Civic Solidarity for Peace
The Peace Talks:
What's on the Agenda and What's at Stake
The ceasefire has brought welcome relief from armed warfare to the Nepali people. But many other kinds of violence continue unabated - the violence of malnutrition, the violence of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world, the violence of usury by moneylenders, myriad forms of violence against women under patriarchy, the violence of caste discrimination, the violence of spiralling foreign debt, the violence of the inhumane terms imposed by multinational financial institutions, the violence of bonded labor, the violence of widespread unemployment and of less than a living wage for those with work, the violence of torture in custody, the violence of imposed governance, and many others. And so, welcome as it is, the ceasefire is just a respite from one kind of violence. In order for the ceasefire to develop into the lasting peace we seek, this precious time must be used to address, with great seriousness and imagination, the many other kinds of violence that daily stalk the Nepali people.
In the first peace negotiations in 2001 the CPN(Maoist) presented an agenda. The government side did not, and merely rejected the other side's agenda items, one by one. In other words, there were no substantive talks. Nepal cannot afford a repetition of such a failure by those who claim to govern her.
In this new round of talks, the CPN(Maoist) presented a detailed agenda in the first formal meeting. That agenda is made available here in English translation. So far, the unelected government has not presented any agenda. We hope that it will make that minimal show of accountability to peace-seeking Nepalis. If it does so, we will try to make that agenda available here as well.
- Civic Solidarity for Peace
21 Baisakh, 2060
N.B. The translation of the CPN(Maoist) agenda proposal provided here is approved by their negotiating team as an accurate rendition of the content, spirit and tone of the original document. There are several other translations in circulation, some of which may create misunderstandings about what has been proposed and about stated rationales for various positions. Since debate should be about what is actually proposed and misrepresentations, whether intentional or not, can be harmful to the peace process, we recommend making use of this translation.
Concise Agenda Proposal
Presented by the CPN(Maoist)
in the Initial Meeting of the Peace Talks
Co-ordinator, CPN(Maoist) Negotiating Team
14 Baishakh, 2060 (27 April, 2003)
The old state power that has held sway in our country, uninterruptedly, for nearly two and a half centuries has fallen into a grave crisis due to its retrogressive class relations, both domestic and international. As a result of its class character, the old state power has many kinds of intrinsic contradictions -- class, caste and ethnic, regional, and gender-based. These contradictions seek a progressive resolution, and progressive structural readjustment of the state power itself is clearly inevitable.
The political transformations of 2007 (1950-51) and 2046-47 (1990-91) sought to resolve the crisis of state power in partial and piecemeal fashion. Those efforts were not enough to solve the fundamental problems of nationality, democracy and people's livelihood. The events of the past fifty-two years, and especially those of the past twelve years, have provided ample evidence of this fact.
Due to this situation, beginning on the 1st of Phalgun, 2052 (13 February, 1996), under the leadership of the CPN (Maoist), the oppressed classes, castes, regions, women, and communities of Nepal raised the banner of armed rebellion. The oppressed peoples rose in armed rebellion to bring about fundamental political, economic, social and cultural transformation, and to organise those transformed structures into a new, progressive state power.
After seven years of merciless civil war, a strategic balance was established between the crisis-ridden old state power and the rising new state power. In this situation, and keeping in mind the special geo-political situation of the country, it was considered desirable at this time to seek a progressive political outcome through peaceful means. Hence, as is common knowledge, both sides agreed to a ceasefire on 15 Magh, 2059 (29 January, 2003) and decided to embark on a process of negotiation.
It is in this context that this concise agenda proposal is presented by the official negotiating team of the CPN(Maoist) whose brief is to seek a progressive political outcome to the current crisis. This agenda can be elaborated and refined as necessary at the negotiating table.
The aims and goals of the talks between the representatives of the old and new powers must be in accord with the following aims/goals:
- i) to end the existing situation of conflict and establish enduring peace in the country by means of a progressive political outcome
- ii) to resolve existing class, caste, regional, gender-based and other contradictions through progressive and fundamental political, economic, social and cultural transformation. To resolve the problems of nationality, democracy and people's livelihood, and create a forward-looking, democratic Nepal.
