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Structuring the Negotiation Process for Conflict Management

Organised by Centre for Studies on Democracy and Good Governance (CSDG)

2 December 2003


Paper Presented in the Seminar

Breaking the barriers and building a bridge: A road map for structuring negotiation and peace process in Nepal by Bishnu Raj Upreti (Download full text as Zipped word file - 43.0 kb)

A one day seminar on Structuring Negotiation Process for Conflict Management was organized by Centre for Studies on Democracy and Good Governance in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung of Germany in Kathmandu on 2 December, 2003. Participants who gathered to discuss negotiation processes for conflict management included prominent personalities from various sectors including politicians, retired administrators and human rights workers in Nepal. There were three sessions to discuss the working papers and an inaugural session which was expected to set the tone for the day's proceedings.

Achyut Bahadur Rajbhandari, executive director of CSDG, welcomed the participants and highlighted on the background of the seminar. "This is the third seminar on conflict management organized by CSDG," he said. "The main problem of the nation, Maoist violence, has terrorized people and the development processes have been stalled. It is therefore necessary to find out the resolution to the problem.

"In a democracy, it is said that dialogue is the process to find out resolution of all conflicts. But the parties in the negotiation need to be honest and sincere. The government has accepted dialogue as a resolution of the problems, so have the Maoists. But what is it that is keeping both sides away from the table?" he asked. "We thought that the dialogue process needs to be studied so that the process itself is not a hindrance in the resolution. There are three papers that discuss the various dimensions of the process. I hope the participants show keen interest in the discussions on the topics," Rajbhandari said.

The welcome speech was followed by the inauguration of the seminar by Chief Guest of the function Hon. Nayan Bahadur Khatri, chief commissioner of National Human Right Commission. He lit a traditional oil-fed lamp signaling the beginning of the seminar and said, "We have had to adopt to the conflict management dimension very quickly." He was referring to the formation of the human rights commission in a context where the Maoist movement was already under way.

He highlighted the role of confidence building as an essential aspect of negotiation to resolve conflicts. "The present government had made some preparations, more than the previous ones," he said. "However there was a great deal of mistrust between both the parties leading to the breakdown of the talks," Khatri said and diagnosed the reasons of the breakdown as-non-adherence to international norms and the code of conduct the negotiating parties had agreed to and also the posturing of the two parties rather than indulging themselves in negotiations of give-and-take. The two sides did not even accept a human rights accord that the NHRC had submitted to them, he said. "Facilitators were treated as messengers rather than as navigators of the process. This has made international mediation necessary. They can offer fresh perspectives when tunnel vision inflicts the parties.

"Protracted negotiations is a daunting task. Once negotiation is accepted by both the parties as more profitable than other alternatives, only then they sit down for talks. It should be realized that there is no viable alternative to peace talks. The parties need to analyze their past mistakes and ready themselves for new negotiations," he opined. "Human rights needs to be respected by both sides and peace negotiations initiated," Commissioner Khatri concluded.

Communist Party of Nepal- UML leader Bhim Rawal's address followed. He said: We have been chased by war, but we want peace. People are dying in the rural areas while we talk about managing conflicts here in urban centres. This is a paradox we are having to live with. We have been unsuccessful in the past because we could not understand what the Maoists were up to and the direction they were taking. UML had been talking about seeking a resolution to the problem back in 2052. But instead we are in a situation where we have ended up creating more conflicts-within constitutional forces, not just with extra-constitutional ones.

Until the King and the parties come together, it is going to be difficult to resolve the country's problems. Without resolving the conflict among the constitutional forces, it is difficult to imagine the resolution of the conflict with the Maoists. The King and the political parties have agreed to stay within the Constitution and they should not move away from that commitment.

Chairman of the session Pashupati Shumsher Rana made his remarks after UML's Rawal: The seminar is timely as it reflects the aspiration for peace of the whole Nepali people. This third seminar on conflict resolution by CSDG, is expected to discuss the negotiation process.

