16 days global activism against violence against women organized by Human Rights and Gender Justice Research Center (HRGJ), an autonomous center of KSL, concluded on 10th December 2005 celebrating International Human Rights Day with unanimous commitment to eliminate gender based violence in the community and in nation at large respecting values of human rights and dignity. The program concluded under chairman ship of Assoc. Prof. Yubaraj Sangroula, Executive Director, KSL. Mrs. Madhuri Singh, Development Program Specialist, Anti- Trafficiking & Child Labor, USAID/Nepal was the Chief Guest and keynote speaker for the program.
The first session of the program continued with four presentations on research findings by teams of KSL students. The topics of presentation covered different themes: Role of National Human Rights Commission in the Area of Women in Conflict ; Geneva Convention: Commitment of Nepal in International Humanitarian Law ; Violence against Women (VAW) and Role of Academic Institutions; VAW in Tamang Community of Nagarkot VDC.
The first presentation dealt with activities and programs conducted by NHRC in the area of women in conflict and violence. The next presentation on Geneva Convention: Commitment of Nepal in International Humanitarian Law highlighted the various principles which state including non state actors should be bound with: principle of humanity, principle of necessity, principle of discrimination, principle of proportionality, principle of command responsibility, & the principle of intervention. The presentation also showed that though Nepal accessed the four Geneva Conventions on 7th Feb. 2005, it has not promulgated the Geneva Convention Act till present for its better implementation.
The third presentation was on VAW: Role of Academic Institution which contemplated Violence as physical, sexual, and psychological harm inflicted upon women's dignity and personhood. Linking to these issues, the presentation critically analyzed the role of academic institution to eliminate this sort of violence. The presentation recommended that compulsory education on VAW needs to be launched by every academic institution from primary level of education.
The final presentation was on the topic VAW in Tamang Community, Sankhu, Nagarkot. The research finding was based on researchers' interview with 25 households which depicted that the ratio of boys and girls with respect to their primary education is on the same footing. They, however, found the blink picture concerning the higher education as more boys were encouraged and facilitated to go for schooling than girls. The researchers found that this tamang society is launching adults' education program by their own efforts. The presentation also showed that there is no prevalence of the custom of dowry and witch craft in their community. Thus, the presentation made conclusion that Tamang community is much more liberal and progressive than other community.
The presentation session was followed by photographic presentation depicting different themes of human rights.
The declarations were also announced by Mrs. Geeta Pathak, HoD, LL.M Program (Coordinator, HRGJ center) to conduct moot court on VAW as next celebration of 16 days activism. The moot court competition aims to mainstream KSL students in advocacy and mooting to meet the international level. Another declaration was on expanding victim's desk in the center forming mobile clinic for VAW in cooperation with Restorative Justice Center of KSL.
Key note speech from the chief guest was followed then after. Mrs. Singh, in her speech, acknowledged the practical teaching methodology of KSL. Entering into the theme of the program, she highlighted that violence does not occur in complexity, which is the stereotypical understanding of violence; it is rather a game of "power" being played by powerful to powerless. Acknowledging the research findings of students, she suggested that the study should be disseminated widely not confining it within KSL. Recalling the 16 days celebration and Mont rail Massacre of December 6, she urged participants to contemplate on the question: does violence takes place only in uneducated, domestic scenario? as this incident demystifies this thinking. She then urged to think does violence then occur because women are women?
She further shared her experience saying that in Nepal
the situation is progressively changing though not in high pace. She
recalled the situation at past when SATHI started its campaign against
violence against women. She said that there was silence and denial of the
violence in those days. Presently, the silence is broken but still there
is denial of domestic violence. She accentuated that domestic
violence is the root cause of other violence and therefore focus should be
to eliminate it with join efforts of both men and women, like that of
white ribbon Champaign. Lastly, speaking on behalf of USAID, she remarked
that US government is positive in campaigning issues of elimination of
violence and trafficking issue and expressed her delight to be part of KSL
in its initiatives.
Report by: Reena Pathak, LL.B 5th Year
|Seminar on Social Aspects of Legal Dimension of HIV/AIDS and the concern of Human Rights|
As a follow up of World Human Rights day on December 10th 2005, a proactive seminar on the above subject matter was held in Kathmandu School of Law (KSL) premises in collaboration with Conscious Media, Shantinagar and KSL. Two of KSL students were involved in presenting the paper namely Ms Reena Pathak and Mr. Ram Sharan Pokharel, students of LL.B 5th year KSL
With the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, modern human rights dialogue provided a logical theoretical framework for identifying and analyzing the societal root causes of vulnerability to HIV. In accordance a common vocabulary for describing the commonalities that underlie the specific situations of vulnerable people around the world, and clarity about the necessary direction of health-promoting societal transformation has been a prime area of concern.