- iii) to recognize democracy and nationality as indivisible, mutually dependent and inter-connected sub-classes, and seek on this basis to establish a new, strong, pro-people national unity, and to preserve and protect national independence and sovereignty.
- iv) to make the comprehensive civil and human rights of all inviolable, and in particular those of the disenfranchised and oppressed levels and strata of society, and to make appropriate arrangements for relief and rehabilitation assistance to those who suffered in the course of the civil war
Certain conditions must be met in order to create an environment of trust conducive to talks. After seven years of civil war, a situation was reached in which the People's Army controlled most rural areas while the Royal Army controlled the capital, district capitals, and large cities. Acknowledging this on-the-ground reality, the ceasefire signed on 15 Magh (29 January 2003) and the 22-point code of conduct made public on 29 Phalgun (13 March, 2003) were based on the central principle that this status quo will hold, and neither side will engage in armed incursions into the other's areas, for the duration of the negotiations. These facts are well known.
Along with continued adherence to this principle, rapid and effective steps must be taken to:
- a) release persons captured by each side during the course of the war
- b) make public the whereabouts of the disappeared and release those who survive
- c) rescind the anti-humanitarian black laws passed by the old power, such as the Terrorist and Destructive Acts (Control and Punishment) Act, 2058
- d) withdraw false cases filed during the course of the civil war
A fixed period of time must be set to meet these conditions, and the following actions carried out within that period:
- i) The condition of all prisoners of war and other persons disappeared in the course of the war while in the custody of the police and the royal forces, including CPN(Maoist) Central Committee member Dandapani Neupane, must be made public by the end of Baishakh, 2060 (14 May, 2003).
- ii) All prisoners of war and others taken into custody during the course of the war by the royal forces, or held in jails or other places of incarceration, including alternate Politburo member Ravindra Shrestha, and alternate Central Committee members Bamdev Chhetri and Mumaram Khanal, must be released within fifteen days.
- iii) All false cases must be permanently withdrawn and all political prisoners/prisoners of conscience released within fifteen days.
- iv) The so-called Terrorist and Destructive Act (Control and Punishment) Act, 2058 must be rescinded now.
- v) The royal army must be returned to barracks within one week, and search and seizure operations against the general public by the royal army and all other state forces must cease now.
- vi) A committee, which shall have strong rights of investigation, and be comprised of representatives of various national and international human rights organisations, the main professional organisations of Nepal, and representatives of civil society, must immediately be formed. Its brief shall be to investigate, assess and monitor adherence to the terms of the ceasefire, the condition of the disappeared, and the release of prisoners.
The following must be done in order to make the process of negotiations transparent and result-oriented:
1) A team of neutral and respected facilitators must be created, by mutual agreement of both parties to the talks, in order to make the talks proceed smoothly and transparently. This team must be included right from the outset of formal talks, and in every stage of the talks thereafter.
2) The time and place of talks shall be fixed by mutual agreement of both parties through the facilitators.
3) Because the question of state power is the precipitating factor in the current conflict, the political agenda must be given primacy in the talks, with other subjects to be raised sequentially as the talks proceed.
4) The current political condition of the country is one of extreme flux. It is not merely unhelpful, but positively risky, to remain in this condition for an indefinite period of time. Therefore, good faith effort must be made to bring the talks to a meaningful conclusion as quickly as possible.
Because the question of state power, or the political question, is at the root of all the problems facing the country, the main agenda of the talks must focus on the political, and this issue must receive primary attention.
A new progressive state system and a new constitution that will define that system are essential to resolve the crisis existing in the country. The constitution promulgated after the 1990-91 People's Movement has already become, objectively speaking, a dead document, unimplemented, ignored, and violated by the state. The country is currently without a constitution. Acknowledging these on-the-ground realities, the procedure for creating a new constitution, and the minimum essential content of the new constitution must be the main agenda of the talks.
The experience of the past twelve years has made it clear that although the 1991 constitution contained some strong democratic features, it also contained some serious errors and lacunae. (Examples of strong democratic features include multi-party competition, periodic elections, rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, etc. Examples of serious errors and lacunae include the so-called un-revisable subjects, the contradiction between sovereignty vested in the people and royal authority, the disappearance of genuine democracy for oppressed classes, castes, regions, women, and others within the British system of formal democracy, etc.). This experience makes it certain that both the constitution-making procedure and the contents of the new constitution must be more progressive than in 1990-91.
