At a time when the country has been going through a transitional period, the challenge before Nepal is to achieve harmony, social order and stability as matters of utmost interest.
At a conference titled Peace and Justice through Mediation, organized by The Asia Foundation in association with the Mediation Council, national and international speakers discussed ways to find durable peace.
The function was chaired by Nandita Baruah, deputy country Representative of The Asia Foundation.
Supreme Court Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli highlighted the importance of mediation to restore peace and justice in society. “At a time when the formal courts are getting lengthy and overcrowded by petitions, the justice through community mediation is very prominent,” said justice Sharma.
The one and a half day seminar brought experts from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, South Africa, Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand and India to take part in several sessions. “Mediation is the best way to deliver justice to the rural populations. At a time when Nepal is still in transition and the victims of insurgency are in grave needs of justice, mediation can be a better solution,” said former home minister Grimier.
Highlighting the importance of the program, Preeti Thapa, Senior Program Officer of The Asia Foundation, said the Foundation aims to bring together academics and practitioners involved in mediation to a variety of professional and disciplinary audiences through the conference.
With the commencement of Mediation Act in 2008, Nepal has started the community mediation program. Despite a long experience of implementing the program, Nepalese actors involved in the mediation rarely joined together to share their own experiences.
At a time when there is so much complexity in transitional justice in Nepal, Surya Kiran Gurung, chairperson of Truth and Reconciliation Commission Nepal, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director, Center for Policy Alternatives of Sri Lanaka and Terith Chy, program director of The Asia Foundation of Cambodia, shared their different perspectives on the role of mediation in reconciliation and transitional justice.
Former home minister Madhav Ghimire, Chris Spies, founder Dynamic Stability Consultancy, South Africa, and Camilo Bong Montesa of Philippines discussed on the themes influencing peace process through dialogue and mediation.
Other areas of discussion included supporting and promoting gender justice and social inclusion through mediation, mediating multi-party civil disputes, supporting knowledge creation and ensuring the quality of mediation, application of restorative justice principle in mediation, role of mediation in post disaster conflict management and reviewing legal framework of community mediation.
The Asia Foundation aims to create a platform where all actors working in mediation and peace building could share their experience and knowledge; present an informative and stimulating program offering networking and learning opportunities to new and experienced mediators, judges, lawyers, scholars, dialogue facilitators, jurists, journalists and students; and contribute to the building of a national capacity in Nepal in the field of mediation and conflict resolution and transformation.
The conference explored broader themes of mediation including facilitated interest-based mediation; role of mediation in reconciliation and transitional justice; gender justice and social inclusion through mediation; influencing peace processes through dialogue and mediation, and other more operational themes that relate to promoting mediation as a means to improving access to justice and conflict transformation.
The Asia Foundation, Nepal has been actively involved in conflict resolution and transformation through its community mediation program, regional dialogue fora, and restorative justice initiative. The Foundation’s community mediation program has played a critical role in conflict transformation and peace building since 2001. Currently, the program is operational in 514 communities of 19 districts covering all five regions of Nepal. The Foundation has trained more than 7,000 mediators, mediated over 27,000 disputes with an 85% successful resolution rate.
The Foundation also supports dialogue forum, Sambad Samuha, in five conflict hotspot districts to facilitate dialogue, collaboration, and coordination to resolve regional conflicts that are of interest to national-level discussions on federalism and issues pertaining to identity, community, and politics. In addition, the Foundation has been working with the National Judicial Academy (NJA) to develop institutional capacity of the justice sector towards application of restorative justice.
Building on its institutional capital on conflict resolution and restorative justice, the Foundation has also been expanding the use of restorative justice in regional dialogue programs, especially in the wake of community conflicts that have erupted in different parts of the country.
With support from The Asia Foundation and other organizations, Nepal has developed a well established mechanism for mediation. As it is a simple way to settle the disputes, community mediation has become popular in Nepal.