Indigenous Minority Rights: Comprehensive Peace Agreement

3.5. In order to end discriminations based on class, ethnicity, language, gender, culture, religion and region and to address the problems of women, Dalit, indigenous people, ethnic minorities (Janajatis), Terai communities (Madheshis), oppressed, neglected and minority communities and the backward areas by deconstructing the current centralised and unitary structure, the state shall be restructured in an inclusive, democratic and forward looking manner.

Implementation History

2006

Minimum Implementation

In the 2006 CPA, parties agreed to restructure the state in order to address the grievances of indigenous and marginalized groups. The interim constitution making process involved inputs from indigenous and marginalized groups. 

2007

Intermediate Implementation

In the interim constitution of 2007, issues related to indigenous and marginalized groups were incorporated. In the interim constitution, it was agreed that the state’s reconstruction was a responsibility of the state that should be handled by a newly formed High Level Commission.

2008

Intermediate Implementation

The formation of the High Level Commission remains a contentious issue amongst political parties. These parties differ in opinion on the number of states that should be created, the names of the states, the boundaries, and what role ethnic groups will play within the federal state. Notwithstanding the delay in the restructuring of the state, achievements were made in terms of providing greater opportunities for ethnic minorities in the governance. In the Constituent Assembly, the previously excluded castes and ethnic groups were represented through the quota system. According to this systems, the Dalits had 13%, the oppressed caste/indigenous groups had 37.8%, the Madeshi had 31.2%, other groups had 30%, and the backward regions had 4% of the total seats.1

  • 1. "Nepal Human Development Report 2009-State Transformation and Human Development," UNDP, 2009.
2009

Intermediate Implementation

The formation of the High Level Commission remains a contentious issue amongst political parties. Notwithstanding the delay in the restructuring of the state, parties were committed to the issues of indigenous and minority groups.

2010

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2011

Intermediate Implementation

As of August 2011, the Maoist party was considering using a constitutional amendment to avoid establishing a State Restructuring Commission.2

On 1 November 2011, major political parties (Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninists, Communist Party of Nepal- United Maoist and Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha) reached a seven-point agreement. One of the provisions of the accord was to form an expert panel from the CA instead of a constitutional commission on state restructuring.3 The 2006 CPA has provided for the establishment of constitutional commission on state restructuring that could address grievances of ethnic and indigenous groups secluded from the state power. Implementing the 1 November accord required constitutional amendment, which did not happen due to differences among major political parties.4 A consensus deal was reached on 22 November 2011 among main political parties to form the State Restructuring Commission without a Chairman for the time being. On 22 November 2011, an eight member SRC was formed.5

  • 2. "Dahal for amendment to settle state," Kathmandu Post, August 5, 2011.
  • 3. "Parties join hands on peace process," Kathmandu Post, November 2, 2011.
  • 4. "State Restructuring: Dispute delays statute amendment," Kathmandu Post, November 17, 2011.
  • 5. "State Restructuring: Commission takes shape, finally," Kathmandu Post, November 23, 2011.
2012

Intermediate Implementation

The SRC remained divided for reasons related to party affiliation and indigenous or ethnic identity of most of the members. As a result, the SRC failed to develop consensus among its members on its recommendations. On 31 January 2012, the State Restructuring Commission submitted two separate reports to the government because the majority commissioners (six members) proposed 11 states based on ethnic/indigenous identity and gave priority rights to dominant ethnic groups at the local level for one term. The minority report prepared by three members proposed six provinces: two from the plains region based on identity, history and culture, and four from hill and mountain regions based on economic viability. The report was submitted at the Constituent Assembly for deliberation on 25 March.6 After discussion at the CA meetings, the report was to be forwarded to the constitution committee, which never happened.

On 15 May 2012, after sidelining the SRC reports, major parties reached an agreement to have 11 federal states pending its name and geographic demarcation. The Maoist party later backtracked from this agreement as it faced growing presser from different ethnic and indigenous fronts.7 This issue dominated the constitution drafting process in May. As the parties failed to resolve contentious issues, including the state restructuring based on either single- or multi-ethnic (or indigenous) identity, the Constituent Assembly failed to promulgate the constitution on 28 May leading to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. As such, the indigenous minority rights provision of the accord through the state restructuring was not implemented as of July 2012.

  • 6. "Constitutional Update, Support to Participatory Constitution Building Process in Nepal," accessed July 20, 2012, http://www.ccd.org.np/.
  • 7. "Maoist party 'backtracks' from earlier agreement," Kathmandu Post, May 20, 2012.
2013

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2014

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. The indigenous minority rights provision of the accord through state restructuring remains unfulfilled as of 2014. Major political parties disagree on state restructuring, especially on the issue of number of states and whether the state should reflect single- or multi-ethnic (or indigenous) identity and prerogatives to indigenous groups in newly created federal states.

2015

Intermediate Implementation

Parties are expected to address the indigenous minority rights provisions through state restructuring especially through boundary demarcation, and name special rights, if any. As of 3 June 2015, leaders from major political parties have been engaged in dialogue with the hope of resolving disputed issues including minority identity within the federal states within days.9 The CA approved the draft constitution on July 7 forpublic feedback.10  The draft constitution suggests that the federal commission to recommend on demarcation of boundaries will be based on five criteria of identity, such as ethnicity. The draft constitution also has a provision for the representation of indigenous communities in the civil service, security forces, provincial and federal legislature. The draft constitution provides for the establishment of National Inclusive Commission, which is said to protect and promote the rights of indigenous people and those who are underrepresented in the state systems.

  • 9. “Disputed issues should be finalized soon: NC,” Kathmandu Post, June 3 , 2015.
  • 10. “CA concludes deliberation on draft constitution, sends for public feedback,” Himalayan Times, July 7, 2015.