I was impressed by Upreti's paper where he has stressed on two things-formation of all party government and removal of barriers to peace. This is indeed very essential for us to resolve the problem. Otherwise the challenge facing the nation cannot be fought. Those responsible should not be indulging in self-centered activities during this crisis. This would create a fearsome situation for the nation.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party had called for a national consensus to resolve the crisis in its third party convention, and there still is no other way out. The RPP has risen above its party interest to bring about a national consensus and has even called for the resignation of the prime minister of its own party. This is our resolve towards mitigating the crisis. Statesmanship has become essential at today's juncture. If we are not ready to accept this fact then it may as well be that we close the door to our future.

The Chairperson's remarks ended the inaugural. The working sessions that followed had a coordinator each to manage the proceedings, the presenters to present the paper, and a designated commentator to provide a critique to the paper. Then came the floor discussions which saw a lot of animated debate. But the discussions were more focused on posturing by participants rather than trying to hammer out a framework that could be helpful for future negotiations. Some were trying to diagnose the causes behind the rise of the Maoists or intra-party conflicts while others were warning about the crisis going out of hand if problems were not solved. Very little, by way of suggestions to the papers, was provided by the floor to structure future negotiations to make them more fruitful. Nonetheless, the excerpts of the comments are provided below for each of the working session.

WORKING SESSION I
Coordinator: Nilamber Acharya
Paper: Enabling Actions for Negotiation Success
Presenters: Achyut Bahadur Rajbhandari and Major Karna Bdr. Thapa
Commentator: Pancha Narayan Maharjan

Comment by Pancha Narayan Maharjan
I see the paper through four perspectives. The first explains the ground reality prior to the conflict, secondly, foreign examples of conflict management have been analyzed, third, the roles of different parties during negotiations and lastly, the procedure of negotiation.

I like the detailing by the paper on the pre-conflict ground reality. The failure of political parties and government, bad governance, have been cited as the reasons for the Maoist insurgency. I feel that it is also our attitude of looking at others that is equally to blame for the insurgency. Even before 1996, in fact in 1991, the Maoists had pledged to wage the People's War time and again. They had wanted to use the multiparty system only as a means, not an end in itself, to their cause. But political parties ignored the warning thinking that small parties would be able to achieve nothing.

The paper should have used foreign examples in two ways. One set of examples should have shown failure in conflict resolution and the other successful cases. The Sri Lankan problem began as a linguistic movement, not ethnic, prior to 1950. Only after 1950 the discrimination against Tamils began. By the 70s the problem took the violent turn. The Maoist issue has no similarity with the Tamil problem.

Ethnic problems do exist in Nepal where the Bahuns and Chhetris who comprise only 29 per cent of the population have not made policies to suit the other 71 per cent.

Kashmir problem is unrelated with Nepal's. Examples should have been more relevant.

The paper says that political parties have been changing their preferences regarding Maoists. I would rather like to say that they have not been looking at the problem in a more serious light. They have been trying to use the Maoists all along for their own ends.

The paper also says that political parties would prove to be effective partners in pressuring both the negotiating parties as they know both the Maoist and the government nuts and bolts, but it looks like parties do not know their own organisations well enough for them to carry out that role. The authors appear to be vouching for capacity building of negotiators and isolating the Maoists at the same time. This will not solve the problem.

Talking about ballets is good, but the way of using the ballets needs to be taken into account. It needs to be a democratic process.
The government should be able to come out with an alternative to the constituent assembly. If it can do so through an amendment, it should be able to convince the people about the effectiveness of such an amendment.

Nilamber Acharya: We have talked about bad governance and the parties' irresponsibility, but we have not talked about the international dimension of the movement and the ideological dimension. The paradox is such that multiparty democracy came in 1990 and communism went out from the Soviet Union at the same time. Nepalese political parties and communists may have thought that ultra-leftism had died and that communists needed to moderate their stance. What I am saying is that did the 1991 elections not come too quickly after the fall of the Panchayat? Shouldn't parties have worked together at least for some time?


FLOOR

Hari Bansh Jha: The theoretical dimension of the paper is excellent, but the practical aspects appear questionable. Neither is the paper clear on the preventive measures of conflict management. The paper only talks of curative aspects. I feel that preventive aspects need to be given their due attention. There are issues like ethnic issues that could take a serious turn later on if preventive measures are not taken. Similarly, language and regional issues need to be taken up.

