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Status and Trends
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Nepal
January 2001 to March 2007
38th Session of United Nations
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Sub-Committee on ESCR
Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee Nepal
Sub-committee on ESCR, c/o Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)
Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee (HRTMCC)
Mr. Arjun Bagale, DNF
Ms. Bidhya Chapagain, HRTMCC Secretariat/INSEC
Mr Jagat Basnet, CSRC
Mr Prakash Gnyawali, INSEC
Ms. Radhika Pokharel, ForestAction
Mr Ram Prasad Gautam, RRN
Mr. Ratna Shrestha, FWLD
Ms. Sama Bajra, LUMANTI
Mr Kamdev Khanal
Mr Bal Krishna Kattel
Mr. Sarba Raj Khadka
© Sub- Committee on ESCR, HRTMCC, 2007, Nepal
Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee (HRTMCC) is a coalition of 47 human rights organisations, functioning as a joint forum for all human rights NGOs in Nepal. It monitors and disseminates information on the status of state obligations to the UN human rights treaties in the form of alternative reports as well as other publications. HRTMCC is also active in domestic lobbying for the protection and promotion of human rights. Earlier, HRTMCC has submitted alternative reports to the UN treaty bodies on CERD and CAT as well as an Assessment Report on ICESCR.
Materials from this report can be reproduced, republished and circulated with due acknowledgement of the source. We would appreciate being informed of the use of materials and receiving a copy of the document where possible.
This report presents the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) status and trends in Nepal during the period of January 2001 to December 2006. It aims to review and analyse state policies, legislations, programmes, and institutional arrangements, as well as their implementation in the context of economic, social and cultural rights. It is a combined effort of different human rights organisations and civil society members, who provided ground information to the Committee on ESCR about the condition of economic, social and cultural rights in Nepal. It focuses on specific issues, which the state has failed to address, or has inadequately dealt with.
Nepal is now in transition from a decade-long armed conflict to 'lasting peace’, a phase devoid of unequal social, political and economic systems that sustain structural discrepancies and discrimination between different groups of people. As such, the Nepali society is in a critical point in time, one filled with enormous challenges. The issue of transforming a feudal structure and society, fragmented along a patriarchal worldview and caste hierarchy remains to be the major hurdle to the full realisation of ESCR.
Today, opportunities seem to be unfolding due to the favourable environment. The comprehensive peace accord reached between the Nepal Government and Communist Party of Nepal (CPN Maoist), promulgation of an interim constitution, dissolution of the reinstated parliament, and the formation of an interim legislature-parliament including the Maoists, are considered steps to resolve some of the pending issues of mainstreaming the political, social and economic agenda of the country. The Maoists have also expressed commitments to multi-party democratic politics, principles of rule of law, civil liberties, and fundamental human rights, among others.
Despite these, the fulfilment of ESCR in Nepal is still a distant dream. Commitments made in the higher political level to guarantee the rights of the people have yet to be implemented. At the forefront, exclusion, discrimination, violence, powerlessness and structural inequalities are the underlying causes that hinder the realisation of ESCR. Other factors include political instability and remnants of armed insurgency. These are more prevalent in rural and remote areas where unequal power relations, disparate distribution of land and income, lack of basic facilities, and discrimination are taking their toll on the dignity and self-respect of the people.
The success of the people's movement has provided the Nepalese with an opportunity to exercise political freedom and have the benefit of ESCR. Continued success will lie in how this opportunity will be tapped by the society. Civil and political rights can only be fully enjoyed when the economic, social and cultural rights of the people are ascertained. Freedom of speech does not make any sense to a person who is not free from hunger. In this way, the realisation of ESCR not only addresses the socio-economic and livelihood problems of the people but also supports the full enjoyment of civil and political rights.
Several people and organisations have contributed to the preparation of this report. I would like to thank the friends working within the Sub-Committee on ESCR under the Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee (HRTMCC) for their effort in preparing this report. My sincere thanks go to the participants of the consultative meeting who gave us firsthand information on the situation of ESCR. I am equally thankful to other NGOs/CSOs who assisted us by providing information and other support.
My special thanks go to the members of the writing committee and the special contributors. I also thank all the staff members of RRN and HRTMCC Secretariat, INSEC for their consistent dedication to produce the report in this form.
My colleagues and I at RRN are very much pleased to have been given the opportunity of undertaking this important task. We are confident that the report will be useful for the Committee on ESCR and other relevant bodies to understand and act on behalf of the international community to help improve the ESCR situation in Nepal.
Arjun Karki, PhD
Sub-committee on ESCR, HRTMCC
President, RRN and NGO Federation of Nepal