World has recognized that today in the arena of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, human rights issues are centrally important for the design and implementation of public health strategies for prevention and control of an infectious disease. The strategic linkage between HIV/AIDS and human rights reflects a deepening awareness of the complexity of interactions between human rights and health.
First speaker was Reena Pathak, who talked about the legal dimension of HIV/AIDS and the concern of Human Rights while her colleague Ram Sharan Pokharel, followed after her articulating on the second part of the research on social aspects of HIV/AIDS. Ms. Pathak highlighted Human rights as an inherent right. She said human rights are basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, including life, liberty, freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law. Further correlating the issue of human rights to that of public health, she said human rights have major relevance for shaping appropriate responses to the HIV epidemic and other global health challenges.
Flinging light on the right to life of HIV/AIDS patient she said their dignity should be respected and protected. Her research recognized three integrity of Human Rights that can be allied with HIV epidemic, first the human rights helps states to respond legally to the growing challenge of HIV, second it provides non governmental and advocacy groups to monitor the performances of states and to take action to redress public health policies, and third is the obligations of health practitioners to eloquent in the interest of infected people with regard to their protection and promotion on their will.
Her analysis pointed out to the deep seated social stigma towards HIV and suggested that state strengthens its institutional arrangements; strongly infuse the constitutional provision of various rights and safe guard its citizens through different legal mechanism. She also stressed that Nepal recognizes national and international treaties and customary international laws that respects the human rights.
Focusing on the international arrangements, Ms. Pathak said, International guidelines on HIV/AIDS and human right propose the states, through political and financial support to ensure community consultation in all phases of HIV/AIDS policy design, programme implementation and evaluation. National associates – comprising lawyers, other professionals and people living with HIV/AIDS should be united. Concluding she said issue is multi-sectoral and public health and human rights are complementary, not conflicting goals.
Remarking on her research paper Megha Raj Sharma, lecturer at Nepal Law Campus, said that her work has rightly identified the issue as being multi-sectoral. Rationalizing her research as multi-sectoral, he said HIV/AIDS is issue of politics and development. It’s an ache for state when it has to downpour its limited financial resources into combating the diseases and on the other hand we will be loosing productive man power. Stating an example of Botswana, he said every 1 out of 3 people are infected. Mr. Sharma pointed out to the deeply rooted stigma of disgrace that is not helping to control but is fueling the spread of disease. As society has different eyes on infected people, they are far less likely to reveal the disease and there is a great potential that carrier will transmit to second person.
Concluding he underlined on three points as to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS; first is the massive educational programme (awareness programme) on schools, colleges and informal and formal institutions, second is court from where larger audience can be aware of the HIV/AIDS cases and third is advocacy, where larger audience can be sensitized.
Besides, talking about the medical reasons to the spread of virus, Ram Sharan Pokharel highlighted on the social aspects of HIV/AIDS. He said in the early phase of its global history, HIV took its time to move out of high-risk groups in the West, and therefore a distinction between the risk-prone and the risk free were valid. He also talked about the major underlying facts that fuel the epidemic in Nepal as poverty, serious deprivation, gender inequality, unawareness, low literacy rate, stigma and discrimination against infected and affected with HIV and high infection rates among vulnerable communities. Concluding, he said HIV/AIDS is a multi-sectoral development issue and hence fight against should be multi-sectoral and collaborative demanding strong political commitments.
Next analysis on the paper was done by Mr. Kiran Pokharel from Consensus Media. Mr. Pokharel first talked about his organization interest of work in natural resources and public health issues. He firmly expressed that politics of HIV/AIDS has drawn vested interest of larger countries in the world. Often they deposit their self-centered interest to the poorer countries that are less influential in international politics and can not raise a question of doubt. In Nepal he said that group of bigheaded community of donor agencies have deviated the national strategies of fight against HIV/AIDS. He further said HIV/AIDS are city centered cases of donor agencies. Stating an incident of wavy role of government, he said four years ago radio repeatedly aired an advertisement in the interest of public notifying about the high risk of HIV contamination in truck drivers because of his mobility. Then USAID, one of the donor agencies of US government, came to address the problems. It bought its own home made condom neglecting the fact that condoms are made in Nepal. In doing so it projected its helpful face to Nepalese.
Next speaker was Mr. Yubaraj Sangroula, Executive Director of KSL who reiterated that human rights and public health rights are not separate terms. Mr. Sangroula stated a case story of Sindhuplachowk where earlier donor agencies had seeded the deep rooted stigma of ordeal and repulsion in the minds of villagers. The donor driven NGOs had inserted a deteriorating and humiliating slogan of to be aware of those who return from Bombay as they are carrying deadly HIV/AIDS virus. This created deep stigmatization among the HIV/AIDS patient in the village. They were denied from their basic human rights- including right to education, right to medical facility and right to justice. When CeLRRd intervened defying all the previous futile values, the villagers were not ready to accept the change. They kept on sticking to their own illusive belief. It was a painstaking task for CeLRRd to convince the villagers, Mr. Sangroula said. Further he said, reproductive rights are firmly rooted in human rights principles—including the right to respect for human dignity, the rights to liberty and security of the person, and the right to privacy. He said there should be collective jurisprudence on the rights of the people as guaranteed by the constitution.