The new people's consciousness of the 21st century, and the new balance of political power created by seven years of merciless civil war, make two other facts just as vividly clear: Neither the retrogressive thinking that has reasserted itself after 1991, nor the conservative thinking that seeks to keep the country forever stuck in 1991, can fulfill the new needs of the people. Neither of these lines of thinking can resolve the current crisis.
Given this reality, the process or procedure for creating a new constitution and its minimum essential progressive content must be in accord with the following points:
a) The Process or Procedure for Creating a New Constitution
- i) With the agreement of the activist forces and main political forces of the country, a great roundtable conference of all the democratic, patriotic and progressive forces that have established themselves with the people through their activism, shall be held.
- ii) That roundtable conference shall establish an interim set of procedures and appoint an all-inclusive interim government under the leadership of activist forces. It will carry out these tasks without reducing the democratic rights already included in the 1991 constitution, and in a manner that reflects the new political balance of power in the country.
- iii) Under the authority of the interim government, election of a Constituent Assembly shall be carried out within six months. The elected Constituent Assembly shall create and promulgate a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly election process shall ensure proper representation of the various classes, castes and ethnicities, regions, genders and communities of the country.
b) Minimum Essential Content of the New Constitution
- i) Sovereign authority must be entirely vested in the people and the state power must be entirely in the hands of the people.
- ii) An elected People's Assembly shall be established as the people's supreme representative body and shall include proper representation of all classes, castes, minority nationalities, dalit castes and peoples, women, linguistic, religious and regional groups and special personalities of the country. All branches of the state power will be responsible to the People's Assembly. The government will have proper representation of all groups in the same manner as the People's Assembly.
- iii) Any constitutional provision whatsoever shall be subject to amendment by a two-thirds majority of the People's Assembly or through a national referendum.
- iv) A united national army will be created from the Royal Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army, with suitable structural changes. That national army shall be placed under the authority of the people's elected representatives.
- v) The constitution shall guarantee multi-party competition, periodic elections, voting rights, rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, basic rights and human rights and other universally accepted democratic and civil rights.
- vi) The constitution shall guarantee minority nationality and regional self-rule, including the right to autonomous decision-making, for all the oppressed castes, minority nationalities, plains (madeshi) communities and oppressed regions of the country.
- vii) The state shall be entirely secular.
- viii) The constitution shall define education, health and employment as basic rights of the people, and shall make provisions for free and universally available basic education and health care.
- ix) New land relations shall be established based on the principle of "land to the tiller", and a just distribution of land and beneficial land-related arrangements shall be established. A policy of self-sufficient industrialisation shall be established, and a policy that protects and preserves national capital and natural resources shall be followed.
- x) Rescinding all unequal treaties, including the 1950 A.D. Nepal-India Treaty, an independent foreign policy of friendly relations with all based on the principles of Panchashil and non-alignment shall be followed. All treaties and agreements with foreigners shall require passage by a two-thirds majority of the People's Assembly.
c) Final Content of the New Constitution
It is our view that there can and should be agreement and understanding about the minimum essential content of a new, progressive constitution among those political forces that desire a progressive political resolution to the current crisis. However, since it is the Constituent Assembly, with no restrictions placed upon it, that will make the new constitution, it would be inappropriate, both in principle and in practice, to determine its whole character and all its particular features at this time.
On the matter of appropriate minimum essential content, the political forces should go to the people and present their ideas on organization of the state and other progressive content according to their own outlook and principles. It is surely self-evident, and must be agreed upon by all, that it is the people who will make the final determination.
- i) Under the guise of "counter-terrorism", in various forms and under various names, moves are being made that seriously compromise the national interest and have a negative impact of the peace talks process. These include treaties and agreements, military aid, the presence of foreign troops, and their surreptitious activities. All these must cease immediately.
- ii) The open Nepal-India border must be brought under control and made orderly. All types of extortion and incursions in the border areas must be brought under control. A work permit system must be instituted for foreigners given employment in Nepal.
