Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN)

What is the project about


Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project supports the inclusive functioning of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and enables the participation of all sectors of society in drafting the new constitution.

On 21 November 2006, Nepal’s decade-long armed conflict ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). A central pillar of the accord is the writing of a new constitution that grants equal rights and opportunities to all Nepalese people. Historically, Nepalese society has been deeply divided along caste and ethnic lines and grievances about political, economic, and social exclusion were at the heart of the conflict.

The April 2008 elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA) resulted in a record number of women, Dalits and Janajati people being elected to make this the most socially inclusive legislative body in Nepal's history. It was recognised from the start that the development of a new constitution to restructure the state and establish a new system of government was a huge challenge given the large size and diversity of the assembly, the limited experience in creating a secular, federal, republican constitution and the difficulties of ensuring adequate people’s participation.

The original timeframe of completing the constitution by 28 May 2010 proved too ambitious given the competing political agendas and the need for extensive public consultation. As a result the term of the assembly was extended four times and the last deadline was for 27 May 2012 to prepare a draft constitution. However the Assembly was not able to produce a constitution and it was dissolved on 27th May 2012.

After the dissolution of the CA on 27 May 2012, SPCBN continued to highlight the need to build on the successes of the past four years and to develop a political consensus that included building on the successes of  the constitution making process. It continued its work with a varied group of partners from across the social and political spectrum and wherever possible engaged in advocacy work in pursuit of this objective. The project encouraged and supported debate and discussions among political leaders, the legal community and civil society groups to break the political stalemate and elect a new Constituent Assembly.

Since April 2008, the Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal project (SPCBN) has provided valuable support for inclusive and participatory constitution building. Over the first two years its main focus was on supporting the functioning of the Constituent Assembly (CA), increasing knowledge about constitutional issues and involving the general public in constitution building. This work continues, but the main emphasis now is on supporting political dialogue, helping clarify the remaining contentious issues and advocating for preparations to implement the new constitution.

What have we accomplished so far

1. An efficient and effective Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly was a new undertaking for Nepal with many CA members serving for the first time in the national legislature. In its first year the project’s supported for setting up the assembly’s physical and institutional infrastructure helped ensure its successful functioning. At the same time, the project helped build the capacity of CA members, secretariat, technical advisors and other key stakeholders to carry out their roles.

2. Increased knowledge on constitutional issues

The project has successfully broadened the understanding of CA and civil society members on constitutional and state restructuring issues. This happened mostly through programmes run at the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue (CCD), which was set up with support from UNDP and other donors in January 2009 nearby the Constituent Assembly and the center was closed at the end of 2011. However the services are continued from 2012 till date as well under the SPCBN project. The CCD provided technical resources, an open and neutral dialogue space and a facility for interactions between CA members, experts, civil society and the interested public. Many groups and individuals value its facilities and the center provided 1,020 pieces of expert advice, ran 288 seminars, and 18 workshops on constitutional issues, carried out 45 studies, published and distributed 150,000 summaries of the 11 CA thematic committee reports. There were 110,118 participants in the CCD events from 2009 to December 2011, among them 1415 CA members and 108,703 civil Society members and general public. Similarly the SPCBN project conducted 79 events in 2012 and altogether 8251 members participated in the programme, among them 335 CA members and 7916 civil Society members and general public

Though a priority of the project in the first 2 years was on involving a wide cross section of people particularly from the marginalized groups in the constitution making process, given the inability of the Constituent Assembly (CA) to meet its deadlines and the difficult and often complex issues that needed to be addressed in the CA, in 2011 and at the beginning of 2012 the project shifted its focus to strategic interventions to facilitate the reaching of consensus and accommodation on key constitutional issues. This entailed the development of options to bridge the gaps between the main political actors drawing on international and comparative best practices. Problem solving through the provision of technical assistance and dialogue facilitation became priorities of the project.

The project has also increased the knowledge and influence of the representatives of Nepal’s traditionally marginalised groups. The project continues to provide them with expert guidance and assisted the different Caucuses during 2010, 2011 and beginning of 2012 to produce their common position paper, which was frequently referred to by the constitution drafting committee. Similarly it supported four networks of women’s civil society organisations to produce a common agenda on women’s rights for influencing the shape of the constitution.

