SECURITY COUNCIL FAVOURS EXTENDING DOWNSIZED POLITICAL MISSION IN NEPAL, FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT’S REQUEST FOR CONTINUED UNITED NATIONS PRESENCE
SECURITY COUNCIL FAVOURS EXTENDING DOWNSIZED POLITICAL MISSION IN NEPAL, FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT’S REQUEST FOR CONTINUED UNITED NATIONS PRESENCE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5938th Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL FAVOURS EXTENDING DOWNSIZED POLITICAL MISSION IN NEPAL,
FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT’S REQUEST FOR CONTINUED UNITED NATIONS PRESENCE
Nepal’s request for a six-month extension of a scaled down United Nations special political mission in the country, focused mainly on monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepal Army, received the support of Security Council members this morning.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the matter, his Special Representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, outlined the latest developments in the country, which included the formation of a federal democratic republic to replace the monarchy by the newly elected Constituent Assembly, and its election tomorrow of the country’s first President. Also, a broad-ranging agreement had been signed on 25 June by the leaders of the Seven-Party Alliance.
The most contentious and unresolved issue, however, had been the sharing of posts and power among the parties, he said. Efforts to achieve consensus appeared to have broken down, ahead of tomorrow’s vote, with potentially serious consequences for the support base of a new Government. The responsibilities within the Government for the security sector and for decisions regarding the future of the Maoist army had been an important element in the negotiations, and one of particular relevance for the continued role requested of the United Nations.
If the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the Special Representative would continue to be supported by a Political Affairs Section, while the Arms Monitoring Office would continue at approximately half its previous strength of 186 arms monitors, Mr. Martin said. Meanwhile, UNMIN had been working closely with the United Nations country team to ensure the transfer of functions and experience at the end of its mandate.
The Council was also addressed by Nepal’s representative, who said that the country had completed several important milestones in its peace process, which was nearing its logical conclusion. Nepal would soon have a new Government that would most likely be led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which had won most seats in the Assembly. UNMIN had made an important contribution to that process.
He pointed out that most of the Mission’s mandate had been accomplished, but the country had yet to conclude its arrangements on cantonment of Maoist army personnel, which were being monitored by UNMIN. Therefore, his Government had decided to request an extension of the Mission for another six months at a smaller scale to engage itself in the remainder of the mandate.
He also explained that the Secretary-General had sought clarification on the matter and, on behalf of the Government of Nepal, the Permanent Representative had provided it. In particular, he had clarified that the Government’s 8 July letter was a combined position of major political parties. As requested by the Government, the Mission would have to “engage itself for the remainder of the mandate”, which “relates to the ongoing work on monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel in line with the agreement among the political parties and assisting in implementing the agreement”.
Speakers in today’s debate welcomed the positive developments in Nepal, which was now undergoing a democratic transition, and supported the extension of a downsized Mission. However, most of them agreed that the remaining challenges should not be ignored, including the human rights situation, the need to improve security, address impunity, deal with the concerns of historically disadvantaged groups and demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers. Speakers also emphasized the importance of ensuring a participative and inclusive political process in the country and said that measures to support peace in Nepal had to go hand in hand with an economic programme, based on poverty reduction. Furthermore, the establishment of a single national army and ongoing efforts for demobilization and reinsertion were key factors leading to stability and peace in the country.
Statements were made by representatives of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Costa Rica, China, Burkina Faso, United States, South Africa, France, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Libya, Croatia, Panama, Italy, Viet Nam, India and Japan.
The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 12 noon.
When the Security Council met this morning, 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/2008/454), dated 10 July, in which the Secretary-General recommends a one-month extension of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), until 23 August, pending further clarification from the Nepalese Government about the scope of support it would like to receive from the Mission, in order for the Secretary-General to recommend a continuing United Nations presence in the form of a special political mission.
UNMIN was established as a special political mission, with a mandate to monitor the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepal Army, assist in monitoring ceasefire arrangements, provide support for the conduct of the election of a Constituent Assembly and provide a small team of electoral monitors.
According to the report, the convening on 28 May of the democratically elected Constituent Assembly was a milestone in the peace process. The Assembly voted by 560 votes to 4 to end the 239-year-old monarchy and to implement a Federal Democratic Republic. Impediments to form a Government were removed on 25 June, when the Seven-Party Alliance signed the “agreement between the political parties to amend the Constitution and take forward the peace process”.