Damodar Gautam: Is the root of the Maoist problem purely national? Maoists themselves have written about their failure in Latin America and other places and that Nepal was found to be a fertile land for international communism. But, still, the issues they have raised even in the domestic context are valid.

There are two papers that have come out with regard to the Maoist conflict-- the government position paper and the Maoist paper. If we are trying to understand the ground reality, we should have tried to analyse the two papers and discussed them here for a more fruitful input from our side.

The solution is this. First, form an all-party government. The mandate of such a government at this moment should be to create the environment for talks, restore peace and hold elections.

Finally, I find relevance of seminars of this type as it educates us.

Raman Raj Mishra: Nepalese opinion is being divided into two. Victims of Maoists (or victims of government atrocities) have one type of opinion and we who are not affected have another type of opinion.

We have not had a democracy that is good for the people, but something that has been imported.

Nepali Maoists want the constituent assembly. Is it their genuine demand or is it just a tactical ploy for dialogue of a movement of international dimensions? The Indian Maoists don't demand the constituent assembly as they already have a constitution drafted by such an assembly? Why are they fighting in India, then?

There is also the geopolitical question. Even the Nepali Congress had to come out with the Melmilap policy, because of geopolitical considerations.

Within the parties themselves, there are varying commitments to multiparty politics.

Lastly, is this actually the time for dialogue? Every political force appears to think that this is the time which is conducive for them to come to power.

Shastra Datta Pant: Democracy requires a system that allows democratic behaviour. The economic, cultural and political capacity of the people needs to be increased to make the system truly democratic. Political parties have not been able to concentrate on this.

We are looking at the Maoist issue only surfacially. Going deeper shows that national policy was never formulated and even less followed in the past multiparty years, only partisanism was practised. This made development even more lopsided. This was what led to the Maoist movement. But no political party is prepared to accept this even now. The Maoists on their part have been suppressing the very poor people they want to fight for.

Students, teachers, women and other organisations have not been helpful in unifying national opinions. Even within parties these organisations have been competing for power. They think that throwing stones and holding strikes will give them jobs, not adhering to professional ethics.

Dev Raj Dahal: We are trying to restructure even the consensus that we agreed to in 1990 due to contesting claims on various forms of legitimacy--traditional, electoral and revolutionary and creating what donors call "democracy vacuum" in the country. The "reform agendas" put forward by five agitating parties combine, the government and the CPN-Maoists try to see beyond the constitutional status quo. A new consensus has to be built on the synthesis of these agendas for the future. The mechanism for peace needs to be democratized. The critical mass was state-centric yesterday and even the opposition. But today a critical mass is being produced outside the state system, espousing the multiple values of society. Our state is becoming de-nationalised. Donor support has become so necessary that elections will not help one to stay in power if donor funding does not come in. Also there should be integration of varying sub-groups of critical mass into the state system. A new democratic socialization espousing the value of democratic peace is necessary. Participation of stakeholders is another aspect.

Madhusudan Gorkhali: Maoist problem did not just come in one day. The Constitution does open up the way for bringing about massive changes through new laws. But apart from a few regulations to suit the needs of those in power, new laws needed for democracy to function were not drafted.

People had lost the traditional moorings and the new village institutions that came up were more of a place for the fraudulent and deceitful to congregate rather than a place that resolved the villager's problems.

People have stopped their demand for basic needs. They just want peace today. We need to abandon our minor selfish interests for their sake.

Bharat Pokharel: The paper was written three months ago. It came on an individual's name earlier, but today it has come out in an institutional name. It has not been updated even on minor things like spelling mistakes.

There are two classifications in one paragraph. Why? Remote and remotest areas have been identified in Nepal by the paper. How did you classify that?

Kashmir conflict is not relevant to Nepal. There are works that have mentioned Nepal and other situations that are similar in relevance. They have not been mentioned. The paper is dependent on imported ideas of the likes of Galbraith.

On page 11, you say there is no alternative to ballets. But Maoists say, power comes from the barrel of a gun. And, apart from time and space, there is an alternative to everything.

Bidur KC: The government must be legitimate for a successful negotiation. The present government is not even trusted by its own party. For legitimacy, elected governments are necessary. But for elections to take place, an all-party government is necessary.

Good governance is a must as all the problems are the result of bad governance.

