Peace process ‘complete’, govt asks UNDPA for a drawdown

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 | | National

A week after the government formally decided to wind up the United Nations’ political office in Nepal, officials on Tuesday asked the UN agency for its drawdown plan. The government has already written to the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) to wrap up its Nepal office within three months.

The request was made early Tuesday in a meeting between Joint-secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Bharat Raj Poudyal, head of the ministry’s UN Division, and Cathering Sung, head of the DPA-Kathmandu.

A senior MoFA official confirmed the meeting where Poudyal appreciated the task undertaken by the United Nations in Nepal’s peace process and urged Sung to provide DPA’s drawdown plan, as asked by the government of Nepal.

In his meeting with Sung, Poudyal also made references to “smooth transition” of two previous UN missions in Nepal–UNMIN and OHCHR–and hoped that the DPA will follow suit. For its part, the DPA-Kathmandu has communicated to the government of Nepal that it is committed to a timely withdrawal and is currently waiting for instructions from its headquarters in New York to plan exit.

The government’s decision follows its stated position that Nepal’s political transition that started in 2006 has come to an end with the successful conclusion of elections to three tiers of government–local, provincial and federal–as envisaged in the new federal constitution.

“The DPA set up its residual office after UNMIN left Nepal in January 2011,” said Poudyal, who is also the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry. “Since we have successfully promulgated the democratic constitution and conducted three tiers of election, the task of the DPA is nearly over.” The unfinished business of transitional justice can now be handled by OHCHR, the United Nations human rights arms, headquartered in Geneva.

“We have received a letter from the Nepal government conveying to us its decision to wind up the DPA office in Kathmandu,” said Ram B Shah, national information officer at the United Nations Information Centre in Nepal.

In the letter to the UN, the government has commended the role played by the UN and its various agencies, including the DPA, towards a successful conclusion of the peace process.

“The UN agencies played a crucial role in Nepal’s peace process. Their contribution is commendable,” said Bhojraj Pokhrel, former chief election commissioner who worked closely with UNMIN in the early stage of the peace process and during the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections. “The government could have communicated to the United Nations to close down its DPA office a lot more quietly and diplomatically.”