A key issue in the negotiations leading to the agreement was the integration, rehabilitation and management of arms and the confinement of Maoist army personnel to cantonments, the report further states. A special committee would start work within 15 days of the formation of a Council of Ministers, a time frame of six months, beyond which the country would bear no responsibility for verified combatants who have not been integrated or rehabilitated. The agreement stipulates that a request will be made for the United Nations to continue for a further six months “its current work of monitoring the management of arms and armies”, in accordance with the terms of the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies.
The report states that, after the successful completion of the 10 April election, UNMIN electoral staff were withdrawn from the districts and regions, and the Electoral Assistance Office closed on 31 May. The number of arms monitors has declined to 155 out of the authorized strength of 186. UNMIN overall staffing was 802 out of the authorized strength of 1,045 personnel. An end-of-mission task force was established in May in preparation for the end of the Mission’s mandate on 23 July, in order to ensure an effective transfer of residual tasks and to assist staff, both national and international, to apply for alternative employment. Of the 155 arms monitors, 65 will end their tour of duty by mid-July. Should the current mandate be extended, 90 arms monitors will remain in the Mission.
The report then describes UNMIN’s activities in the areas of arms monitoring; mine action; electoral support; civil affairs; gender, social inclusion and child protection; political affairs; public information and outreach; and safety and security. It also analyses the human rights situation in the country.
The Secretary-General states that, although he had not anticipated a further extension of UNMIN’s mandate, the continuing delay in forming a new Government has prevented discussions regarding assistance for the completion and consolidation of the peace process and Nepal’s long-term development. His Special Representative has been made aware of a broad consensus among political parties and civil society that a continuing United Nations political presence and monitoring of the management of arms and armed personnel remain important.
On 8 July, the Secretary-General received a letter from the Permanent Mission of Nepal transmitting a formal request of the interim Government for the continuation of UNMIN “at a smaller scale to engage itself in the remainder of the mandate for a period of another six months”. According to that letter, “the remainder of the mandate relates to the ongoing work on monitoring the management of arms and army personnel”.
The Secretary-General believes that monitoring of arms and armed personnel should continue to be provided within the framework of a special political mission, which can continue to offer the necessary support for the completion of the peace process. The letter received, however, lacks the clarity required to recommend a continuing United Nations presence in the form of a special political mission. Further clarification is being sought. He, therefore, recommends a one-month extension of UNMIN, in order to give the new Government time to respond.
If, however, matters are clarified and a six-month extension is mandated, the Council should receive a report after three months on progress and further possible downsizing of the Mission, as it should be possible to reduce the requirement for monitoring arms and armed personnel once the Nepalese special committee begins its work. Financial implications will be absorbed, to the extent possible, within the 2008 budget.
UNMIN has drawn up a contingency plan for a radically downsized mission that could respond to those requirements, according to the report. The Electoral Assistance Office has already been closed. The Arms Monitoring Office would be maintained, initially at the strength of 90 arms monitors. The Office of Civil Affairs would be closed. The Gender, Social Affairs and Child Protection Sections would be closed, except for the retention of two Child Protection Officers, until minors have been discharged from the cantonments. Political staffing would be dependent on whether it is decided to retain a Special Representative as the head of the Mission. The plans would effect a reduction of at least 70 per cent in the substantive staffing of UNMIN.
Briefing the Security Council, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Nepal, IAN MARTIN, said that Nepal’s newly elected Constituent Assembly, during its first meeting on 28 May, had voted to implement a federal democratic republic. The former King had left the palace without incident to remain peacefully in Nepal. Tomorrow, the Assembly was scheduled to elect Nepal’s first President and to proceed to name a Prime Minister, who would form a new Government. While the Special Representative’s anticipated discussion with the newly formed Government had obviously not taken place, the Security Council now had before it a request, based on consensus among the main parties, for an extension of UNMIN’s mandate. The clarification of the request sought by the Secretary-General had now been received through Nepal’s Permanent Representative.
