Strengthening capacity for negotiation and consensus-building

19 Aug 2009

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As part of its support to the Constituent Assembly (CA) in the process of drafting a new constitution, the UNDP/Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project has launched a new initiative to strengthen the capacity of Constituent Assembly members to negotiate and build constructive consensus.

The first part of this new initiative has been a three-week workshop to build the capacity of trainers who will then provide training to many of the 601members of the CA over the next few months. The initial workshop included pilot sessions where newly trained trainers applied their skills to 35 CA Members. Each pilot session also provided an opportunity for the members to apply their newly acquired skills to a scenario of complex negotiation in the CA.

The courses have been designed to enable leaders from competing political affiliations to address four principle challenges to achieve durable peace: shifting from a zero-sum mindset to one that recognizes interdependence; rebuilding the trust between leaders, which had been shattered by conflict; strengthening communication and negotiation skills; and rebuilding a consensus on decision-making and organisation of power.

The training was conducted over three weeks in July at the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue.

The initial training certified 13 Nepali trainers (7 women, 6 men) who are now skilled to conduct courses in Negotiating for Constructive Consensus for CA Members. By certifying national Nepali trainers, the initiative is to strengthen sustainable national capacity for negotiation and consensus building. The newly certified trainers also form a pool of resource persons who will train other political, administrative and civil society leaders in future initiatives.

Although negotiation and consensus building are not new concepts for the country, the training introduces a structured framework to enhance existing skills and competencies in a cooperative approach to negotiation as a key building block towards constructive consensus.

The CA Members have been targeted as a key constituency because their deliberations on the constitution will have a tremendous effect on the future of a country transitioning from a 10-year insurgency.