UN for new political mission for Nepal

The new mission in Nepal is expected to include 186 military monitors to help enforce a peace pact between the government and the Maoist rebels.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 09:45 IST

The UN Security Council reached an agreement on Monday on a new mission in Nepal that was expected to include 186 military monitors to help enforce a peace pact between the government and Maoist rebels.

The council last month approved an advance group of 35 monitors in response to formal requests from both sides that the United Nations intervene immediately to monitor disarmament of the rebels and make sure the army stays in their barracks.

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, this month's council president, said he expected a British-drafted resolution to be adopted on Tuesday authorising the mission. "There is agreement among Security Council members," he said.

The Maoists and a seven-party government in November signed a peace accord declaring a formal end to a decade-old conflict in which more than 13,000 people died, up to 5,000 civilians disappeared, children were recruited in the war effort and sexual violence was common, UN reports say.

The resolution says the new operation would be called UNMIN, the UN Mission in Nepal, and headed by a special representative, currently Briton Ian Martin.

It would monitor disarmament under the peace agreement, help with planning for the election of a constituent assembly later this year and provide a small team of electoral monitors to review the polling process.

The mandate is for 12 months, subject to renewal, in the expectation that "UNMIN will be a focused mission of limited duration," the measure said.

But on Monday, Nepalese police fired at anti-government protesters in the southern town of Lahan in violence that threatens to derail the peace process. Two people were killed and more than four dozen were wounded.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has fielded an operation in Nepal since May 2005 and has some 60 employees on the ground. UNICEF intends to beef up its operation to aid children. The United Nations also is sending election officials to help with a poll later this year for a constituent assembly.

One task of the human rights monitors is to promote a criminal justice system that is accessible to all, including the Dalits, considered untouchable on the Hindu caste ladder, women, survivors of sexual violence and the rural poor, according to a report from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But it is unclear how perpetrators of the war crimes would be brought to justice.

During the conflict, most government functions ceased in many parts of the country, which is wedged between India and China. "Close to 70 per cent of village-level administrators were displaced," the report said. "To date, the Nepal police have only reestablished some 300 out of roughly 1,300 pre-conflict stations and posts."

First Published: Jan 23, 2007 09:45 IST