Summarizing the outcome and “the unfinished business” of the negotiations that had delayed the formation of the new Government, he said that the interim Constitution had provided for the decision regarding a republic to be made by the first meeting of the Assembly, but it was silent on the arrangements for the functions of the Head of State during the drafting of the new Constitution. It provided for a Prime Minister to be selected by political consensus, or, failing that, by a two-thirds majority, and similarly to be subjected to removal by a two-thirds majority vote. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which had campaigned for its own leader to become Executive President and whose members constituted over one third of the Assembly, had been persuaded in the post-election negotiations to agree to the amendment of the interim Constitution to provide for a President and Vice-President, with the Prime Minister remaining executive head of Government, and to allow for the Prime Minister to be elected or ousted by a simple majority. Those were aspects of a broad-ranging agreement signed on 25 June by leaders of the Seven-Party Alliance.
After the agreement had been signed, however, the Assembly had been unable to proceed immediately to adopt the required amendments to the interim Constitution, as the newly elected Madhesi parties, which had not been party to the above-mentioned negotiations, but formed the fourth largest block in the Assembly, had demanded that undertakings given to them in the February agreement with the Interim Government should also be entrenched in constitutional amendments, he explained. Their interpretation of the February agreement had included the acceptance of the highly controversial demand for the Tarai plains of southern Nepal to become an autonomous Madhesi province within the future federal State. Only last Sunday, the Assembly had voted on the amendments to the interim Constitution, with members of the Madhesi parties boycotting, but no longer obstructing, the proceedings.
He said that, with the conclusion of the 25 June agreement, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress had announced his resignation, but had remained at the head of the caretaker cabinet, in which ministers from the other two main parties had ceased to participate. The most contentious and unresolved issue had been the sharing of posts and power among the parties. Efforts to achieve consensus appeared to have broken down ahead of tomorrow’s vote, with potentially serious consequences for the support base of a new Government. The responsibilities within Government for the security sector and for decisions regarding the future of the Maoist army had been an important element in the negotiations, and one of particular relevance for the continued role requested of the United Nations.
Among other things, he continued, it had been agreed and provided by the constitutional amendments that members of political parties not included in the Government should be represented in the special committee to be established under the interim Constitution to “supervise, integrate and rehabilitate” the combatants of the Maoist army. The inter-party negotiations had displayed wide differences of view regarding the future of combatants, which were not resolved, although the process by which the special committee would carry out its task was somewhat elaborated. The 25 June agreement required that the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants would be carried out within six months and, in that context, provided that a request be made for UNMIN to continue monitoring the management of arms and armies for six more months.
He added that the Government had thus written formally to the Secretary-General on 8 July requesting such ongoing monitoring and assistance. Having been instructed to seek further clarification, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative had met with each of the leaders of the three largest parties: the Prime Minister, who was President of the Nepali Congress; the Chair of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), who was expected to be Prime Minister of a Maoist-led Government; and the General Secretary of the Communist Party Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). Each of them had confirmed their wish that UNMIN continue as a special political mission, headed by a Special Representative. However, the process remained, and would remain, fully Nepalese-owned. The wishes of Nepal’s Government and leading political parties had also been clarified to the Secretary-General by the Nepal’s Permanent Representative. Mr. Martin was thus authorized to convey to the Council the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the mandate of UNMIN be extended, as requested by Nepal, for six months.
Shortly before leaving Nepal, he had participated in ceremonies marking the closure of UNMIN’s five regional offices, he said. The plans envisaged were that, if the Council extended UNMIN’s mandate, the Special Representative would continue to be supported by a Political Affairs Section, while the Arms Monitoring Office would continue at approximately half its previous strength of 186 arms monitors. He had been advised that it was viable for a time, but he hoped that early decisions by the special committee supervising the Maoist combatants could reduce, for example, the burden of around-the-clock monitoring of eight weapons storage areas. Meanwhile, UNMIN had been working closely with the United Nations country team to ensure the transfer of functions and experience at the end of its mandate.
He also expressed concern about how rapidly the new Government would be able to move forward in implementing the 25 June agreement, which depended greatly on the degree of multi-party cooperation. He also recalled that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement required an action plan for democratization of the Nepal Army, to include determining its appropriate size, training in the values of democracy and human rights, ensuring its democratic structure and building its national and inclusive character. One contentions aspect of recent negotiations with the Madhesi parties was the precise nature of the commitment to greater inclusion of the Madhesis in the Nepal Army. Following the abolition of the monarchy, which in the past had exercised full de facto control of the Army, Nepal lacked the machinery for effective accountability of the Army to an elected Government. Ideally, decisions about the future of the Maoist combatants should be taken in the context of broader decisions about the security sector.
