(Courtesy: NepaliPerspectives Group)
Presented below is an exchange between UNMIN and NepaliPerspectives. At the request of the UNMIN personnel with whom NepaliPerspecties corresponded, names have been withheld to respect generally accepted norms on private e-mail exchanges. As further consideration, responses provided by UNMIN are paraphrased whereas the responses from NepaliPerspectives Moderators are in their original form.
The need to publicly disclose the contents of this conversation are manifold. Chief amongm them are the following:
- An examination of the exchange below clearly demonstrates UNMIN's tendency to out rightly dismiss valid criticism by immediately falling back on its "mandate" excuse;
- This exchange clearly demonstrates the condescending attitude that UNMIN maintains towards its critics whereby critics are instantly dismissed (side-tracked) on the basis of being a detractor (as opposed to the substance of the criticism being forwarded);
- UNMIN's poorly negotiated mandate runs the immediate risk of giving the United Nations a "black eye" in Nepal;
- UNMIN demonstrates a very "consultant" like attitude towards Nepal's peace process whereas Nepalis view UNMIN as a "stakeholder."
- Like any other organization, UNMIN is only transparent when it is forced to be; in Nepal, since the vast majority of trained journalists, academics and civil society elite either directly work for or are affiliated with UNMIN, the necessary oversight is completely absent.
The points made above are amply demonstrated by the summarized exchange below.
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1. NepaliPerspectives forwards E-mail to UNMIN personnel
Given UNMIN's inability to enforce the terms and conditions of Nepal's "Comprehensive Peace Agreement" and the "Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies," a timely re-visit of the systemic shortcomings in UNMIN's mandate becomes necessary.
Catalogued below are posts on NepaliPerspectives that chronicle UNMIN's lacklustre performance in Nepal and ideas on how such deficiencies may be remediated.
FULL TEXT LOCATED AT THE FOLLOWING URL:
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2. UNMIN Responds to the Original Message from NepaliPerspectives
After a cursory glance of the contents of the first paragraph (and without even the slightest consideration of what the provided link entails), an individual at UNMIN provides the following response (paraphrased based on request for privacy):
- UNMIN respondent "supposed" that he/she "could" thank NepaliPerspectives for the message.
- UNMIN respondent indicated that the NepaliPerspectives message was "somewhat confused."
- UNMIN respondent focused on NepaliPerspectives's mention of "UNMIN's inability to enforce the terms and conditions of Nepal's "Comprehensive Peace Agreement"' in the context of a call for review.
- UNMIN respondent accepted that UNMIN does not have a mandate to enforce the CPA.
- UNMIN respondent indicated that the Nepali parties did not ask that the UN have such a mandate.
- UNMIN respondent indicated that thus, to criticize the performance of UNMIN based on a lack of understanding of its mandate in a "unfortunate" result from such "prolific" commentators.
- UNMIN respondent offered to meet with NepaliPerspectives to provide a "brief" on "UNMIN's mandate and activities" so that NepaliPerspectives may be "fully informed."
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3. rejoinder to UNMIN (message not paraphrased)
Dear Sir / Madam:
Our moderators feel it is important for all sides to be heard. So we invite you to write to NepaliPerspectives, at your leisure.
Although contributors to our web log display varying degrees of (subject matter) knowledge, our combined moderator team is intimately familiar with UNMIN's mandate in Nepal. We are also well versed on conditions that have made UN missions successful in some peace keeping efforts and failures in others.
Our team takes the time and effort to push back when issues are confused and in this particular case, we would argue that it was improper for UNMIN to not negotiate an effective mandate for itself, at the start of its involvement in Nepal. And if UNMIN's mandate is the over-riding factor that underpins its delivery capabilities, then we would argue that it is equally improper for UNMIN to comment on peripheral issues that do not currently fall within a strict interpretation of UNMIN's mandate. If a strict interpretation is the thrust of your message to us, then it would behove Mr. Martin to refrain from commenting on any facet of the peace process that is not directly within the realm of your current, explicit mandate. Selective objectivity is neither a good display of independence, nor impartiality.
