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UN Awaits Clarification On Nepalese Peace Process

UN awaiting clarification on future support to Nepalese peace process

14 July 2008 - While Nepal's interim Government has requested that the United Nations continue its presence there - albeit in a smaller form - to help the South Asian nation consolidate its hard-won peace, the world body is seeking clarification on the scope of any future support, according to a new report made public today.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was established in January 2007 to assist the country, which emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.

It is also responsible for monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army, and assist in monitoring ceasefire arrangements.

In his latest report to the Security Council on Nepal's request for UN assistance in support of its peace process, Mr. Ban writes that the convening of the democratically-elected Constituent Assembly on 28 May was a "milestone" in Nepal's peace process.

The Assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution within the next two years and will also act as the legislature during this transitional period.

The Secretary-General notes that there is a "broad consensus" among the country's political parties and civil society that a continuing UN political presence and monitoring of arms and armed personnel "remain important to the completion of the peace process, and in particular to a successful transition regarding the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel."

He has received a formal request from the interim Government for the continuation of UNMIN - whose current mandate expires on 23 July - "at a smaller scale" for an additional six months.

While UNMIN is well placed to assist in the management of arms and army personnel, Mr. Ban says he does not believe that current monitoring arrangements should be necessary for much longer.

"The key requirement now is not the continuation of monitoring arrangements so much as the transition to a durable and permanent solution. The United Nations' monitoring role must thus be understood in the context of immediate efforts to reach decisions on the underlying issues, which the United Nations will assist as requested," he writes.

"However, the letter I have received from the interim Government lacks the clarity that is required for me to recommend a continuing United Nations presence in the form of a special political mission."

The Secretary-General has asked his Special Representative for Nepal Ian Martin to seek further clarification from the Government about the scope of support it would like to receive from UNMIN before submitting his formal recommendation to the Security Council on the Mission's future.

If the matter remains unresolved by the time the Council considers the current report, Mr. Ban recommends a one-month extension for the Mission to give the Government time to respond to his request.

However, if the clarification is received and a six-month extension of the political mission is mandated, he intends to submit a report to the Council after three months on the progress and further possible downsizing of the Mission.

Meanwhile, UNMIN has drawn up a contingency plan for a "radically downsized mission," which would result in a reduction of at least 70 per cent in the substantive staffing of the Mission.

The Arms Monitoring Office would be maintained, initially at the strength of 90 arms monitors, which is less than half the previous authorized strength but could sustain monitoring obligations under the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies for a limited period.

The Electoral Assistance Office has already been closed, and the plan also entails, among other things, closing the Office of Civil Affairs and all regional offices at the end of the current mandate.

ENDS

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