Those issues would require attention far beyond the next six months, he said. In that context, the Council would want to review progress, in order to ensure that good use was being made of the limited further presence of UNMIN. The Secretary-General, thus, had recommended a review after three months, which would focus on further downsizing and other steps, towards the end of the mandate, in the context of the new Government’s progress. The Council would no doubt expect that to include a report that the minors and others excluded by UNMIN’s verification had belatedly been discharged, with appropriate support and integration. That was by no means the only challenge facing Nepal. The lack of progress in delivering on compensation for victims of the conflict, investigation of disappearances and return of property and displaced persons to their homes remained a source of deep grievances. The 25 June agreement had made fresh promises in those respects.
He added that the dangers of the vacuum of effective State authority at the local level had become increasingly evident during the period of protracted national-level negotiations. The constitutional amendments provided that, until local elections could be held, interim bodies would be formed at the district, municipality and village levels. Some Nepalese said that the peace process could not be regarded as complete until a new Constitution had been adopted and the first elections held accordingly. All agreed that it was not complete while there were two armies in the country. It was for the purpose of assisting Nepal in reaching beyond that still dangerous condition that its main political actors believed that a limited further presence of UNMIN was needed, and the Secretary-General supported that request.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) said that Nepal’s elections had created the most diverse and representative Assembly in the country’s history. Challenges remained, including the fact that, despite long negotiations between the parties, the formation of a new Government had not been possible. There seemed to be lack of trust and consensus between the parties. The future of former combatants was an issue of constant concern, and it was disappointing, therefore, that the parties had been unable to reach agreement. Swift implementation of the 25 June agreement was a priority.
She said that UNMIN would be well placed to support the work through the monitoring of arms and armed personnel. She welcomed the Mission’s proposed reconfiguration. It was important that the Mission, over the next sixth months, reduce its presence further, as soon as was appropriate. She supported the mandate extension, but monitoring of arms and armed personnel beyond six months should not be necessary. The Council must express its clear expectation that the parties would quickly implement the agreement.
JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said that Nepal had just gone through many historic “firsts”: the elections of the Constituent Assembly; the establishment of a federal republic; and the appointment of a first President. In no peace process had the word “ownership” been so meaningful. While Nepal had enjoyed the support of the international community, it had been the driving force of its own peace process. Women represented more than a third of the Constituent Assembly. It was crucial that women be equally involved in charting the future of the country.
He said, however, that challenges should not be ignored. The human rights situation remained disquieting. Lasting peace could not be based on extrajudicial executions or impunity. Transitional judicial mechanisms should be provided for. He also drew attention to the urgent case of child combatants who had not yet been demobilized. The United Nations was a lead supporter to Nepal’s peace process, and should now encourage the parties to swiftly implement the 25 June accord. On that basis, he supported the extension of UNMIN’s mandate.
SAÚL WEISLEDER (Costa Rica) welcomed the update on the situation in Nepal and said that, with the elections held for the Assembly, and following the announcement of a federal democratic republic and tomorrow’s election of the President, it was important to consider the changes for a society that had undergone such significant developments. The new form of Government would not take shape easily or spontaneously. New, sometimes unforeseen, obstacles could surface. Clear leadership, with a sense of vision, should guide the people in a constructive manner. Armed force must fully give way to reason. Nepal had started to forge its democracy, and the United Nations should continue to play a role.
He said he supported UNMIN’s extension for a further six months. After that, he hoped the main political parties would start to tackle the key challenges in a democratic manner, including the strengthening of police forces, to ensure the safety and security of the population and the rule of law. The violent incidents that had involved some police elements after the elections must be halted.
Involvement of children in armed conflict was unacceptable, he said, calling for demobilization of minors and their rehabilitation in society. They should be provided with education, health services and opportunities. Also unacceptable was impunity. Transitional justice mechanisms should be established, as there would be no lasting peace without justice. Those involved in acts of extrajudicial justice should be tried. The issue of human rights was fundamental. Cooperation between the national human rights commission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should be strengthened.
