Pm on international seminar of constitutional council
Hon. Ministers and other Colleagues,
Hon. Members of the Constituent Assembly,
Legal Experts and Professionals,
Friends from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very pleased to attend the concluding session of this three-day international conference on 'Dynamics of Constitution Making in Nepal in Post-Conflict Scenario' that has been organised with a view to holding an interactive session on the most pertinent area of drafting a suitable constitution within the stipulated timeframe as per the aspirations of the people of Nepal. I thank the organiser, Nepal Constitution Foundation for holding such an important exercise at a time when the Constituent Assembly and various thematic committees are fully engaged in giving final shape to vital and core elements of our new constitution. Besides, I am happy to extend a very warm welcome and have the opportunity to exchange opinions with such a galaxy of colleagues, legislators, intellectuals and experts including our friends and well-wishers who have come from abroad. I am told that you had extensive deliberations and interactions on major aspects of our constitution making and I am confident that this would go a long way in providing a valuable feedback to our most primary task of drafting a new constitution within the specific period of the next few months.
Apart from being a fundamental legal and political document, the constitution of a land truly determines and should, in fact, define the future course of a nation. All of you are familiar with our constitutional history and our experiments in making constitutions in the past. We have already promulgated half a dozen constitutions under different political dispensations within a period of six decades. One of the main reasons attributed for the failures of most of our past constitutions is lack of ownership of the people as these documents were either imposed or drafted by those who were either ignorant of our actual requirements or did not care to take into account the fundamental aspirations and needs of the people of Nepal. The 1990 Constitution was different in the sense that it was drafted by experts and politicians after thorough deliberations and discussions. It had incorporated substantially important elements to make it a more democratic instrument. Despite these positive features, this document also had inherent weakness in the sense that it outlived its utility since it rested on the indispensability of an institution that was not in keeping with the aspirations of people in the context of the changing political dynamics.
The political movement of 2006 that was a climax in the glorious saga of the struggle of the people of Nepal for democracy, fundamental rights, civil liberties, rule of law and human rights, is a major event in the annals of the country’s social and political history as this change led to a fundamental transformation in the political governance. Path-breaking achievements like Comprehensive Peace Accord, Interim Constitution, successful conclusion of the Constituent Assembly elections, end of 240 years old monarchy and declaration of the country as a Federal Democratic Republic are defining moments in our recent political history. These developments have changed the country from the status of a decade-long violence and conflict to a post-conflict situation of great political transition.
The Government is committed to take the ongoing peace process to its positive and meaningful conclusion and draft a new constitution within the specified period of the next few months. It is a tremendous challenge to accomplish these objectives and bring about restructuring of the unitary framework that has been the basis of our political order for centuries, with a view to promoting harmony, fraternity and unity in the country. This has to be done through greater inclusion and mainstreaming of the marginalised sections of the society. We are confident of achieving these goals through utmost flexibility and accommodation on the basis of broad understanding, consensus, dialogue and unity of purpose with all major political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly.
The formation of the Constituent Assembly through the historic elections held in 2008 was a crucial step forward in the task of constitution making as the representatives of the people have for the first time in history been directly entrusted with the task of determining the destiny of a new Nepal. This step is of immense political significance as it enables the people to outline the vision of a new society, define the fundamental principles of state and redistribute the powers and resources of the country. The Interim Constitution has made a good beginning as it has established at least a framework for constitutional and political changes and enshrined some basic guiding principles in the forms of preamble and directive principles agreed in earlier negotiations among major political forces in the country.
The restructuring of the state is needed to resolve social and regional inequalities. While it is fundamental to promote democracy, peace, prosperity, and progressive economic and social changes, it is imperative to protect territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and dignity of the country as these are of central concerns to us. We are determined to see that these ideals and goals are materialized into a concrete reality with the adoption of a new constitution.
The people of Nepal truly expect that the promulgation of the new constitution would permanently end the conflict and address the widespread grievances afflicting the population. Thus, the drafting process has to address the twin objectives of peace-building and long-term political, social and economic reforms. The broad objectives of our home-driven peace process include among others the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoists into mainstream democratic politics and resolution of long-standing ethnic, regional and caste fissures in our society.
The experience of other countries amply indicates that successful constitutional processes require a delicate act of striking a judicious balance and accommodation between competing interests and broad public participation. I have been encouraged by recent developments in terms of smoothly running the stalled legislature parliament and in undertaking some tangible measures in the way of addressing the problem of combatants in the cantonments. I am also pleased to note that key political parties and players have shown willingness to realize and learn from past errors and devote to broad national interest setting aside their party lines.
The other thing I would like to share with you is that it is imperative to strengthen internal democracy and accountability on the part of political parties that would directly benefit the constitution-making process. We can’t live in isolation specially in the context of globalization and liberalization of the world’s economy. As one of the least developed countries with serious resource constraints, we, of course, need international goodwill and support to our quest for peace, stability and progress, and confront with other challenges.
While it is very important to institutionalise peace and democracy in the country, rapid social and economic transformation with a view to improving the quality of life of our people should be the priority consideration for us. I appeal to our friends to duly appreciate the dynamics of Nepal’s post-conflict country situation and areas of special needs that need to be addressed within the constitutional framework. At the same time, I am sure of getting tangible support from the international community in our social and economic development. The Government is committed to mobilize both internal resources and external assistance towards this end. The investment-friendly policy pursued by the Government and establishment of peace and stability in the country have created a congenial atmosphere for greater flow of direct foreign investments in hydropower, infrastructure-building, tourism, agriculture, industry and other areas for mutual benefit.
To conclude, I once again thank the organizers for hosting such a useful programme focused on the current scenario of constitution making. I also take this opportunity to extend sincere thanks for all international delegates who have come to Kathmandu to attend such an important seminar. I thank the participants for their hard work and sincere endeavours to support our constitution making process through valuable feedback, inputs and suggestions, and in making this seminar a total success. I can assure you that the Government will give due consideration to your recommendations taking into account our special needs and priorities in this direction. At the same time, I seek your constant support and solidarity with us at a time when our topmost priority is on drafting a suitable constitution to govern our political landscape in the changed context.
Thank you all.
Text of the Address delivered by Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at an international seminar organized by Nepal Constitution Council on 'Dynamics of Constitution Making in Nepal in Post-Conflict Scenario' being held in Kathmandu on January 15-17, 2010