A much awaited press briefing by UNMIN’s Ian Martin was held on the 12th of June, 2007. The text of this briefing (which has “surprisingly” failed to appear on UNMIN’s official website) begins with the following declaration: “I can at last confirm that the second stage of registration and verification of Maoist army personnel will begin this week at the main cantonment site in Ilam, in the east of Nepal (Ian Martin, June 12, 2007).”
Less than 2 days after Martin trumpeted the initiation of the second phase of arms monitoring, the Maoists unilaterally postponed the event. UNMIN’s response was limited to a whimpering “expectation” to hear from the Maoists when the second state of arms registration may proceed.
Once again, UNMIN’s ability to effectively deliver on its mandate, was severely undermined in the eyes of the Nepali public (and those who care to follow developments in Nepal, internationally). This still didn’t stop former US President Jimmy Carter from announcing that the Maoists were in compliance with UN and international regulations, but this is a topic for another time.
In essence, this is how Nepal’s peace process has progressed all along – at the whim of the Maoists.
Independent third parties that assist in conflict resolution remind their audience from time-to-time, exactly what their mandate is. Coincidentally, such reminders tend to surface close to situations when third parties have prior knowledge of difficulties ahead and feel the need to distance themselves from impending humiliation.
In such cases, third parties engage in “risk-management” by clarifying their precise roles and responsibilities, to avoid controversy later. This is exactly what UNMIN’s press statement of June 12, 2007 was all about – predicting areas where Nepal’s peace process is likely to falter and getting UNMIN’s name as far (and as quickly) disassociated from such complexities, as possible.
According to Ian Martin, UNMIN is not responsible for the following:
- The processes and procedures by which Maoist combatants are to be paid is outside the UN’s area of responsibility – This clarification indicates the risk of funds (that have been allocated to the Moaists) not making it into the hands of Maoist combatants (further escalating a crisis that is sure to be had).
- UNMIN is not responsible for the improvement of conditions at Maoist cantonment sites, although they have offered to “help” – Again, signs that funds allocated to the Maoists through Hisila Yami may not achieve their intended allocation goals.
- UNMIN is not responsible for verifying the “suitability” of Maoist combatants for integration into the national army – Another highly contentious issue that is unlikely to be resolved, before Constituent Assembly elections.
The rest of Martin’s press release presents a realistic set of challenges to holding “free and fair” elections. Many of the same points were outlined in Moriarty’s farewell speech and then reiterated in Jimmy Carter’s summary (a spectacular feat in which Carter summarized 14 months of progress by engaging in 4 days of meetings, proving the point that former Presidents are either exceptionally smart or borderline senile).
To the dismay of many however, Martin’s press release focused on protecting UNMIN’s image and pointing out the challenges that lie ahead, but made absolutely no mention of treaty violations that have been documented to date, or the consequences of continued violations.
As signatories of the “Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2006” and the “Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies 8 December 2006,” the Maoist “party” of Nepal is in flagrant violation of numerous articles of signed and ratified accords.
Partially as a consequence of a delayed second round of UNMIN verifications and mostly as a result of systematic breaches, the Nepali Maoists are in violation of the articles (extracted from the “Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies 8 December 2006”), outlined below:
Section-1.1: Both parties agree to not include or use children who are 18 years old and under in the armed forces.
- Mr. Ian Martin: Didn't the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict express hope that children in the ranks of the Maoists be demobilized and reintegrated at the earliest? (http://www.nepalnews.com.np/archive/2007/may/may12/news07.php) Then how can you claim ignorance and say that any mention of child combatants was from Human Rights Watch, alone? (http://www.nepalnews.com.np/archive/2007/may/may16/news17.php)
- Mr. Ian Martin: Please learn to treat the average Nepali person with some respect. Do not assume that because many of our countrymen did not grow up with running water that we are ignorant. We know when we are being taken for a ride. For example, when you tell us in the same paragraph that: One, you cannot verify whether the Maoists have bought foreign arms; And two, that UNMIN has inventoried AK-47s in the Maoist arsenal. We are smart enough to infer that the AK-47s you found did not drop out of the sky. (http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2007/feb/feb23/news07.php)
- Mr. Ian Martin: We understand that you are operating in a difficult position. We only ask that you carry out your duties professionally and transparently and that you exercise complete impartiality in your dealings with the Maoist leadership (and the YCL), and that you not make excuses for either. We do not particularly care about your personal leanings or your political orientation. We do care that you carry out what you are paid to do - ensure that Nepal's peace process is realistic, sustainable and not lopsided.