Shyam Prasad Adhikari: Maoist documents and government papers should have been studied to come out with a proper diagnosis for today's discussion. The paper does not talk about diagnosis, only remedies. Such approaches are more hindrance than help.

The paper talks about our inability to study successful cases in other countries. That is true. But overall, the paper appears to mislead more than lead. National debate is needed before negotiations. Then restore peace and then work hard to meet the commitments of the negotiations.

Shanker Pokhrel: The presentation and discussions show that we are going out of track from the main problem. Conflicts were there before also, but the problem today is violence. Maoist doctrine is one which believes in violence.

Why could parties not change the Constitution nor mobilize the army? Monarchy's role in escalating the conflict has not been discussed. I agree that the parties too had their weaknesses in not overcoming the problem.

Let us not discount the sincerity of Maoists in negotiations. Why blame the Maoists only for taking up arms? The monarchy had done it to unify the country, the Nepali Congress or the UML were all responsible for taking up arms at one time or other. Therefore, we should trust the Maoists when they say that they will lay down their arms.

Social conflicts need to be resolved before the violent conflict is resolved. We should not trust external negotiators as they have their own agenda.

We have not brought the conflict victims forward in conflict management.

The two ways to resolve the conflict-- political forces within the Constitution and the King should come together. If the King does not come, other forces should come together. Otherwise, conflict cannot be resolved.

Anuj Mishra: Conflict is getting multipolar. We need to make it bipolar. The Monarchy has not been addressed here. Constitutional forces should come together. If political parties can come together with the monarchy, why not with the Maoists?

A government including the King, the parties and the Maoists need to be formed to come out of the problem. We cannot sidetrack democracy.

Ghananath Ojha: The Maoist 40-point demand and other later documents and government responses should have been put together and analysed and presented today for discussions. These theoretical concepts provided in the paper are available in books also. Similarly, the examples should have been relevant.

If the Maoist problem is part of the international movement, our perspective and remedies should be similar. National issues can be tackled nationally.

Regarding Shanker Pokhrel's comment about Maoists being transformable, we believe that negotiation can transform the negotiating parties, if transformation was not expected, there would be no negotiation.

Balram Kapad: The paper should be written in the layman's language. It talks about failure of government. Mahendra Lawoti has written about minorities being completely excluded in the past 12 years. He also sees the Madhesis as minorities. Madhesis have not been included in negotiations.

Negotiations should take place between those with full powers, not with those with delegated powers.

The priority is to have a peaceful and sovereign country. Other priorities can follow.

Shambhu Shumsher Rana: The present status of Maoists and also the unified command concept followed by the government should have also been included in the paper. Various Indian books have come out regarding the Maoist conflict. They should also have been included.

The road map or the action plan should have been there for us to discuss.

Parashuram Ghimire: In 2007, the Ranas, the Nepali Congress and the King came into agreement. India was behind the agrement. In 2046, two parties were there to negotiate. Even Indian involvement was seen through a blockade they had imposed on Nepal. Today, monarchy, Maoists and parties are tussling for power.

We are talking of preventing the external hand, forgetting the history of its continuous presence. Therefore, I call on the UN to help us in the negotiations.

Bishwamani Pokhrel: I want to know who wrote the paper and in what context?


Reply by Rajbhandari

I will answer to the technicalities and then leave the rest to Karna Thapa to answer. The paper was written three months ago because the seminar was to have been organised then. Now we do not have the author to reply to the queries regarding that. We have mentioned the social problems and political problems that have given rise to the Maoist violence. Still there is room for dialogue if the constitutional forces are willing to resolve the problems.

Reply by Karna Bahadur Thapa
Prem Singh Dhami, four days before he had died, had said that the parties will never come together on the Maoist issue. They will cry out only when their own workers are killed. And that has proved to be prophetic.

There is no confusion in the Maoist vision, only us on the state-side have. Regarding prevention to future violence, socio-economic issues have been dubbed as minor by Maoists in Hapure.

Foreign run media's role in playing against the national interest has been continuous. They have come to erode the nation-state. You need the media, but no one has the right to work against the national interest.

