The role the United Nations played in Nepal’s peace process is an open case. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) played important role in verifying the number of Maoist combatants and determining their eligibility for integration in Nepal Army. Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in November 21, 2006 between Government of Nepal and warring Maoists, Nepal requested the UN for assistance, in line of which it established UNMIN on January 23, 2007 to monitor disarmament of erstwhile Maoist rebels and the preparations for Constituent Assembly elections. Thanks to the UN support, the country successfully held the first CA elections in 2008, which prepared the groundwork for the second CA to promulgate the constitution in 2015 enabling the process of formally implementing the federal system in Nepal. This contribution, to whatever extent, has been officially recognized by Nepal. In this context, the government decision to close the UN’s Department of Political Affairs (DPA) unit in Nepal with immediate effect might seem like an ungrateful move to some. But we believe that this is a right decision and does not in any way undermine UN’s contribution and the role it played in Nepal’s peace process. In fact, this decision marks an end to UN’s role in Nepal’s peace process.
With successful conduction of three-tier elections under the new constitution, Nepal’s peace process, to facilitate which UNMIN had set up its office of which DPA remained as a residual unit, has been successfully concluded. With the UNMIN’s mandate deemed over long back in 2011 and army integration process coming to the logical end, DPA in fact was left with little business. Second, Nepal is now already moving ahead on the path of stability and progress after putting in place democratically elected governments in local, provincial and federal levels. Meanwhile, DPA was allegedly involved in various unwarranted activities such as supporting separatist elements. The office was dragged into a controversy after it was found carrying out an unauthorized survey under the cover of UN Resident Coordinator on Nepal’s political and constitutional issues. It would have been best if the global body of great repute had stayed away from activities that raise suspicions among the people.
There could be divided opinion regarding the government directive to shut down DPA office, for even during UNMIN’s departure there was argument and counterargument regarding the case. DPA office closure, however, does not end the relevance of UN in Nepal. There was a time when UN body assisted in political matters. Since political issues have now been settled, UN’s assistance is expected in line with the national aspirations for economic development and prosperity. The buzzwords after the formation of new government has been development, prosperity and growth so as to meet the target of graduating from least development country (LDC) status by 2022 and then to middle income country by 2030. If assistance from bilateral and multilateral global agencies can be channelized to meet these goals, graduation process will be much easier for Nepal. We hope the UN and other development partners will align their priorities to Nepal’s national policies and aspirations.