UN lobbying for amendments to draft constitution


The United Nations has started lobbying with the national stakeholders to make necessary changes to some of the major provisions of the draft constitution regarding citizenship, women’s rights and population issues as the constituent assembly circulated the document for public comments.

In a letter sent to the Central Department of Population Studies today, Country Office of the United Nations Population Fund has asked the Tribhuvan University faculty for timely intervention in the crucial matter, saying it will have a long bearing on the collaborative work of national stakeholders in the field of population and development in Nepal.

The UN agency noted that timely intervention was needed to replace the ‘and’ provision with ‘or’ to provide the citizenship by descent to the children on the basis of Nepali nationality of both the parents in Article 12 (1, a), which states “persons who have their permanent domicile in Nepal shall be offered Nepali citizenship by descent, if any person whose father and mother was a citizen of Nepal at the birth of such a person.”

Rights activists have already termed that ‘and’ provision would violate Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Child Rights Convection, which Nepal has ratified.

Referring to a recommendation by Centre for Reproductive Rights, the UN body has also suggested that 12 (1, b) should be changed as ‘a person born in Nepal to a Nepali citizen married to a foreign citizen, and has permanent domicile in the country and has voluntarily declared about not acquiring foreign citizenship, shall acquire Nepali citizenship by descent.’

The UNFPA has also asked CDPS to convince CA members for carrying out necessary amendments to the existing provisions of the draft constitution related to population issues, especially the issue on the use of the words ‘Population Control’ in Schedule 6, which, the UN body finds, is against the ICPD principle and mandate and the new right-based National Population Policy.

“UNFPA uses its arguments for necessary amendment in line with the National Population Policy and it is also imperative that CDPS/TU as the premier academic institution on Population Studies reviews the current draft constitution thoroughly and suggests amendments (especially on Population Management vis-à-vis Population Control) immediately to the CA Office,” UNFPA letter states.

The UN agency also highlighted a suggestion mentioning Article 43 (2) should be read as ‘each woman shall have the right to reproduction and reproductive health’ without mentioning ‘foeticide on the basis of identity of gender shall be punishable by law’.

Prof Ram Saran Pathak, Head at the CDPS, confirmed that UNFPA requested the department to lobby with the parliamentarians for necessary changes regarding population and development-related provisions in the draft statute. According to him, CDPS has taken UNFPA suggestion seriously and it would advocate for use of the right language related to population and development by the constitution drafting committee in the final constitution document.