TOPICS: Challenges facing a new Nepal

In general terms, transition implies transformation from one system to another. It is that situation whereby the new system begins due to failure of the existing system and ideology. So it recognises the gap between the old and new systems. But no system can be installed automatically; in reality, putting in place a totally new system takes time for preparation, takeoff and self-sustenance — the three crucial phases of transition. A new system cannot immediately appear effective and strong because of immaturity and lack of supporting institutions and manpower.

Transition directly undermines the rule of law. There is bound to be a lack of confidence due to past experiences of gross rights violations, impunity, lawlessness, homelessness, threat to private property, unemployment, illiteracy and other miseries. These also reflect Nepal’s current reality.

The government institutions are losing their confidence, and new laws, agencies and mechanisms to run the state are just being conceptualised at the policy-making level. The political parties, security forces, judiciary, central government and interim parliament are quarrelling amongst themselves to secure their respective interests and positions. Just like in the past, it is the people who are the victims because of the absence of social justice, law and order, peace and security, not to talk of their desire to have a society free from corruption. The sense of public accountability and commitment towards good governance is still lacking in our politicians.

On the other hand, criminal activities are thriving along with political instability. Unfortunately, neither the political parties, including the Maoists, nor the government have a concrete blueprint for social transformation. So mob rule has undermined the rule of law. That is why killings, robberies, thefts, etc. are continuing. The 10-year armed conflict has virtually destroyed the infrastructure, disrupted the public service and prevented governmental access in remote places. So nation-building is not going to be an easy task. More importantly, the real challenge before the government is to bring about a convergence of interests and unity among the masses that have been enraged due to the civil war. It will also be a challenge to provide rehabilitation to the exploited lot and the victims of the conflict who have long been denied justice.

There are various ways to ensure the rule of law and human rights by minimising the social costs of the war — for instance, by individual or collective reparations, institutional reforms, rehabilitation, forming reconciliation commission, guaranteeing human rights, combating impunity or by institutionalising a truth commission. There is a need to rebuild the confidence of the victims in the new justice system. Also, all issues relating to violations of human rights and criminal laws should be satisfactorily resolved or legalised by the method of amnesty or prosecution. This alone can push the healing process to provide justice to the victims and will also broaden the scope of the rule of law.