Nepal is hosting the 2nd Human Rights Conference for LAWASIA, offering an opportunity to reflect on Nepal’s recognition and protection of human rights.
From 1996 until 2006, Nepal was in a civil war between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepalese government. During this time, over 13,000 deaths occurred and there were many human rights violations such as torture, murder and the alleged use of child soldiers from both sides. This conflict also resulted in problems that continue to exist today, such as a lack of education and high levels of poverty, perpetuated by the devastating 2015 earthquake.
To recover from the damage of 10 years of conflict, Nepal put a large focus on recognising and protecting human rights through the formation of eight national human rights institutions (NHRIs), established by the Nepalese Constitution in 2015. These agencies, each with their own mandate, have the primary role of protecting Indigenous nationalities and other vulnerable or marginalised groups in Nepal.
Some improvements can be seen in the nation, such as an increase in literacy rates from 48.6% in 2001 to 67.9 in 2018. However, progress has not occurred on all fronts. Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern about the lack of progress towards justice for victims of the civil war. Frederick Rawski, The International Court of Justice’s Asia-Pacific Director says that it “is astonishing that so little progress has been made in responding to the clearly articulated concerns and demands of conflict victims.”
Current efforts may not be enough to rectify the wrongs of a decade of war, but it is hopeful that international organisations, NGOs and a delegation of the European Union are working with Nepal to make progress and help the country recover from a war that continues to haunt them 14 years on.