April 26th, 2007 10:16 EST
Nepal: UN brings together local leaders for talks on human rights in peace process
Teams from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal today participated in a series of meetings with members of political parties, civil society and local authorities in three districts across the country to discuss human rights in the peace process.
These meetings, which follow previous ones organized by OHCHR-Nepal in Saptari and Sunsari districts, focused on the challenge of ensuring that human rights are respected in the peace process, OHCHR said in a news release.
“OHCHR-Nepal believes it is essential for the peace process, including Constituent Assembly elections, that human rights information is communicated to, and discussed, at the local level,” said Lena Sundh, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal.
The presence of UN experts at these meetings to share views with local leaders and members of marginalized groups “will also assist OHCHR to continue its work on discrimination and social exclusion,” she added. Today’s meetings took place in Panchthar, Birgunj and Kaski districts.
During their previous meetings, the experts stressed that political actors must accept that respect for the rights of others, calling this “the cornerstone of successful elections in a multi-party democracy,” OHCHR said.
In attendance at today’s meetings were Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; Doudou Diene, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism; and Yozo Yokota and Chinsung Chung, members of the Sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Minorities.
Nepal’s decade-long armed conflict, which brought a death toll of 13,000 and paralyzed life in the countryside, came to a formal end with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord last November. The Security Council then deployed the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which is mandated to support the peace process by monitoring the arms and armed personnel of the former adversaries and by assisting the election for a Constituent Assembly.