Further evidence of continued material violations of Section-1.1 are documented below:
No comment on these continued violations has surfaced from UNMIN, Mr. Martin or the JMCC. The Nepali people deserve to know why?
Section 1.2 (8): Maoist Army Combatants: For the purposes of this agreement this will include regular active duty members of the Maoist army who joined service before May 25 2006, who are not minors and who are able to demonstrate their service, including by CPN(M) identify card and other means.
- Using the same evidence presented above, the Maoists are in complete violation of this article because they continue to employ child soldiers, below the age of 18.
Section 3: The Nepal Police and Armed Police Force shall continue the task of maintaining law and order and conduct criminal investigations as per the spirit and sentiment of Jana Andolan and peace accord as well as the prevailing law.
- Through the YCL, the Maoists are in material violation of this article also. The most blatant violation was the Maoist shooting of a madhesi protestor in Lahan, which sparked civil unrest and led to numerous killing. Why has the guilty party not been brought to justice and why has UNMIN not declared that and number of YCL activities as being in material breach of the agreed upon articles of signed treaties?
Section 4.1.3: All Maoist army combatants will be registered at the main cantonment sites.
- Ian Martin himself knows that this article was violated the very day the YCL organization was set up (he has expressed as much behind closed doors). Senior members of the YCL have admitted publicly, their involvement in the assassination of former IGP of the APF (Mohan Krishna Shrestha). There is ample evidence which links YCL cadre to Maoist combatants and UNMIN is fully aware of this. So the question is, why has UNMIN remained silent of this issue? Clearly, not ALL MAOIST ARMY COMBATANTS are registered at the main cantonment sites? Why has UNMIN failed to point out this violation?
Section 5.1: …..the parties shall scrupulously refrain from:
Holding and carrying arms in violation of the law. Displaying arms, intimidation and any type of use of violence is prohibited, and use of arms is legally punishable.
- Examples of Maoist violations are documented below. UNMIN has failed to comment on these violations, thus giving Maoists added impetus to continue their disregard for agreements and continue their violations.
Harming or intimidating any person, including internally displaced persons, humanitarian and development workers and other non-combatants, and any seizure of their equipment and property;
- Where systematic violations of this article is concerned, there are only three words that need be said: “Young,” “Confused,” and “Lost” (YCL).
The above are a select few articles that the Maoists are in violation of. The bigger picture of course is as follows: Maoist combatants are supposed to be registered and in cantonments; instead we find Maoist combatants amongst the YCL’s leadership, roaming urban centers and terrorizing the populous.
If as Martin stated, UNMIN is “strongly committed” to the achievement of “free and fair elections,” what is UNMIN doing (but turning a blind eye) to heaps of evidence that has mounted, pointing to systematic violations of agreed-upon principles that underpin Nepal’s peace process?
Jimmy Carter (as a private citizen) may have the audacity to claim that the Maoists are in compliance with UN and international norms; but this does not excuse UNMIN and Ian Martin from not pointing out a pattern of systemic violations and non-compliance, demonstrated by the Maoists since the day UNMIN set foot in Nepal.
Mr. Martin’s job is not an easy one. But hiding facts that are so apparent to every Nepali and every international observer, doesn’t make the prospects of UNMIN’s long-term success any better. Ian Martin should know that responsible Nepali citizens will not stand by idly while he replicates the mockery of a peace process that he led in East Timor.
It is advisable that Mr. Martin get with the program and get with it quickly. It is vital that Martin exercise some of the transparency the United Nations is famous for enforcing on others by speaking not only of things that manage exposure to his organization (and what UNMIN isn’t responsible for). He needs to also talk about things that UNMIN is responsible for and Mr. Martin needs to start (at a minimum) by ensuring compliance with accords signed in his very presence. This, he needs to do without exception.
Words for the Wise on the Management of Insurgent Armshttp://nepaliperspectives.blogspot.com/2006/11/words-for-wise-on-management-of.html
The "New Nepal" - The Maoist Way or the Highway?
US House of Representatives, Resolution 1051 – In Support of Peace and Democracy in Nepal
The UN and Maoist Arms Controversy: Overkill or Negligence?
UN Fast Losing Credibility in Nepal
Young, Confused and Lost (YCL) – The Hammer of the Maoist “Party” of Nepal