He also emphasized that the extension of UNMIN’s mandate had the central aim of disbandment and management of arms and completion of the reconciliation process. That should be UNMIN’s main undertaking. Other entities and the Government should focus on other indispensable tasks for building democracy. Nepal now approached a new peace phase, further strengthening human rights, while the national economy was in a difficult situation. The rise in oil prices further exacerbated the situation and required great wisdom and solidarity. He trusted Nepal would exhibit those qualities. He also emphasized the need to establish a clear date for the conclusion of the Mission. That was not about trying to rush things, but about expediting actions and acting accordingly. The country was putting an end to long years of instability, and he reiterated his strong support for those efforts.
LA YIFAN ( China) said that, as a neighbouring country, China took great pleasure at the continuing progress in Nepal’s peace process, which had led to the election of the Constituent Assembly and the declaration of the federal democratic republic. Various parties were now engaged in positive consultations towards the formation of a new Government. He was confident that the Government and the people would have the wisdom to settle remaining issues through dialogue.
Welcoming the strong support UNMIN had given to Nepal, he said that Nepal had requested for a six-month mandate extension of the Mission at reduced capacity. He supported such an extension under the prerequisite of a clear mandate, and encouraged UNMIN to continue monitoring management of arms and armed personnel in order to create a good security environment for a smooth election process.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that the peace process seemed to be following its normal course, even though there were some upsets. Those were to be expected as the country went through political change. Included in the progress made had been the signing of the 25 June agreement, which was to amend the Constitution and advance the peace process. It was crucial to have a participative and inclusive process that reflected all components, including the Maoist faction. Dialogue was the only course for real peace in Nepal. He hoped those factors would lead speedily to an inclusive Government that could tackle the many development and reconstruction challenges.
He said that, because there had been some violations of human rights and emergence of new armed groups, the security situation needed particular attention. Steps must be taken to strengthen policing and transitional justice mechanisms. Measures to support peace in Nepal had to go hand in hand with an economic programme, based on poverty reduction and supported by the international community. He welcomed the commitment of UNMIN in the service of the Nepalese people. As Nepalese authorities had requested an extension of the mandate, he supported that request.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said he supported the request for UNMIN’s extension at a reduced level, so it could complete the remaining elements of its mandate, especially management of arms and armed personnel. The United States strongly supported the Mission in Nepal and commended the work of the Special Representative and his staff. He urged all parties to settle their differences through peaceful dialogue, so that the country’s future could be characterized by democratic change and economic development. He called on the Government to address the concerns of historically disadvantaged groups, so all could share equally in the process of nation-building. The United States had provided nearly $10 million in assistance for Nepal’s economic sector reform, civil society and legal institutions, among other things. He urged other donors to contribute to the country’s successful transition. The United States remained committed to ensuring that UNMIN successfully fulfilled its mandate.
DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said that, since the adoption of resolution 1740 (2007) and UNMIN’s subsequent establishment, the Nepalese people had made significant strides towards peace and democracy. He welcomed those efforts, particularly the successful elections in April, which had reflected the diversity of the country’s population. The next step was the formation of the Government and national institutions, and he had no doubt that the Nepalese people would be successful in that venture. He was confident that the relevant parties would complete that process in due time. The international community should support the country in tackling the challenges ahead.
From the Secretary-General’s report, he noted that the establishment of the democratic republic in Nepal had taken place in a generally peaceful environment. Significant challenges remained, however, including the completion of the peace process and long-term development. He encouraged all parties to continue working in a spirit of cooperation and to pursue dialogue. He also underlined the importance of national ownership in addressing the challenges, and called upon all parties to uphold all previous agreements.
Turning to the role of UNMIN, he applauded its staff for their dedication, particularly commending their efforts in the areas of arms monitoring, electoral support, gender and social inclusion, and child protection. In light of the Government’s request for UNMIN to continue on a smaller scale for another six months, he stood ready to support that request. He hoped the mandate extension would enable the Mission to continue its work, particularly in monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel. The Government should utilize the expertise of the Mission for the benefit of all the people.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE ( France) said the development of the situation over the past months had been positive. The elections were a success for the people of Nepal, as well as for the role of the United Nations. Vigilance was necessary because of delays in the establishment of the new Government. Peacebuilding and democracy-building were long–term processes that had only just started. The Council should respond positively to the Nepalese request for a six-month mandate extension. By continuing its work of monitoring of arms and armed personnel, a task on which UNMIN should focus, Nepalese authorities would be given time to find solutions to the problems it had to tackle in order to complete the peace process.
