to Democratic Peace
Dev Raj Dahal
Following the signing of Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA), many people assumed that Nepal has
entered post-conflict phase. But, the unending bargaining
by incumbent political parties for more power and state
positions, movement-oriented social, economic, territorial
and ethnic actors for representation and armed non-state
actors acting at their own free wills indicate that politics
is totally at liberty from the rule of law.
In a condition of security vacuum neither
peace building nor democratisation process can proceed.
The government has also failed to outlaw violence as Nepali
citizens increasingly realise that even the state of no-war-no-peace
they have enjoyed so far was a fragile thing.
The open-ended nature of Nepal's conflict
and its geopolitical milieu are reinforcing each other's
propensity for escalation. Many autonomous conflict actors
are stacked on macro actorsthe SPA and CPN (Maoists)
on a scale of cooperation, competition and conflict depending
on their interests and setting the dynamic cycles and counter-cycle
of violence in motion.
An open conflict system does not help
much to maintain the stability of the state, its polity
and policy executing agency, the government. This demonstrates
that Nepal's conflict system is moving from state-centric
conflict to society-centric. This has made it more complex.
As a result, political transition in Nepal is in a state
of perpetual imbalance.
The tendency of monopolising power by
a few political elites has made the heterogeneous actors
of society non-stakeholders of peace accord. In a condition
where every actor is fearful of its rivals, it is difficult
to entrench security, property and dignity of citizens and
expand the development space other than just relief and
Breaking the conflict trap, requires not
just the escape routes and shifting responsibilities to
others, but a concrete political measure to break the trap
of poverty, fast economic recovery and coordinated behavior
in the implementation of the polices of peace accord. Is
it possible without the transformation of political parties
and democratisation of civil society from personalised to
mass-based? How can synergies of these two be captured for
stable state-party ties?
The Nepali government has lost its unified
sovereignty due to its incapacity for governance, inability
to compress the growth of competitive violence, unrestrained
birth of a neo-patrimonial culture and erosion of policy
sovereignty. The interim constitution, without enforcing
power, is but words, and of no strength to secure human
rights of Nepali citizens. As long as this state of affairs
prevails and anti-political deadlocks remain unresolved,
the government cannot bring the forces of reaction, reform
and revolution into a framework of peace.
Social learning of actors of conflict
is a must to know the successes and failures of various
policies and changing nature of context, issues, rules and
actors. It allows producing and distributing policy-relevant
knowledge to various national and international actors who
are engaged to overcome peace building challenges and examine
The role of civil society and various
political parties in promoting security should be critically
analysed to see whether they contribute to human security
or are engaged in anti-state discourse that fosters lawless
frontiers to penalise the weak, poor, women and children.
Integration of various sources of feedback including the
role of women and victims of conflict is central to change
the structures, behavior and beliefs of actors of conflict.
For any peace-building activity to be
successful those in national leadership positions and the
society at large must have to play an innovative role for
constructive change because timely change in political process
makes conflict redundant. But, support of international
stakeholders for their capacity building is a must to build
the foundation of sustainable peace. The growing crisis
of governability can be resolved by changing the power relations
from monopoly and control to reconciliation and coexistence.
Peace building is more than signing peace
accord. The honest execution of the provisions of peace
accord helps the government to understand which policies
work best under various changing conditions. Peace building
in the context of high political dynamics requires extensive
discussion of the various aspects of the peace-building
process, rules and institutions and the critical challenges
to addressing them. Four strategies are crucial to a peace
building in Nepal:
Firstly, in a heterogeneous society, balance of interests
of politically significant groups rather than monopoly of
power by a few organised interest groups can contribute
to political stability. The role of international community
as high-leverage actor lies in balancing act, that is, taking
the side of weaker ones and enlisting their stake in peace.
Secondly, cooperation of heterogeneous
actors in peace requires the optimisation of interests of
all actors rather than maximisation of a few powerful ones.
Combined value generated by all is more powerful to prevent
the collapse of state and enable it to perform basic state
functions on governance. To achieve peace, powerful actors
should not annihilate the less powerful ones but should
provide incentives for cooptation into the established order.
Nepal's historiography reveals that it
is a country of minorities and there are no institutional
mechanisms to prevent minorities becoming a majority in
the future. A balance between the government and opposition
and minority and majority is a prerequisite to maintain
peace and stability.
Thirdly, establishment of a mechanism
to foster overlapping interests of all for the invention
of a common ground is important for the coordination of
goals and means of various actors. Lastly, acquisition,
use and transfer of power must follow democratic principles
so that opponents trust the rules of the game and pin a
hope on the possibility to return to power non-violently.
This helps to establish a culture of peace. Sustainable
peace can be achieved by peaceful means tied by general
will of all for the common good.
Note: This article was published
in the News Front Weekly( 15-28 October 2007)