The army will not go to kill their fellow citizens when liars and deceivers want them to do it. For them to be moved out of their barracks, the constitutional provisions had to be activated and Article 118 was the only way to do so. They were mobilized when 118 was activated.

Nilamber Acharya: The paradox is that Nepal was to lead the international movement of the Maoists, something more prosperous countries could not. The Maoist problem can only be resolved with democracy. It is because of divided democratic forces that non-democratic forces raised their head. So democracy has not failed. Just because the Maoists have succeeded a little should not mean that they are right. To understand the Maoists one should look at how the Maoist workers are being cultured and reared. Maoist state structure also needs to be studied if the problem is to be resolved.

For a resolution, democratic forces should unite and talk with the Maoists. The King had agreed to vest sovereignty in the people but if the King breaks his word, how long will the people remain committed to the constitutional monarchy?

A peace mission compromising all the political forces and organisations should be formed which can handle the peace issues. A permanent secretariat will help in that direction.


SESSION II
Coordinator: Madhav Kumar Nepal
Paper: Identifying Alternative Negotiating Procedures
Presenter: Subodh Pyakurel
Commentator: Shivahari Dahal


Comment by Shivahari Dahal

The paper is more professional than academic. The paper praises democracy that opens up many options for resolution during times of conflict. It also says that certain democratic features such as participation have not been practiced. The author also looks at the sources of conflict and then says that negotiation helps resolve conflict in a sound manner. He has also described the elements of the state structure like, autonomy, decentralization etc.

The paper would do better still, if the root cause had been defined, not just the general causes. Until the root cause is identified, resolution is not possible. Is it the state structure or traditional institutions that have been the root cause.

It has to be made clear that the reason political parties took up arms in the past has not been resolved yet. So the Maoists appear to be going after the same end by taking up arms.

The state structure needs to change after the negotiations and that should be the agenda in the coming talks. Ours is a state in the making, it is not yet a state. The society is yet to democratize. And, parties are not the only culprit in mismanaging everything.

The paper only looks at the Maoist conflict but not the trilateral conflict among the parties, the Maoists and the King.

Madhav Kumar Nepal: At the moment there is no basis for the dialogue process to start. If the King moves ahead in spite of that, it is not going to be good for the country. An all-party government, however, is different. It will be a legitimate government that can take the country towards a new direction with restructuring.

FLOOR

Bharat Pokhrel: The paper needs corrections on data e.g. literacy rate. If NC and UML are center-left, who is in the centre? What about RPP and Sadhbhavana?

What does the author mean by 'ground zero'? The paper also has inconsistencies in citation. Who do you include in the 'untouchables' category? The bibliography should include only the citated material and not more.

Shambhu Shamsher Rana: The South African model for public-private partnership is relevant for us also. While talking about the three parties to the conflict, you need to include also other actors, like the donors. The state has yet to fight the ideological battle with the Maoists. The Unified Command concept is a Peruvian example.

Balram Kapad: The unification of Nepal made Nepal a country, not a state as we could not include all the ethnic groups. Secondly, seminar paper writers are only urban dwellers and they talk about redistribution of land in rural areas which is valued far less than urban property. And they do not discuss urban property in their redistribution scheme. Third, we have been talking about decentralization since 2018. What is wrong with federalization? Why do we not discuss it?

Shanker Pokhrel: Democratization did not take place the way it should after the 1991 constitution was drafted. There was too much competition during the transition phase. The Nepali Congress initiated Congressization.

Regarding the army, Nepali Congress never wanted to make the army a part of the state. Nepali Congress and UML had a rivalry in making appointments to the constitutional bodies. This made the bodies partisan. The court's contradictory decisions have also been one of the reasons of conflict. Therefore, one of the alternatives should be to restructure the state.

Raghu Pant: It is not timely at the moment to search for a negotiated settlement. This is a time of war. When the two sides are fatigued, then dialogue would make sense. The Maoists have been talking of a forward-looking resolution while the King is trying to usurp power like in the Panchayat days. He is seeking the support of the political parties in this.

Until the Maoists realize that resolution is possible through dialogue, there is no use in talking about negotiation. Even in the best Indian state regarding land reform, West Bengal, Naxalites still exist. They will have to forego the belief that violence can achieve their ends.

