Ethnic and indigenous groups in Nepal’s peacebuilding processes

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Clare Castillejo, 17 March 2017

The historical exclusion of indigenous and ethnic groups was a driver of conflict in Nepal. How to address such identity-based exclusion became a central and highly divisive issue within the country’s peace and constitutional processes, expressed in competing visions for federalism and state restructuring. Since the conflict ended, ethnic and indigenous groups have mobilised in unprecedented ways to participate in politics and influence the direction of Nepal’s peacebuilding process. However, ultimately a new constitution was developed by a restricted group of political elites that failed to deliver on the aspirations of indigenous and ethnic groups. The resulting protests and alienation of these groups could threaten Nepal’s stability.

This report explores how ethnic and indigenous groups participated in conflict, peacemaking and constitutional reform in Nepal. It examines the ways in which they mobilised and the factors that shaped their ability to exercise influence. The report also asks how international actors have engaged with indigenous and ethnic groups and with issues of identity-based exclusion, arguing that at this critical time Nepal’s donors must strengthen their engagement in this area.