Civil Society organizations map out Nepal’s transition to a federation

Participants at a workshop in Kathmandu discuss plans for Nepal’s transition to a federal state.

Nepali experts and representatives from 16 international non-government and donor organizations met in Kathmandu recently to discuss plans for Nepal’s impending transition to a federal state from a unitary state.

Nepal was a monarchy until 1990. It was embroiled in a 10-year civil war that ended in 2006 with the signing of a so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The following year, the interim parliament decreed that the new republic of Nepal would adopt a federal system of government.

As a result, the Forum of Federations is helping Nepali stakeholders broaden their understanding of federal concepts as the local actors design the country’s new constitution, which is to be adopted in 2010.

In the most recent of such events, participants expressed the need, both for broader public education and for the inclusion of Nepalis who work outside the political sphere, to participate in planning the changeover.

Key points raised at the meeting were the eventual transformation of the civil service and judiciary and that a thorough needs-assessment will be required for the constituent units, a generic term used to describe what are often called "states » or "provinces » in established federations.

To ensure an effective transition, participants agreed the process must be planned, sequenced, transparent; and the ideal of ‘do no harm’ must be upheld; and that conflict resolution mechanisms should be included in each element of the program.

The Forum is the co-chair of a body called the Sub-Group on Federalism and Systems of Government. Other members are the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the German Technical Corporation (GTZ) and the United Nations Development Programme.

The sub-group is part of a larger body that brings donors together to ensure that effective support is provided to the constitution-drafting process. That larger body is called the Constitution Building Support Coordination Group

The meeting took place on May 8, 2009.

The Forum’s work in Nepal is funded by the SDC and GTZ. They are providing the Forum with $500,000 to carry out the capacity-building work. The SDC’s financial support extends until March 31, 2011, while GTZ’s runs until later in 2009.

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