Anuj Mishra: The paper is devoid of the geo-political element and the monarchy. Mahakali treaty had to be signed by a nationalist party. Similar is the case with donor dependency. All this has to do with geopolitics. Calling for the civil society's role in governance can also mean donor-driven mentality.

I remember a concert by a rock band that represented all the ethnic groups which had the stadium jam-packed, the largest gathering of people in one spot after 1990. Non-territorial federalism makes no sense.

Shyam Kumar: In a multiparty democracy, it is the minority that rules the majority, not vice versa. Conflict management is a management topic and politicians are not good at managing things.

Bidur KC: Politicans need to learn their lessons. Political inefficiency is one of the main causes of the conflict. The parties need to come together.

Raman Raj Mishra: We need to think of the new problems now as new ones have started coming up. But we are still talking about old problems. How do we employ those being employed by the conflict, after it is over? The victims of violence and rehabilitation etc. should be discussed.

In the past, the sword resolved the conflicts in the Rana days. After 2007, the Ranas gave up their powers. King Birendra too gave up his absolute power. Why can't we do the same with the Maoists? We could either suppress them or let them go and do what they want with the state.

On the one hand, we criticise the politician, while on the other, we continue taking them as our leaders. This is not helpful.
If parties cannot manage intra-party conflict how can they unite for the national cause?

Instead of looking at old issues about how the Maoists came about, it is time we analyze the problems that have come up in the past eight years.

Pancha Maharjan: Criticising the party means that it is an opportunity to reform. It should not be taken otherwise. You have cited 'failure of democracy' as the reason for the power vacuum. It is our attitude that has failed, not democracy. Elections are a corrupt process and need to be taken care of through the Constitution. This should not be taken as a criticism of the party. You say that complex administrative processes leads to corruption. In fact, the complexity was manufactured for corruption. I do see the feasibility of the Ethnic Assembly, through proportional representation. Intellectuals have been attacked for not going against the King. I have written against the monarchy and Hachchetu has done it too. It is only the parties that do not follow up. So stop attacking intellectuals.

Shastra Datta Pant: The seminar is out of place as it was conceived during the ceasefire and should be treated as such. Parties in developed countries have caught up with popular aspiration in developed countries and they always have their ear to the ground. But in Nepal, Nepali political leaders think that they are the people themselves and not just mere representatives.

In Nepal, the Bihari practice of politicising students and engaging them in destructive activities is rampant, not in developed countries. Also people are continuously brought out in the streets wrenching them away from their own work. Politicians have been taking advice from foreign countries in every party. Civil society organisations too have been taking their cue from foreigners.

Shyam Prasad Adhikari: The Maoists, the parties and the King appear the most prominent actors in the conflict. The author has not been able to play the role model in spite of his involvement in a human rights organisation.

Achyut Bahadur Rajbhandari: The more alternatives you have, the wider the field of negotiations. Pyakurel has listed some points, the Maoists have presented their 40 points. One cannot discuss pointwise, so they need to be grouped. The next step is to see what is necessary-legal reform, policies or structural changes? If it is possible to do something it is negotiable, if not, then it is not negotiable. Pyakurel has tried to do his bit.

Shivahari Adhikari: Pyakurel has given some options.

Reply by Subodh Pyakurel

  • The paper is just an initiation of the discussion, not a prescription. The paper only talks about conflict transformation, not management.
  • Parties are criticised as we expect some reform there.
  • I identify one as left of centre when I see someone talking of social welfare.
  • I have used untouchability just the way Bhattachan has used.
  • The Parliament should be making the parameters of proportional representation, not anyone else.
  • I believe that we need to compete with the Maoists in our social transformation agenda.
  • No matter how much we criticise the King, it is our own behaviour that has made the King what he is.
  • Naxalites have not been active since land reform was initiated in W. Bengal.
  • I recommend non-territorial federalism as territory comes with ethnic and other big issues that cannot be handled.
  • Political parties could not go to the village but the German envoy could.

Madhav Kumar Nepal: If we identify four tendencies then it becomes easy to understand what needs to be done-- fundamentalism, extreme-left, right of centre and left of centre. Today, power is hung between extreme leftists and extreme rightists. The prescription should have been left-of-centre today.