In late 2012, the SPCBN project organized several  workshops, meetings, and interactions on gender related issues and agendas. These programmes have contributed to sensitize the former CA members, Political leaders, members of Civil Society, and other concerned stakeholders on gender equality and aware them to consider it as a core human rights issue. A research work carried on gender and social inclusion perspective has contributed to understand the gaps in prevailing government laws. This can provide an opportunity to law-makers to make those laws compatible for promoting gender equality. The technical inputs of the project to the different CA thematic committees on gender equality was instrumental in seeking some firm commitment from CA members to promote gender equality throughout constitution as a cross cutting issues. There is ongoing relationship with National Women commissions on gender issues. 

In 2013 the project has also played an important role in sensitizing the concerned stakeholders the significance of preserving the gains of the past C.A. and resuming the constitution making from where it was left to consolidate those gains.

3. An informed and involved public

The project’s nationwide education and dialogue campaigns have informed the general public about the constitution-making process and helped bring their views and priorities into the making of the new constitution. In 2009 the project’s 2,274 democratic dialogues across 1,576 village areas (VDCs) increased the awareness of more than 125,000 people from the marginalised sections of society about constitutional issues. A second series of dialogues in 2010 covered 3915 VDCs, 58 municipalities and 240 constituencies and disseminated information to 250,000 citizens and collected opinions on the reports of the 11 thematic committees. Other dialogues have provided forums for CA members to respond to citizens’ concerns and for political leaders and civil society representatives to discuss the implications of the new constitution. There were 7000 submissions generated through these dialogues and were submitted to the CA.

The project provided support to Constitution Information Centre (CIC) in three districts through Nepal Law Society. A total of 6250 people participated in the district and village level one-day workshop during 2011. Similarly in 2012, a total of 3862 people participated in the district and village level one-day workshop.

Since 2011, the project used the media to facilitate public interactions with CA members and the management of public expectations. This leads on from the large impact of the project-supported Sajha Sawal (Common Questions) discussion programmes and the informative radio drama Katha Mitho Sarangiko (Sweet Tales of the Sarangi), which were broadcast on over 114 local FM radio stations in 2008–2010.

4. Dialogue Facilitation

In 2011, 2012 and 2013 project provided following support in order to narrowdown the differences on following key contentious issues:

  • The forms of government (presidential vs parliamentary)
  • The type of electoral system
  • State restructuring and federalism
  • Inclusivity — proportional representation and quotas in public institutions
  • The maintenance of international norms and standards with reference to human rights, particularly in relation to draft provisions on citizenship.

The project provided following support during 2011, 2012 and 2013:

  • provided advice, options and position papers on constitutional options based on international and comparative best practice;
  • facilitated meetings with political parties, party leaders, members of CA sub-committees and CA members who have sought clarification on options for consensus building and assistance to formulate their positions ;
  • hold inter-provincial dialogues on state restructuring and federalism among CA members and between civil society actors and CA members to promote mutual understanding on contentious issues;
  • assisted the women’s, dalit  and indigenous peoples’ caucuses to ensure that their concerns are not compromised unduly in the push to seek consensus; and
  • interaction meetings, consultations on the citizenship issue together with UNHCR and UNICEF.

5. Co-ordination

UNDP has coordinated donor support for constitution building since the start of the peace process in 2006 in order to avoid duplication, identify gaps and maximize the impact of available resources.

6. Preparations for transition management and implementation of the new constitution

The project is focusing more on preparing the ground for the huge transition once the new constitution is promulgated. The new constitution will require the amendment of many laws, the drafting of new laws, the establishment of new governance institutions, the reorientation and training of government officials, the holding of elections and much more.

