultative mechanism, which would involve the leaders of the main parties and be dedicated to the key issues of the peace process and moving it forward.  The prospect that the parties would have regular consultations dedicated to the peace process would be an extremely positive development, she explained.  “What we would also encourage them to do is put the underpinnings for a mechanism like that in place to make sure that fresh commitments are then implemented and followed up.”  The proposal also called for a monitoring mechanism to ensure adequate follow-up, something the peace process had been lacking.


She said the second proposal, which had been echoed by all the main leaders, was that a Government of national unity or consensus was not only necessary, but probably inevitable.  However, the leaders acknowledged that such a proposal would take some time to achieve, and that the question of who would lead it could be expected to require “significant further discussion”.  Nevertheless, it was an encouraging concept for moving the peace process forward.


She said the specific encouraging recent signs acknowledged by the Security Council included the announced start of the discharge and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel, who should have been discharged immediately but had not been.  That remained an outstanding commitment.  Close to 3,000 of that group were adjudged to have been minors at the cut-off date of May 2006.  That commitment had also been made to Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, last December.


She added that the Government’s request for the extension of UNMIN’s mandate also referred to an action plan to begin a broader integration and rehabilitation of verified Maoist army personnel, which the peace process needed urgently.


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For information media • not an official record