- iii) The Gurkha recruitment centers, which are a black spot on the nation, must be shut down, and arrangements for dignified employment within their own country must be made for Nepalis.
- iv) Foreign monopoly in the areas of industry, trade and commerce, and the financial sector must be brought to an end. National industries and domestic business people must be protected and encouraged. The country must be completely freed from the debilitating cycle of foreign debt within a specified period of time.
- v) The foreign extortion and internal destruction that are taking place in the name of NGO's, INGO's and others must be brought to an end. Terms contrary to the national interest, which have been or are being imposed by foreign financial organisations, must be declared null and void.
- vi) A unified national water policy must be created to ensure the proper use of the country's vast water resources. Giving priority to small and medium scale hydroelectric projects, electrification of the entire country must be carried out within a specified period of time.
- vii) Landless and poor peasants must be freed from all forms of debt and guaranteed full employment.
- viii) The kamaiya, haruwa, charuwa and other such traditional systems of bonded labour must be eliminated and all who have been victims of those systems given full guarantee of employment and shelter. Arrangements for suitable accommodations for all homeless persons must be made.
- ix) Agricultural commodities, including fertilizer and seed, must be made inexpensively and universally available, and proper arrangements for irrigation must be made. Arrangements must be made for proper prices and market facilities for agricultural production.
- x) The constant increases in the price of petroleum products and other daily necessities must be brought under control. The daily wage rates of labourers and the salaries of office workers must be raised in proportion to price increases.
- xi) A proper mechanism for severe action against corruption, smuggling, commission-taking (graft), and profiteering must be created immediately.
- xii) A national scientific system of education must be implemented. Education must be made employment-oriented. The ongoing privatization and commercialization of education must be ended immediately.
- xiii) Free and universally available health care must be expanded into all areas, with particular emphasis on rural areas.
- xiv) Special arrangements must be made for the welfare of the blind, lame and other disabled persons, the elderly, the infirm, and children. All such arrangements must protect the rights of these groups.
- xv) All forms of domination of women must be ended and women must be granted rights equal to those of men in all spheres including that of paternal inheritance. Trafficking in women and girls must be entirely wiped out.
- xvi) All forms of domination and oppression of dalit castes and peoples, including untouchability, must be ended and dalits must be guaranteed rights entirely equal to the rights of others.
- xvii) A forty-hour work week and fixed minimum wage for workers must be established and strictly implemented. Workers must be guaranteed participation in the organization and administration of their industry.
- xviii) Concrete policies for the all-round development of youth must be made and implemented in a planned manner.
- xix) Littˇrateurs, cultural workers, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, journalists, writers, engineers, teachers, etc., must be ensured the intellectual freedom and professional security that will strengthen their devotion to service to the country and the people.
- xx) A ban must be placed on import and distribution of such retrogressive foreign cultural pollutants and invasive materials as pornographic films, videos, magazines and journals.
- xxi) A special plan for basic development and expansion of drinking water, roads, bridges, electricity, etc., in villages throughout the country must be implemented on a priority basis and with thorough preparation. A balanced national development plan which erases the existing imbalances between village and city, and between different geographical regions, must be implemented.
- xxii) The rights and welfare of Nepalis who have gone abroad for employment must be ensured.
- xxiii) Those killed in the course of the people's movements and people's war for liberation of the country and the people that have taken place over the years, shall be declared martyrs and severe actions taken against their murderers.
- xxiv) The just demands that have been made by communities of all levels and strata and by various class organisations, must be fulfilled immediately.
- i) A high-level commission with strong authority for investigation and action, and which shall include in its membership representatives of human rights organisations, must be established to carry out an impartial investigation of instances of human rights violations during the civil war. Necessary action must be taken against those found to be responsible for human rights violations.
- ii) Relief and proper compensation must be provided to the families of martyrs immediately.
- iii) Arrangements must be made to provide those wounded in the course of the civil war with free medical treatment.
- iv) Families displaced during the course of the civil war must be resettled in their former location or another place they agree to be equally suitable.
1) Items agreed to by both parties during the talks must be implemented within the specified period of time. In order to monitor implementation of agreements made during the peace talks, an impartial monitoring team must be created.
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