Mr. Sangroula viewed trafficking as a potential threat to spread of HIV. He suggested that National Foreign Policy of Nepal should be strong: our boarder should not be porous, if we are really serious about stopping the spread of virus. Further he clarified that there exists a problem of discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization of people infected with HIV of population groups considered at high risk for HIV infection. In Nepal and around the world people have been frequently subjected to various levels of stigmatization, covert and overt discrimination, and even violence. Level of discrimination reaches its height when they have been excluded from school, work, marriage, and access to medical and social services. Mr. Sangroula opined. This discrimination was recognized as counterproductive in the setting of HIV prevention.
Pointing out to the spread of virus, he said our value system prevents girls and women to talk about sex, and poverty which has been incessant theme of the country is as a barrier to the fight and next is right to participation, has been inadvertently helped the spread of virus.
Speaking at the last, Professor Madhav Prasad Acharya, KSL, talked about the need to sensitize grassroots leaders of village development committee. He said once they are aware of HIV virus then these people can be best tool to reach villagers.
The connection between human rights and HIV has emerged recently through the experimentation of concept of vulnerability. A person who is able to make free and informed decisions is least vulnerable to HIV; the person who is ill informed and who has a limited ability to make decision is most vulnerable. Realizing this perspective, analysis focused on the societal risk in reducing vulnerability to HIV. It involved classifying the legal aspects into three dimensions; political/governmental, socio cultural, and economic. Political factors included lack of commitment on HIV/AIDS and governmental interference with the information flow regarding HIV/AIDS; socio cultural factors involve social norms regarding gender roles and taboos about sexuality and lastly economic issues include income disparity, poverty and the lack of resources for prevention programs.
|Orientation for Journalist On Peace Journalism|
Centre for Legal Research and Resource Development (CeLRRd) organised three separate one day orientation progrmmes with journalists of six districts of Sagarmatha and Janakpur Zones during November 21 to 25, 2005 under European Union support. The programmes were held in Lahan, Gaighat and Janakpur respectively. The programme focused on the role of media-workers for conflict transformation through encouraging non-violent alternative means of conflict resolution. Altogether 53 journalists benefited from the programme to improve their media-activities to assist peace achieving goals as a neutral third party.
The programmes were organised with the objectives of sensitizing media-workers about the peace-building process and to contribute the negotiation process by narrowing their differences and bringing the conflicting parties in a common discussion forum to resolve their differences by non-violent means. Each of the programmes was divided into three sessions of discussion. In the first session, a finding of CeLRRd study entitled "Worthy and Un-worthy Items in Media" was presented before participants and need of scientific mindedness in professional work of journalism was discussed. In the second session, discussions were held on ethical issue and role of journalist in promoting and respecting principles of human rights. Third session was focused on the difference between traditional journalism and peace journalism. The sessions were interactive and lecture with audiovisual aid and question answer was the approach in sharing the knowledge.
The first sessions of each programme was facilitated by Mr. Rabindra Bhattarai as resource person. The second sessions were dealt and facilitated by Mr. T N Ghimire. The third sessions were dealt by Mr. Bhattarai again.
A draft media manual which describes the role of media-workers in peace-building process through the approach of peace journalism was distributed to the participants to facilitate the discussion and to provide theoretical and practical guidance to advance peace journalism in their daily media works. The content of the orientation was totally related to the media sector. In the scientific mindedness in professional work of journalism following issues were discussed:
In the ethical issue, basic concepts of human rights relevant to media work, law and the international standards were discussed:
· Article 19, 26 and 27 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
· Article 16, 17, 19, 20 and 26 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
· Focus on responsibility as medium of protection of the rights of people
· Declaration of Principles on Conduct of Journalist adopted by International Federation of Journalists
In the peace journalism and role of journalists, following issues were highlighted:
· General idea of journalism
· Notion and principles of peace journalism
· Understanding peace and the conflict
· Objects and styles of peace journalism
· The difference between traditional and new approaches of conflict reporting
· Sensitive issues under peace journalism
In the beginning of each programme, a sheet of questions related to peace journalism was provided to the participants to fill up. Through the information filled by the participants, it was observed that there is scarce of guiding materials in conflict reporting. Rare of the participants have received training before in conflict reporting and concept of peace journalism. Most of the participants have expressed need for further training particularly on conflict reporting and analysis. Many journalists admitted that they don't have sufficient knowledge on ethical issues and the idea of human rights. They shared that the programmes have been effective to give them proper direction in the current crisis. Participants expressed that the provided draft manual will be helpful for them in carrying out their profession in conflict-conscious way taking great care for peace building.
