Report on Challenges of Violent Conflict
to Peace Transition
Organised by Asian Media Forum (AMF)
18 December 2009
It was a meaningful exercise that reflected
the spirit of concern and partnership for peace and democracy
in Nepal. Towards the end of the Year, the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung
(FES), well known German political foundation and Asia Media Foundation
(AMF) that campaigns for and promotes ethical journalism delved
deep how peace and functioning democracy were vital for an ethnical
and professional media to flourish. And the conclusion was : conflict
transformation and consolidation of Peace was an essential condition
Representatives of the Media, academics and social movements participated
in the lively half-day long discussion in which FES country director
Devraj Dahal set the tone for the day's agenda. In his presentation-Conflict
transformation and Peace Process in Nepal, Dahal said Nepal's
peace process-an instrument for conflict transformation-reflects
a commitment to international order that the state sovereignty's
accountability to human rights standard is the key to justice
But the conflict transformation in a
weak state, he said, is affected by the causes of human rights
violation as victims of violence demand justice before peace
, and that pursuit of transitional justice based on quest for
revenge can obstruct a search for post- conflict reconciliation
. And the effect of pursuit of peace without addressing the
root and proxy causes of conflict will be the same.
That aptly dissected the causes of Nepal's
peace process passing through uncertainty. In the local context'
he said "-the state sovereignty is bifurcated between conflicting
parties and citizens have more interest to the parties in conflict
than the political system and the state. Erosion if the state
capacity to organize the societal forces allowed the latter's
anti-systemic orientation", fostering a culture of clientalism.
This, he said, has created a condition for the international
peace building community to effectively engage in conflict prevention
He emphasized that there was need to
produce indigenous knowledge and use it for effective transformation
of the conflict , depending less on outsiders. In his brief
intervention, Bimal Phuyal, Country Director of Action Aid Nepal
said application of indigenous knowledge with western expertise
would be much more effective way of conflict transformation
and peace building as well.
Asserting that challenges have grown
manifold, Prof Dahal said the conflict energy generated by state-centric
Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) 's peoples war for
social transformation has spilled across diverse society opening
and igniting many fault-line conflicts -ethnic , territorial
, caste-based and geo-political.
Delving on the decade long conflict situation,
Dahal the involvement of the international community in the
conflict transformation and peace building has no doubt gained
Nepalis support, the situation has also driven a large number
of youths abroad seeking jobs there. As a result, their sense
of ownership to their own country is on the decline and they
are more concerned about the situation in the Middle East, Malaysia
and various western countries as they offer them the bread and
livelihood. Diluted sense of ownership affects the quality of
nationalism as well.
Turning on media , Dahal said the challenges
and opportunities are too vast for the Nepali media now as political
actors commitment to take the peace and the constitution making
process to its logical end are still being met with doubts.
"Nepal's political system now is maladjusted to both internal
tension and external environment. This is partly caused by conflicting
ideologies and partly by conflicting vision of a political system,
such as democratic republic versus People's Republic and conflicting
means such as "democratic alliance" of Nepali Congress
versus "republic- patriotic alliance" of CPN-Maoists."
Responding to a query from Puran Bista, Treasurer
of the Asia Media Forum about the growing polarization of politics-between
the Maoists and the non-Maoist parties-he said it is getting
'theory-infused' dialectic in the current context of Nepali
politics. Leaders of the left political classes claim themselves
people-oriented, progressive and superior putting the rivals
in a less pro-people and less-progressive category, making the
peace building exercise more complicated. Yet, the pursuit of
constructive dialogue is far bigger and desirable, he said.
Quoting Habermas' Dahal said the civilized life would be impossible
without public use of reason for reconciliation.
He said managing multiple transitions within
a law-governed political order, it is essential to link the
drivers, actors and stake-holders of the conflict system into
a rational frame-work and muster necessary resources for joint
development projects for nation-building ". And his prescription
to the media was: one sided attack on the actor of the peace
process-even for just reasons-- may at times discourage them
and that calls for a cautious approach.
Media practitioners expressed their concern
more on the state of the media , and their 'blatant affiliation
to one or the other sides' when polarization-almost on political,
etnic and regional basis. Gunaraj Luitel and Kiran Bhandari-both
of Nagarik daily expressed said media was showing a tendency
of behaving 'we are above accountability manner' by writing
or broadcasting news -even defamatory-without any proof or evidences.
"At times, their whole defense of what they produce is
based on the fact that it has not yet been contradicted".
There were also concerns raised about the growing interferences
and threat on the media from various organized groups and individuals.
Rajaram Gautam of Kantipur daily suggested that it will always
be useful for the media to understand the nature of threats
and interference. The senior journalists with their long experience
would do well in sharing such experiences.
Yubaraj Ghimire, President of the Asia Media
Forum said the threat to the media is not over even though the
phase of conflict is over. But professional and ethical media
suffers the most from organized groups-political or otherwise-as
well as from the corporate set up of the media house themselves
. "Lack of accountability, presence of yellow journalism
, absence of effective Press council and libel laws were largely
responsible for this kind of trend flourishing in the media"
He also spoke about the need to define 'who are journalists".
Ghimire said media in no way should be dictated or influenced
by the current tendencies of hatred and intolerance.
In her welcome speech, AMF Vice chair person
Aarti Chataut expressed concern over women being targeted as
object of media gossips with no way to get the justice. AMF
would encourage journalists to get training and not compromise
on the ethical side of journalism.
Thanking Dahal and other participants as well
as FES support to AMF in its campaign for promoting ethical
journalism, AMF General Secretary Shiva Gaunle said a dangerous
drift has arisen in the media. The journalist bodies also should
be clear what exactly the journalists are supposed to be doing
and what they are not 'supposed to be doing".