Since 2010, the project has been organising several meetings, interactions, workshops, and seminars at central as well as at regional level with CA members, CA task force, government institutions, civil society organization and international development partners to advocate for early preparations for the transition to the implementation of the new constitution. The project has developed partnerships with Nepal Administrative Staff College (NASC), Public Administration Association of Nepal (PAAN), Justice and Rights Institutions Nepal (JuRI Nepal) and the Constitutional Lawyer’s Forum (CLaF) to facilitate their involvement in state restructuring and transition and for re-orientating their personnel. In partnership with Nepal Administrative Staff College (NASC), the project provided training of trainer to Government Official on transition management and federalism issues and developed a training manual. Similarly, in partnership with PAAN, the project conducted interaction programme with chief secretary, secretaries, and CA members on transition planning, challenges and management.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the project conducted workshops, seminars, provided options and publications to highlight the linkages between State Restructuring and Federalism and the desire to change Nepal from the unitary, centralized, Kathmandu-centered country to a country where political power is shared by a wider cross section of Nepali people. There were active participation from Chief Secretary, Secretaries, other civil servants, CA members, CA task force members, political leaders and civil society organizations during different events. Efforts were made to seriously consider and respond to the understandable fears and concerns that recognizing a particular identity could jeopardize unity and a common Nepali identity. The fact that federalism was not only about self-rule but also about shared rule was highlighted in the project’s activities and interventions. Formal and informal interactions are ongoing with different stakeholders.

In 2012 , the project conducted  district and local levels programme on state restructuring issues in order to clarify  myths and misconceptions and bridging the gap between what federalism is and what people think it is related to federalism among the local stakeholders.


7. Media support activity

In order to enhance the capacity of media in constitution issues, the project has been doing trainings and workshops for journalist. In 2011, 420 journalists from different regions and districts were oriented on constitutional issues and project continued this activity in 2012 as well. Workshops for 30 Women Journalist on Right to information marked another engagement of the project in 2012.

Similarly, the project, with financial support from Government of Japan  also adopted a two phased approach to work for the media development initiative in Nepal. This started with a national level research among 800 plus journalists and more than 3000 public across the country to take a realistic appraisal of Nepal's media sector. The project, through a comprehensive media research, identified the key areas of intervention with regards to capacity development initiatives in this sector. The report which deals with various issues of Nepal's media including that of capacity, credibility, balance, literacy and other professional issues, has been a rich reference to media scholars and others alike.

On the second phase, the project worked on the capacity development initiatives of the media, which included the creation of a Virtual Media Community of Practice (www.mediamanch.com), allowing a common platform for all journalists. Now, nearly 700 journalists interact, exchange and write about the crucial issues facing Nepal's contemporary politics including the constitutional issues. The size of membership to this virtual platform is on increase with every new day.

As part of capacity development, the project trained 150 journalists on the 'New Media and Constitutional Issues' from across the nation in 2012. Further to that, the project also developed a well researched Journalism Manual in both English and Nepali language in order to train another batch of 400 journalists across the nation in 2013. This national level residential training has helped enabling journalists on writing more accurate and balanced news by complying with the journalism ethics.

Who Finances it?



Donor Amount contributed
UNDP
$7.6m
DFID
$3.6m
Denmark
$2.6m
Norway
$2.5m
British Embassy $1m
BCPR
$0.6m
Austria
$0.25m
Government of Japan $0.3m
Total budget $18.5 million

Delivery in previous fiscal year

 

$1,823,572

 

Importance of this project towards achieving the MDGs and consolidating peace

The promulgation of a new constitution is a major landmark in the peace process, with peace being a necessary precondition for accelerated progress towards achieving all the MDGs.

Project Overview
Status:
active
Project duration:
May 2008 to Dec 2013
Geographic coverage:
Implemented by UNDP in the Constituent Assembly and all 240 constituencies across Nepal
Focus Area:
Democratic Governance
Main partners:
The Constituent Assembly, its secretariat and its members
UNDP focal point:
Ms. Kalpana Sarkar
Programme Analyst
Governance Unit, UNDP
UN House
POB 107 Pulchowk, Lalitpur
Tel: 977-1-5523200 ext. 1019
Fax: 977-1-5523991
Email: kalpana.sarkar@undp.org
Project focal point:
Mr. Rohan Edrisinha
International Project Manager

KSK Building Fourth Floor
Opposite UN House
Tel: 977-1-5010060

Tara House
Sanepa, Lalitpur
Phone: 01-5013054

Website: www.spcbn.org.np
Related Documents
Nepal’s six constitutions

1948 constitution (under the Ranas)

1951 constitution (originally to be an interim constitution)

1959 multiparty parliamentary constitution

1962 partyless Panchayat constitution

1990 multiparty parliamentary constitution

2007 post-conflict interim constitution

 

2012 planned federal democratic republic constitution