World expert provides advice to framers of Nepal’s new constitution

Dr. Watts with Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba

Dr. Ron Watts, one of the world’s leading federalism experts, recently met with a wide range of Nepali officials to discuss challenges ahead for Nepal to take on a federal system of government.

Dr. Watts held meetings with the President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav; and with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

He also met with the leaders of the major political parties, including:
• Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, the second in command of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, and
• Girija Prasad Koirala, president of the Nepali Congress Party.

In the meetings, Professor Watts explored how federal systems of government can strengthen central institutions and processes, in addition to creating and defining the borders and powers of Nepal’s new provincial or state governments.

Nepal’s political parties are currently debating among each other and with emerging political and social movements, calling for increased autonomy and other rights for many of the country’s more than 100 ethnic groups. To address this demand, Watts provided comparative examples of how other federal governments have managed issues of diversity and faced other challenges such as economic disparities and divisions resulting from geography and uneven resource allocation.

Dr. Watts also met with representatives of the diplomatic and donor community in support of the Forum’s ongoing program in Nepal, funded by the Swiss Development Corporation. The program is meant to assist elected officials of all parties who are engaged in drafting the country’s new constitution. The recently elected Constituent Assembly is tasked to complete this work by May, 2010.

Dr. Watts is a co-founder and Fellow of the Forum of Federations. His visit to Nepal took place from Nov. 3-7, 2009.

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