He said that the Nepalese authorities, however, had to shoulder their responsibilities, particularly regarding the integration of ex-combatants. The lack of progress made in the release of children from the Maoist cantonment sites was a matter of concern. At the end of UNMIN’s mandate, the international community would remain committed to the Nepalese people. Nepal could also count on the continued solidarity of the European Union, its primary donor. The Union had sent an observer mission of 100 observers to monitor the elections and also supported economic and social rehabilitation and democracy-building.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said that, after years of internal conflict, Nepal deserved peace, stability and prosperity. The creation of a federal democratic republic was a historic triumph for the people of Nepal. The role of the Nepalese Electoral Commission in the Constituent Assembly election had been commendable, and the high representation of women in the Government was exemplary. The signing by the Seven-Party Alliance of the 25 June agreement and other achievements should serve as a stepping stone for further tangible progress on other critical goals, as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. All parties concerned should remain committed to the peace process and exercise the utmost restraint from actions that could undermine it.
He said that, in the post-election period, the Government had to tackle some critical matters. Management of arms and armed personnel still needed to be completed, and former combatants were yet to be integrated and rehabilitated. There were concerns arising from the state of discharge of minors from cantonments. For a robust democracy, all segments of Nepalese society should be included. He welcomed, in that regard, the representation of a variety of ethnic groups previously underrepresented in the Assembly. The promotion of human rights, as well as the rule of law, remained a challenge, and the situation in the Terai region warranted particular attention. The incidence of extrajudicial killings in the aftermath of the elections was deplorable. Preventive measures were needed in addressing land-related conflicts.
Since UNMIN had been requested by Nepal, its future should naturally be decided by the people and Government of Nepal. He, therefore, supported the Government’s request for the continuation of UNMIN on a smaller scale, focusing on the ongoing work of monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) welcomed recent positive political changes in Nepal, saying he was convinced they would favourably impact the peace process. The democratic elections, democratic reform of the Government and tomorrow’s election would be important milestones. He expected the agreement of 25 June to have an important impact on advancing the democratic process. All those developments had become possible due to the readiness of the main political forces to get involved in constructive joint efforts. He hoped that a similar spirit would be displayed in other areas of the peace process.
After the Assembly elections, the main elements of UMNIN’s mandate had been successfully completed, and he thanked the Special Representative for his efforts. His delegation supported the request for the Mission’s six-month extension in a downsized form and agreed with the mandate of monitoring arms and armed forces. The report of the Secretary-General had reaffirmed that the Mission had a great potential to provide assistance in the delineated areas. He also supported the gradual downsizing of the Mission and took an optimistic view of the future of Nepal, the main responsibility for which lay with its people and Government.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI ( Libya) said he was grateful for the Mission’s efforts in Nepal and welcomed recent positive changes there. The formation of the democratic republic was a milestone in the history of the country. He was pleased to see a seven-party alliance, which had helped to eradicate several obstacles towards the establishment of a new Government. He hoped the parties would reach agreement shortly on the distribution of portfolios and that the new Government would be formed shortly. In spite of the partial success achieved by the people, further impetus should be provided for the peace process. He was concerned about the deteriorating security situation in certain regions, particularly the upsurge of crime by armed groups, abductions, emergence of new armed groups and renewed campaigns of proselytization and marginalization of certain peoples.
Continuing, he invited the new Government, which he hoped would take office as soon as possible, to further strengthen the institutions, based on the rule of law. He also sought improvements in the security situation, as well as an end to impunity. Furthermore, the establishment of a single national army with a single commander-in-chief and ongoing efforts for demobilization and reinsertion were key factors leading to stability and peace. The provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be respected, as well as recent agreements with regard to the reintegration, rehabilitation and demobilization of minors. The concerns of marginalized groups must be allayed. All that should be done in cooperation and coordination with the United Nations. He set great store in the work of the United Nations country team, supporting its strategy to build peace by reforming the State and preventing emergence of conflict, thus assisting national reconciliation. He approved the Secretary-General’s recommendations to extend the mandate of UNMIN, in accordance with the Nepalese Government’s request.
VICE SKRAČIĆ ( Croatia) said that Nepal had emerged as a new society and the people had demonstrated an admirable ability for consensus. The process that had begun in 2006 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, however, was not yet completed and the peace process was still evolving. While welcoming the 25 June agreement, he said it was now crucial that all parties sustain their commitment for an inclusive process during the transitional period. Also important was for traditionally marginalized groups to participate. He hoped the new Government would focus on the remaining issues in the peace process, as well as on immediate challenges that impacted the population, including food shortages and rising fuel prices.