Maoists have taken up ethnic, regional, gender, and other representational issues. What are the solutions? We need to find them to come to a successful resolution. The main root lies in poverty and discrimination. This is where the ultra-leftists were able to advance as they capitalized on the foreign assistance and domestic sympathy.

The paper blames the parties as the main culprit. This is utterly untrue. It looks like the paper itself has been influenced by NGOs. NGOs themselves are influenced by the foreign aid they receive.

SESSION III
Coordinator: Ridayesh Tripathy
Paper: Framework for a Systematic negotiating procedure
Presenter: Bishnu Upreti
Commentator: Sushil Pyakurel

Ridayesh Tripathy: Conflicts were always there. It is violence that has worried us today. Nepal's unification was an attempt to impose a culture on others. The state is unitary in nature. No Madhesis are employed by the army. We have multiparty instead of non-party system, but the state is still unitary. So the violence is timely as it will wake up people from their historical slumber.

We are against land reform because it did not redistribute land to the landless. Landless were brought from elsewhere and given land.
The Tharus used to run away when a policeman came, but today Tharu women are very much part of the People's Militia.

The good news is that secessionist movements have not taken place thus far. The centralized state needs to federalize. Unless these causes of conflict are resolved, future conflicts will always remain.

Violence may have been used to climb the rungs of power by some. It will therefore be necessary for them to climb down through the same route.

Comment by Sushil Pyakurel
The paper is an academic exercise. There is no dispute regarding the principles, but when it comes to practice, we do not know what to do. We see the King being taken as a power, but there is no way of democratizing the monarchy. How do we constitutionalize monarchy? The paper does not touch upon the issue.

The Maoists gave up many of their demands and came down to just one- the constituent assembly. But the King has not budged. He has only said that he will be a constitutional monarch.

I agree that there was no sincerity with regards to the last peace talks from which both the parties backed out. When the Maoists came for dialogue, everyone rushed to welcome them. This is our weakness-- of going after those who are about to reach the status of power. We tend to forget and forgive their past mis-doings.

The government is saying that the dialogue door is open and at the same time issuing the Interpol Red Corner notice in their name. Does this all not show that we want to continue civil war?

We need to strengthen rule of law. Prescriptions should be practical. We need to make parties accountable, the army accountable, but not marginalise them.

FLOOR

Bharat Pokhrel: The monarch's democratization is not possible. There is fear in inviting external mediators as they apply the formula of "steal it or I will call you a thief."

In Nepal, religious organizations are not strong enough to exert pressure for peace negotiations.

Karna B Thapa: In a negotiation, qualified people are involved, information is taken from think tanks and events are well analyzed anticipating their consequences. We have neither think tanks nor even a strategic studies center. This is the reason we don't have security analysts.

The army is involved in conflict mitigation because Maoists have used hard power against innocent people and targeted development infrastructures.

External involvement erodes the national policy space. Some foreigners are fearful of the success of the Unified Command concept-the reason that inspired visits by Pashupati Rana and Madhav Kumar Nepal to India.

We must, however, understand that retreat of the state from society does not enhance the security of the people. We need national consensus to transform the conflict and a Peace Council to facilitate the process.

Anuj Mishra: We are looking for a sovereign space but somebody is guiding our politics from behind the scenes. There is an attitude of all the forces to look to the south. Without allaying India's fears, can we go ahead with the peace process? In every political change in Nepal, India is entangled. India is also a fulcrum for the equation of our political forces. They derive their legitimacy from India. This is the reason political parties are not coming in one place. If this is the case, we must expose the hidden agenda.

Shyam Kumar: We need parimary data for conflict analysis. Why are the Maoists, instead of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party, are expanding into the Tarai? What are the causative factors?

Raman Raj Mishra: When political parties themselves are locked into conflict how can they forge consensus with others?

Reply by Bishnu Upreti
We must start from something rather than becoming pessimistic about the national scenario. I have talked about conflict management rather than security. India's intention is not good regarding this. During crises in Nepal, India seeks concessions.

We should also see policy options during conflict management. There should be systematic analysis of the conflict in Nepal to seek its resolution. The conflict got escalated in Nepal when political parties did not play a constructive role following the declaration of the state of emergency. Now, there is a new situation.

 
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