17 August 2009 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stressed the importance of deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law in Nepal, in a report on the country’s transition from war to peace, released in Kathmandu today.
“Nepal is in transition from conflict to peace and from authoritarian rule to democracy, and has the chance to redefine both the nation and the State,” the 2009 Nepal Human Development Report says.
“It is an opportunity for political ‘transformation’, to root out age-old practices by ensuring equality, justice and a greater voice for excluded groups. Deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law are critical in order to give peace a chance of success.”
The report notes that the underlying causes of 10 years of conflict in Nepal have not been resolved, and nor have the consequences been addressed. It calls for efforts to deal with the effects of this divided past, which include poverty and discrimination on the basis of caste and ethnicity, and an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 displaced people who have not yet returned home.
The report adds that while Nepal has made some gains in human development, the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged regions and caste or ethnic groups is widening or remains the same. Literacy rates for Dalits remain significantly lower than those for Brahmins and Chettris.
Similarly, the survival chances of children aged under five from the Dalit and other marginalized communities are lower than those of children born to advantaged castes.
“Successive Human Development Reports have documented Nepal’s profoundly uneven development patterns,” said UNDP Resident Representative Robert Piper as he launched the report.
“Today’s report indicates these patterns remain largely intact despite important progress on a number of nation-wide indicators. The message in this report is that the ‘absence of war’ will alone neither assure a lasting peace nor deliver prosperity. Nepal’s ambitious post-conflict transformation must successfully address centuries of discrimination and exclusion so these patterns are broken for ever.”
The 2009 Nepal Human Development Report is the fourth in a series of reports that have provided an analytical framework for Nepal’s progress on key human development indicators and the challenges that the country faces in improving the quality of life of its people.
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