Basis for decision

The extended six-month tenure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) expires on July 23. Should it pack up and go or stay on after that? As the chairman of the country’s largest political party, Prahcanda has been asked more than once recently what will happen to UNMIN after that date, and he has said that the CA will decide. But, on May 6, Maoist leader and minister for local development Dev Gurung said at an interaction programme in Kathmandu that the ‘integration’ of the Maoist combatants and the Nepal Army could be carried out without UNMIN. However, he added that as the integration was a national agenda, it would be done after consulting the stakeholders. Both Prachanda and Gurung have said that the integration process of the Maoist combatants will be completed soon. Though Gurung’s hint at non-extension of the UNMIN term is no final word of the state on the question, it conveys the impression that the Maoists may not be in favour of retaining UNMIN any longer.

UNMIN is here at Nepal’s request - the five-point request with similar meaning separately addressed to the UN secretary general by both the Nepal Government and the then rebels (Maoists). Accordingly, the UN Security Council unanimously established UNMIN, through the adoption of Resolution 1740, with clear mandates, which, among other things, tasked it with monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of both sides through a joint monitoring coordinating committee. UNMIN is indeed meant for a limited duration, and the UNSC has expressed its intention of extending or terminating its mandate upon the request of the Nepal Government. It is because of the two postponements of the CA election that its stay was prolonged. So, the new government could send UNMIN packing. The last time the UNMIN term was extended for six months, the interim government had come under powerful pressure not to do so. Similar reports are surfacing even now. But that should form no basis for decision.

UNMIN has already fulfilled most of its most important responsibilities, including monitoring of the management of arms and armed personnel up to this time and of the Constituent Assembly election. Certainly, UNMIN is not to monitor the constitution-writing process or the general election under the new constitution. But, according to UNMIN’s original purpose, it is supposed to see to the completion of the monitoring of the arms and the armies. Until that time arrives, political leaders should not say whether UNMIN should stay on or not. If it should not, they must provide a compelling reason for its premature departure. Who would be responsible for any untoward accident that might happen in its absence, possibly derailing the peace process which is nearing completion? Once UNMIN is gone, the UN is unlikely to send another such mission again, to facilitate peace in Nepal. Particularly at a time when the

domestic political forces still distrust one another, UNMIN will play a monitor’s role in the remaining designated part of the peace process. To make its stay as short as possible, the political parties would be better advised to accomplish the management of the integration process without delay.