Following exit of the UN Mission in Nepal in January without completing its task, another UN body — Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is also on the way out even as the country passes through transition from conflict to peace.
The mandate of OHCHR’s Nepal office, as per the renewed agreement with Nepal government signed in June last year, expires on Thursday.
And despite pressure from human rights bodies, the opposition and civil society to extend its tenure, the government is in no mood to relent.
In the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between Maoists and the Nepal government in 2006, that marked end of the 10 year civil war, both sides had agreed that OHCHR would continue to monitor human rights issues till the peace process is concluded.
While several important developments have taken place recently towards concluding the process, it’s not completed yet. And continuing impunity by successive governments for murders committed during the civil war and disappearances of hundreds are still a concern.
“Continuing the UN human rights office is critical to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights issues during this transitional period,” feels Tejshree Thapa, South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human rights body.
The Article 7 of CPA promises creation of atmosphere where civil, political, economic and social rights of Nepali citizens are protected.
And Article 9 of the agreement entrusts OHCHR to monitor the human rights provisions and their implementation as per the agreement.
“For Nepal to ask OHCHR to leave at a time when impunity for rights abuses remains the norm is unwise and contrary to the spirit in which the CPA was drafted,” says Frederick Rawski, Nepal representative for the International Commission of Jurists.
The two main opposition parties-Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the National Human Rights Commission, with which the UN body works jointly, have also urged the government to extend OHCHR’s mandate.
But the government remains firm, as of now, that OHCHR should stop its work on December 8 and leave Nepal by June 8 next year.
Last minute efforts are still on get at least another year’s extension for the UN body.