Will Nepal’s election to United Nations body benefit global human rights?

MartyBlogNepalHRC_211017

A cartoon from issue 702 of Nepali Times (11-17 April 2014). It depicts former Prime Minister Girija P Koirala (left) and former Maoist leader Pushpa K Dahal.

Nepal has successfully won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, the senior-most human rights body among the world’s governments.

The Himalayan nation was elected for a two-year term during the recent UN General Assembly, despite a rocky human rights record at home. This includes setting up commissions to probe alleged human rights abuses during the 1996-2006 Maoist uprising that fail to meet global standards, and ignoring orders from Nepal’s Supreme Court to fix them.

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Rights at home first

MartyLogan_NepalHumanRightsCouncil_101017The consensus among human rights experts who I interviewed recently is that Nepal should fix its own human rights record before bidding for a seat on the United Nations human rights council—or at least do both simultaneously. Continue reading

Nepal building back too slowly, or as expected?

Nepal earthquake

(c) Kunda Dixit, Nepali Times

Nepal faces a lot of challenges, not least of which is rebuilding after the earthquakes of 2015. Add to that the very long, ongoing political transition and, as of last week, disastrous flooding in the south.

So, I often ask myself: how fair it is to criticise one of the world’s poorest countries for progressing so slowly on certain issues? (And reminding myself that Nepal has made great strides in some areas, such as the health of mothers and newborns). This may be one of those questions that I’ll never answer satisfactorily and for now I’ll fall back on the opinions of others. Continue reading

Time stands still for Nepal’s conflict victims

Suman Adhikari poses with a photo of his father Muktinath,

Suman Adhikari poses with a photo of his father Muktinath, one of the 17,000 victims of Nepal’s conflict, 1996-2006.

I set out to write an article about the vision underlying Nepal’s transitional justice (TJ) process — was the focus on truth, reparations, justice? etc. — but I quickly understood that any such theorizing was quickly overtaken by political leaders’ desire to use TJ to absolve them of responsibility.

Instead, I focused on some of the victims in this article for IPS News. I understand that efforts are being made to draft amendments to the laws creating the truth and disappearance commissions. If anyone has details, contact me.

“Reconstruction and reconciliation require finances and physical structure, but the families of the victims of the conflict first and foremost need their integrity protected. Physical and financial compensation mean little without justice,” wrote Suman Adhikari nearly 11 years ago, during a ceasefire in Nepal’s Maoist insurgency. Continue reading

Conflict victims a casualty of Nepal’s transitional justice process

2006 People's Movement

Praying for Peace

I recently reviewed a report by the Nepal office International Centre for Transitional Justice and Martin Chautari, a think-tank in Kathmandu. The focus was what ‘truth’ means for victims of the 10-year Maoist insurgency. I wrote:

Referring to the dysfunctional truth and disappearance commissions the report says: ‘So far only a relatively narrow constituency of two broadly opposing sides has been involved in debates. Among national and international NGOs, human rights lawyers, and victims’ groups, the dominant discourse has focused on the demand for individual criminal accountability, while government leaders and representatives of the major political parties and security forces have worked to ensure that criminal prosecution and trials are completely off the table.’

Read my full article on the website of Nepali Times.

I’ve written previously about the conflict and its victims, including this blog post.

Fired up over tobacco in Nepal

A No Smoking activist approaches a man smoking during a campaign in Kathmandu in 2011. (c) RECPHEC

My latest article for Nepali Times hearkens back to my days as Communications Manager for the global NGO, Framework Convention Alliance:

Earlier this month, Health Minister Gagan Thapa told a workshop of South Asian activists fighting tobacco use that Nepal would adopt plain packaging of cigarettes in 2018 and make the country tobacco-free by 2030. Revealed just weeks before World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, the minister’s timing was great, but what about the content of his message?

Read the full article.

In-depth reporting on Nepal’s elections

Most English-language media in Kathmandu reporting on ongoing local elections have limited themselves to noting the numerical quotas for low-caste, ‘Dalit’, candidates.

But the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) went a step further by interviewing a group of Dalit women in Saptari district, including candidates, voters and would-be voters. (Why would someone be a ‘would-be’ voter? Click on the article link below to find out). Continue reading