Nepal: Address by SRSG at the UN Day event, Kathmandu

Ian Martin

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal Speech at UN Day event Kathmandu 24 October 2008

Honorable Foreign Minister, Distinguished Guests, Friends and Colleagues,

United Nations Day usually coincides with the important festivals of Dashain and Tihar, a time of reflection on past achievements and future hopes. It was in 2005, as the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that I first celebrated UN Day in Nepal. At that time there appeared to be no end in sight to a conflict with thousands of civilian victims, and democracy seemed far from the horizon. Today, among the many continuing conflicts and failing peace processes around the world, the major steps that Nepal has taken in its peace process deserve to be recognized. For fifty years Nepalis have served in United Nations' peace operations around the world, and now the UN has responded to Nepal's request for support to its own peace process.

While the historic election and the formation of an inclusive Constituent Assembly are indeed landmark achievements, there are major challenges still ahead for the successful conclusion of the peace process. Sustaining peace requires the broadest possible consensus on a new federal constitution, as well as efforts to heal the wounds of the conflict - to clarify the fate of those who disappeared, to compensate victims, to enable the return of displaced persons to their homes, to undertake an honest and inevitably painful acknowledgement of the truth of past human rights violations, and to end impunity.

No peace process can be said to be complete while there are two armies in one country. I hope that the efforts now being made to establish the special committee responsible for the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army combatants on a multiparty basis, as agreed, will soon be successful. A continuing spirit of dialogue and compromise, and an approach of seeking consensus on the toughest issues related to completing the peace process, will be essential to its ultimate success.

The United Nations has resumed discussions with a new Minister of Peace and Reconstruction and with the Maoist army about the need for rapid progress regarding the overdue discharge of those still in the cantonments who were found during the verification process to have been minors in May 2006, or recruited after that date.

Next week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Nepal, as did four previous Secretary-Generals: U Thant, Kurt Waldheim, Javier Perez de Cuellar, and Kofi Annan. This visit is the highest symbol of the United Nations' interest in Nepal's peace process and commitment to see it fully realized.

We look forward to continuing to support the people of Nepal in achieving the lasting peace, development and respect for all human rights which they deserve and expect.