He said that UNMIN had contributed to Nepal’s peace, stability and democracy. Now was the time to adapt the Mission to the new reality and give it a six-month mandate on a smaller scale. Monitoring of arms and armed personnel should be provided in the framework of a political mission. While considering an exit strategy, the remaining challenges identified in the Secretary-General’s report should be taken into consideration. Some of those required sustained attention, such as mine clearance and democratization of the Army.
ANDRÉS DE VENGOECHEA ( Panama) reiterated his observation that the States directly involved should be able to make statements before Council members. He said that the holding of elections and the establishment of the Constituent Assembly were historic acts in which UNMIN had played a constructive role. The majority of UNMIN’s mandate had already been implemented. At Nepal’s request, monitoring of arms and armed personnel should underpin UNMIN’s new mandate. It was crucial for the Mission to retain the character of a political mission with specific, time-bound goals.
He said the responsibilities to be shouldered by the new Government were immense, and security sector reform was a critical undertaking. Based on its own experience, his country supported the voluntary disarmament of both armies -– Maoist and national, as well as the establishment of a new civilian police force including members both groups. The integration of Maoist combatants into a democratic army would only increase the size of such an army, in a small country with few threats.
ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) expressed appreciation for the historical accomplishments in Nepal. The parties’ commitment to democracy should be praised, as well as the efforts of the Special Representative. However, he had learned with some concern that there had been some difficulties in the post-election period, including increased activities of some armed groups. The differences had prevented the creation of a new Government. The 25 June agreement was welcome, but it left some issues unsolved. The successful holding of April elections should be followed by concrete actions to solve the remaining issues.
While emphasizing the importance of national ownership, he said that the international community’s assistance would continue to be required for such complex process as disarmament, inclusion of women and marginalized groups, and accountability mechanisms for past crimes. Taking note of the Nepalese request for the extension of the Mission, he supported maintaining the United Nations presence within the terms of the Secretary-General’s reasonable recommendations. He appreciated the fact that the extension would be granted in the form of a special political mission. His delegation was ready to support the draft prepared by United Kingdom. He also appreciated the plans for substantive downsizing of the Mission, but added that phasing out the civil affairs components should be accompanied by strengthening similar functions of the country team.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said that experience showed that countries coming out of a prolonged civil conflict had to cope with developmental challenges, damaged infrastructures and weak institutional capacities. Nepal faced challenges to peace and development, for example, in building new governance institutions -– let alone, the rise in fuel prices, food shortages and, hence, increasing poverty. Given those challenges and the multifaceted need for Nepal to sustain its post-conflict endeavours, it was necessary to take an integrated approach that included security measures and social and economic development programmes. The international community and donors also had a very important role to play in response to the Government’s request.
He said that, since UNMIN had been established at the request of the Government, any decision on its mandate should be made with consideration of the proposal of Nepal. He, therefore, supported extending the Mission for six months, as a special political mission focusing on monitoring arms and armed personnel, in order to complete the peace process.
MADHU RAMAN ACHARYA ( Nepal) said his country had completed several important milestones in its peace process, which was nearing its logical conclusion. With the successful holding of the Constituency Assembly elections and the declaration of Nepal as a federal democratic republic, a new political transformation had begun. The country was likely to see the first President of the republic elected tomorrow. It would soon have a new Government that would most likely be led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which had won the most seats in the Assembly. UNMIN had made an important contribution to that process.
He said that the Mission, when created in January 2007, had been mandated to, among other things, monitor the ceasefire, assist elections and monitor management of arms and armed personnel. Most of that mandate had been accomplished. However, the country had yet to conclude its arrangements on cantonment, which were being monitored by UNMIN. Therefore, his Government had decided to request an extension of the Mission for another six months on a smaller scale, in order for the Mission to complete its mandate. The Secretary-General had sought clarification on the matter and on behalf of the Nepalese Government the Permanent Representative had provided those clarifications. In particular, he had clarified that the Government’s 8 July letter was a combined position of the major political parties, including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which would most likely lead the next Government. Even after the formation of the next Government, there was the least possibility of amending the letter and its contents, which had been agreed after intensive political discussion among the parties.
