NEW YORK, May 21, 2008 – Nepal's successful Constituent Assembly election on April 10 marked a critical milestone in the country's peace process following a decade of armed conflict. However, much work remains for the new government in mapping its political future. To discuss the immediate challenges facing Nepal's new government, Asia Society and the India China Institute at The New School hosted Ian Martin, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Nepal and Head of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). The program was moderated by Leon J. Weil, former US Ambassador to Nepal.
Martin shared his first-hand expertise heading UNMIN's involvement with Nepal's Election Commission and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Despite troubling incidents of intimidation during the election, Martin lauded the respect for quotas that resulted in greater proportional representation of Nepal's various ethnic groups, as well as women, in the Constituent Assembly.
Martin emphasized that while the formation of the Constituent Assembly is a historic achievement, it is only the first step in a process of forging a lasting peace. He outlined the formidable challenges ahead, which include the tasks of drafting a new constitution; reconciling differing views on how federalism should be interpreted; empowering minority groups and others who have been historically marginalized; integrating the two existing armies; and lastly, addressing the wounds left from decades of violence, kidnapping, and impunity from prosecut ion.
Reported by Laura Chang
Audience Q & A with Ian Martin
The future role of the UN in Nepal (2 min., 44 sec.)
The challenge of prosecuting human rights crimes (3 min., 17 sec.)
Listen to the complete program (57 min., 27 sec.)