The heterogeneous communities living in the diversified geographic and social terrain in Nepal have their own unique and indigenized way and method to tackle and resolve conflicts . The informal institutions and mechanism have been evolved and created to deal with and handle disputes and disagreements in the communities as part of their historic and traditional governing innovation. But the process of formalization of community relations introduced new dynamics in this respect. Moreover, the intermingling of groups
different from each other gradually allowed room for state to cross the boundary and enter the arena of dispute and dispute resolution. The formalization of dispute resolution at the
local level has been indeed a contemporary governance architecture and an
outcome of the political development. In Nepal’s case, the local self governance act 1955 made a clear break from the past in several areas, including the dispute resolution . The law embraces , for the first time, a shift from government to governance in many spheres of which the conflict redress and resolution can be included prominently. The involvement and participation of local community has been envisaged not only in political governance and development process and structures but also in such functions as dispute handling and resolution. The village development committees and municipalities have started to take on a meaningful and plausible role in evening out and resolving local conflicts and contradictions through participation of the local community. The role of local bodies has been, however, limited to coordination and facilitating an enabling environment where as core dispute resolution function is handled by the panel of mediators (Melmilapkarta) drawn from the wider community in the VDC .
However, not all VDCs and municipalities have the advantage of putting the conflict resolving mechanism composed of mediators drawn from the community in place. This mechanism though provided in the law has been established only in the local bodies, especially VDCs and municipalities where external development partners have made resources, skills and other necessary wherewithal available and continued their support till the established mechanism sustains to deliver services for resolving disputes and sorting out disagreements.
This can be described as a mechanism and process of devolved justice system where the role of the central adjudicative and legal mechanism is not called for, if not needed when it comes to resolving interpersonal social conflicts and disputes. But the local bodies that are currently receiving and utilizing the support to create local mediation service mechanism across the country are negligible in number not even worth counting. In this context mention must be made of the fact that the local governance institutions in Nepal lack both institutional capacity and organizational viability to carry out roles and functions stipulated in the local self governance law, not to talk of other various legal instruments that entrust the local bodies to perform a wider variety of sectoral and general functions.
No elected deputies are in place to execute the exhaustive mandates embodied in local self governance law. This has exacted a heavy toll on institutionalization of mediation services, among others, to deal with and redress conflicts in line with the provision of
the law and consequent needs in the local communities . The local self governance law mandates the VDCs and municipalities to create mechanism to help resolve disputes not through recourse to adversarial contest characterized by the ascertainment of wrong or right, innocent or culprit, but using negotiation based methodology and skills
to arrive at a win-win settlement.
However, this legal provision has become possible to come into operation as a reality only in those local bodies where the skilful panels of mediation service providers have been assured and pressed into work with support extended by development partners, including the UN agencies and other international
organizations like The Asia Foundation. The local conflicts and disputes are
resolved with the community of mediators taking
on the role of an impartial process facilitators where the disputing parties themselves are placed at the
critical role to discuss and find solution to their problems and issues tangled
in the disputes. Needless
to say, the mediators stay neutral and unaligned, use the skills and expertise which they learn from the trainings imparted to them on the art and skills of
negotiation and assist the disputing parties to find best solutions to their
problems . The task of mediator is to get the disputing parties unstuck by encouraging them to think “outside of the box “. The mediation has been widely used not only in the communities but also in the judicial and administrative agencies. The courts have started to refer disputes to the mediators for a win-win settlement of the disputes. A new mediation law has been enacted recently to promote and institutionalize mediation. But the implementation is long way off because the supplementary bylaws are yet to be formulated.