To further address your concern, we recognize that "enforcement" is not part of your current mandate. Why then, would your organization accept a mandate that it is ill-equipped to carry through to fruition? This, we believe, is the crux of the message that the post on NepaliPerspectives has delivered.
A related point is as follows: UNMIN had the mandate from all parties to use finger printing technology and mobile data bases during its first round of arms monitoring. This is something that was within UNMIN's mandate - something all parties had agreed to. Our question to you is, why did UNMIN fail to employ this technology in Nepal when this has become a proven, indisputable verification asset in other theatres?
It seems rather presumptuous to us (name removed upon request), that you would attribute an entire page of writing to an alleged misunderstanding of your mandate, by examining a single introductory paragraph. We would urge you to carefully consider the flaws in your own understanding of what is in UNMIN's mandate, what should have been in UNMIN's mandate, and how your organization plans to rectify these gaps before UNMIN's role in Nepal becomes defunct.
The point that is being made is rather simple (name removed upon request) - If something is not in UNMIN's mandate and you feel it should be, it's time to speak up.
As Nepalis and well wishers of Nepal, we realize the importance of UNMIN in the overall context of Nepal's peace process. However, we also realize (based on ample historical evidence) that the UN in peace keeping situations, tends to be more comfortable playing the role of a consultant as opposed to a stakeholder. It is our opinion that UNMIN's mentality needs a shift from its current "consultant" mode to a more responsible "stake-holder" mode, in Nepal.
Should Nepal's peace process fail, it is unlikely that the UN's critics, the international community and more importantly, 27 million Nepalis will take your interpretation of our misunderstanding of UNMIN's mandate, lightly.
We meet you on a weekly basis (name removed for privacy purposes). We "meet" you on the web, we "meet" you via e-mail and our colleagues meet you in person. Please consider this message a courtesy briefing from the NepaliPerspecitves Group on the external perception of UNMIN's performance-to-date.
It is our explicit desire that you also remain informed, at all times. We appreciate that you have taken the time to read (even if it was just a paragraph) of some hard hitting facts that you may otherwise be unexposed to.
In the tradition transparent conversation, the contents of this discussion (our original message, your response, and our rejoinder) will be placed on NepaliPerspecitves. If you have any objections, please let us know, immediately.
4. UNMIN response to NepaliPerspecitves rejoinder
- UNMIN responder explicitly stated that his/her comment not be placed on NepaliPerspectives, that it was not a comment for publication, but rather a personal e-mail response.
- UNMIN responder reiterated his/her offer to attend a briefing.
- UMIN responder kindly requested that if the intent is to publish correspondences, that he/she be notified in advance.
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5. NepaliPerpspectives response to UNMIN
Dear (name removed upon request):
Although it is not within our group's "mandate" to comply with your request (as we are not an an official media organization), we are compelled by professional (and moral) integrity to respect your request for privacy, so your request will be honoured.
There will be no mention of names, only paraphrased content that cannot be tied back to any individual. Our approach will be very similar to UNMIN's verification process where it is impossible to tie back weapon types, to the number of weapons or combatant counts, to disqualified combatants.
I am sure you can appreciate the irony in this particular exchange. It may simply be a misunderstanding of what it is you perceive to be the NepaliPerspectives Group's mandate, and we are happy to clarify this for you at any time.
Again, we thank you for your invitation to a briefing. As we'd mentioned earlier, our colleagues are in contact with you and your office on a near daily basis so a private briefing is not needed. We are certain your time would be better spent on more pressing matters.
On a serious note, we look forward to UNMIN's success in Nepal. Our goal in outlining deficiencies is not to weaken your organization's resolve, it is to strengthen it. Please do not misinterpret our group's self-declared mandate.
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6. UNMIN response to NepaliPerspectives
- UNMIN responder explained that he/she would continue to share media material with NepaliPerspectives.
- UNMIN responder expressed their (UNMIN's) deep respect for " the vibrant and independent media, and modern e-media, in Nepal, and the importance of this in the peace process and the wider democratic process."
- - - - - - - - - -Related Posts:
UNMIN's Arms Verification Process in Nepal - More Timely Information and Transparency Needed
UNMIN Clarifies its Role but Just in Time to be Humiliated by the Maoists
UN Fast Losing Credibility in Nepal