The 8 July letter clearly stated the Government’s desire to request UNMIN’s extension on a smaller scale, he continued. That meant the extension of the special political mission as stipulated in resolution 1740 (2007). The Mission would have to “engage itself for the remainder of the mandate”, which “relates to the ongoing work on monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel in line with the agreement among the political parties and assisting in implementing the agreement”. That was obvious because the rest of the mandate laid out in resolution 1740 had already been accomplished. His Government assumed that the Mission’s political leadership would be continued at the level of the Special Representative and retain adequate political and administrative staff, and arms monitors. Nepal concurred with the rest of the staffing and transition arrangements, as proposed by the Secretary-General in relation to the Mission’s downsizing.
A temporary month-long extension would not be helpful in the transition towards the formation of a new Government, or in the ongoing discussion on matters related to the management of arms and arms personnel among the major political actors, he said. Clarification had also been conveyed to the Special Representative in his meetings with political leadership. His Government favoured extending the Mission, as per its request. He was pleased that the Secretary-General had accepted the country’s explanation and had asked the Special Representative to convey his decision to recommend extending UNMIN for a further six months. He was confident that the Council would support that request.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said that, since India and Nepal shared an open border, with open access to markets and privileged access for their citizens, no country had more to gain from peace, stability and development in Nepal than India. India had strongly supported the peace process in Nepal, the ownership of which was entirely indigenous. The country had warmly welcomed every positive step taken by Nepalese stakeholders in a complex and sensitive process. Despite facing complex challenges in its peace process, Nepal and its leaders had indigenously addressed each of them.
He said that, taking into account the current situation on the ground, he fully supported Nepal’s request to extend the mandate of UNMIN for a further six months. Nepal’s request pertained to the remainder of the original mandate, with nothing implied and nothing to be interpreted. It seemed inappropriate, therefore, bearing in mind that UNMIN had been established at the request of Nepal, for the Secretary-General to advice the Council to extend the mandate for one month unless the request was “clarified”. “In other words, unless Nepal’s request was in line with what UNMIN wants it to say, the request is not good enough!”
The Secretary-General’s report had mentioned that UNMIN had been “made aware” of a broad consensus within Nepal that continuation of a United Nations political presence was important for the completion of the peace process, he said. UNMIN’s support, however, had not been sought in taking decisions on issues relating to the peace process. Support was needed regarding implementation of aspects of the peace process that required internationally accepted monitoring. He noted a consistent effort to expand the definition of what Nepal sought in terms of support. He urged the Council to accept the Nepalese request in letter and in spirit; the continuation of UNMIN on a smaller scale, to engage in the remainder of the mandate for a period of six months.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) congratulated the people and Government of Nepal for conducting the successful election of the Constituent Assembly in April. Credit for the success went to the people themselves, but UNMIN and the international community had also played an indispensable role. Japan had joined other partners in sending 24 electoral observers and two parliamentarians to support the historic election. At the first session of the Constituent Assembly, Nepal had declared itself a federal democratic republic and he commended all the parties that had respected the will of the people and carried out the transition in a peaceful manner. The parties were now engaged in consultations to formulate a new Government. That process of political dialogue among all parties reflected the sound state of the new democracy. The people had proven their wisdom that political differences could be addressed through dialogue, without resorting to violence. He strongly urged all Nepalese people to maintain that strong momentum towards democratic governance and to refrain from violence. He also highly appreciated the good offices of the Special Representative.
He said Nepal needed some time to consider the future of the soldiers in cantonment, which was a cornerstone to consolidating durable peace. As it was a critical time to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country, Japan supported the extension of UNMIN’s mandate for six months, along the lines of the Government’s request. The arms monitors, including those from Japan, had ably carried out their duties and he was convinced that arms monitoring would be effectively conducted under the extended mandate. At the same time, the United Nations could not continue to monitor arms and soldiers indefinitely. He, therefore, urged the parties to come to an agreement on the future status of their army, as soon as possible, while the Mission continued to monitor the activities for a limited extended period. Japan was firmly committed to supporting Nepal’s peacebuilding efforts. Japan’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Osamu Uno, had just visited Nepal two days ago to convey his country’s commitment. Among other things, he would address the issue of child soldiers, in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund, and promote socio-economic infrastructure and reduction of poverty throughout the country.
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