Fair rules for conflict resolution Inclusion in the constitution

Conflict is defined in many ways. Notwithstanding the various ways it is interpreted , it refers to a situation where two parties see their goals and perspectives as mutually incompatible and opposite .Conflict has two aspects . One aspect of the conflict is creative while other aspect is destructive. To talk of the negative side of the conflict, it is a source of violence and destroys human relationships. It blocks the road to progress. It ruins the possibilities of social advancement. On the other side, conflict carries out positive function as well. It reveals and brings to fore the issues that are rooted in unjust and unequal social relationships and structures.

Conflict arises and manifests where structures and institutions create social imbalances and injustices. It exacerbates and perpetuates if state institutions are unjust , oppressive and discriminatory. It is said that the potential for conflict exists in a society with its members having different socioeconomic conditions and needs. Such an uneasy and socially threatening situation can be mitigated and socioeconomic contradictions remedied only if the issues giving rise to conflict are mapped out in totality and dialogues are held to resolve them through consensus and mutual acceptance.

According to John Galtung — world renowned expert on conflict transformation through peaceful means — the emphatic dialogues need to be held with all parties having stakes in conflict. Moreover, acceptable goals need to be worked out by stakeholders themselves to arrive at solution to conflict. Solution to conflict has to be crafted by setting new institutional norms and rules. While framing the new institutional norms and rules, care needs to be taken to ensure that the incompatible and incongruent issues that breed conflict have to be supplanted by the newer ones. The new institutional design should redress grievances by instituting the agreed and consented rules of the game — both substantive and procedural — so as to assure that the issues and processes leading to incompatibility and conflict are redressed and resolved.

Here in lies the importance of the constitution writing especially in the country that has recently emerged out from the armed conflict .As the old institutional order is bound to change giving place to new, the constitution should reflect the dynamics and situation, process and outcome of change and transformation. What is important in this context is the allowance for a widened and deepened space for all stakeholders setting forth the basis and principles of governance. The paramount stakeholders in the context of writing the constitution are citizens - the plural public- who should participate in the process for designing the new basic law of the land called superior institutional rules of the game to govern the country. Unless critical discourse and deliberation is conducted across all levels of the plural public to derive their inputs and secure their free and meaningful participation in shaping the new constitutional order, it is not possible to impart ownership and authorship to the people in designing new national compact. It resides in the people- the sovereign authority- to frame, adopt and enact the constitutional provisions and outcomes by themselves or through their delegates . Moreover, once people participate in the constitution building process and raise the potential issues lying at the root of the conflict, provisions for new institutional design to resolve the conflict can be discussed and instituted.

Nelson Mandela compares the constitution writing to jotting the autobiography of a nation. Needless to say, who else can write in a honest and truest spirit the autobiography of a nation-an euphemism of the constitution- than the people themselves. In South Africa despite the fact that a popularly elected multiracial constituent assembly was in place to draft the new constitution, people's participation in constitution building process was allowed using and tapping multiple channels and methodologies. It is said that around two million civic submissions were presented to the constituent assembly in South Africa is an example of the participatory process for constitution building in the country. The rules of the game established in the South African constitution was accepted by all the citizens plurals- races, ethnics and tribes laying to rest the possibilities for major armed conflicts and discontents in that country. Though South Africa has not been able to address socio- economic problems as exemplified by poverty and unemployment yet to be redressed , among others, its constitutional order is the epitome of participatory process in fabricating national unity and social order. None can fault the South African constitution for the basis it has laid to resolving multi racial conflicts at different levels. Needless to say South Africa was embroiled in the multiracial conflicts for centuries costing dearly on national unity and development.

In Nepal we need to learn from these examples that offer democratic spaces to the people to participate in the constitution writing process that is currently going on in the country.

Let people speak about what they want to be written in the constitution — that set forth the fair rules of the game or even playing field for all people.