|Discourse on Constitutionalism, Democratic Values and Conflict Transformation with Local Political Leaders and Students|
Centre for Legal Research and Resource Development (CeLRRd) with local partner Community Legal Research Centre (CLRC) organized three-day discussion programme in Solukumbu and Okhadunga districts with support from European Union. In Solukhumbu the programme was organized during 1st -3rd December and in Okhaldhunga during 5th to 8th December, 2005. The objective of the programme was to orient district level political leaders and students about current violent conflict, democratic values and ways of conflict transformation. About 60 local leaders representing from different political parties, non-governmental organizations and institutions and students from different educational institutions took part in the programme.
Both programmes were focused on the contemporary ongoing violent conflict; its consequences in society and projected solution. There is very significant role and responsibility of local political leader and students to recognize the root cause of ongoing conflict and to create the pressure to mainline political party and society. Recognizing this, the discussion was held with them in extensive form on different subject matter viz. Inclusive Democracy and Electoral System, Leadership and Succession Planning, Conflict Transformation, Critical and Scientific Mindedness and Civic Consciousness.
Critical and Scientific Mindedness was discussed to create very critical citizen, critical political leader and rather blind follower of any party and institution. Similarly, to include different section of the society in the mainstream of governance, new model of democracy, Inclusive Democracy in relation with electoral system was another discussion matter during the programme. Highlighting the responsibility of a citizen, Civics Consciousness was discussed during both the programmes. Cause of present violent conflict and its transformation was also a subject matter for discussion under the present situation. Leader and vision are two side of the future of the nation, so the importance of democratic leadership was discussed as the important part of programme.
Rabindra Bhattarai, Assist. Prof. of KSL, facilitated the discussion on Critical Mindedness and Conflict Transformation. He emphasized the importance of democratic leadership describing its different types. Pointing out to many examples, Mr. Bhattarai discussed the working style of Nepalese context as not being very scientific but being more traditional. He highlighted that leader is built on the basis of follower. However, to make real democratic leader we the follower must be democratic and conscious. He added that we all are equally accountable for the result of the leader's doings.
Mr. Bhattarai discussed about critical and scientific thinking and its importance in political life. He emphasized to give up conventional thinking and encourage scientific, valid, logical, rational and practical way while building one's idea regarding any issue.
Mr. Tanka Raj Aryal, Research Officer of Kathmandu School of Law facilitated the discussion on the topic of Inclusive Democracy and Electoral system in the both programmes. He linked the issue of inclusiveness on governance process of the different sections of the country. Describing the failure of political democracy, he suggested for inclusion of economic and social democracy to convert it into inclusive one. He added that participation of women, ethnic groups, dalits, marginalized people, professional and think tanker in politics and social affairs makes the democracy inclusive which creates the favorable situation for resolving conflict and sustainable development. Mr. Aryal presented the data of different parliamentary elections in Nepal and showed the failure of the current "First pass the Post" election system. He highlighted Nepalese electoral system as hi-technical and majoritarian which is causing present violent conflict. For the realization of the people as they are participating in the governance process the electoral system has to be completely changed into proportional representation system. He emphasized that electoral system is the root for sustainability of inclusive democracy.
Mr. Sukhadev Sapkota, Research Officer of Kathmandu School of Law facilitated discussion on Leadership and Civic Consciousness. The discussion was concentrated on some possible causes of present violent conflict and projected solution for its transformation. He disclosed the facts of various aspects of conflict highlighting the Nepalese context.
|Peace Programme at Dang, Kaski and Baglung district|
Leaders from political parties, youth organisations, student unions and journalists have expressed their consensus to rethink on the appropriate model of political economy and structural strategy for inclusive democracy and realized their joint responsibility to address the present crisis of governance and violence. This concern was expressed at three separate interaction programmes organized by Kathmandu School of Law (KSL) under financial support from Royal Danish Embassy and logistic support of local NGOs in Dang, Kaski and Baglung districts to discuss on democracy, constitutionalism and role of leaders, youth and journalists in institutionalization of democracy and bringing sustainable peace in the country.
Three separate programmes viz; Orientation to Journalist on Conflict Transformation and Peace Building, Discussion with political leaders on Democratic Values and Constitutionalism, and Motivation and Activation of Youth Leaders towards consolidation of democracy and transformation of Conflict were organized each in Ghorahi, Pokhara and Baglung for journalists, political leaders, and student and youth leaders of Rapti, Gandaki and Dhaulagari zone respectively. The main issues highlighted in the discussion for political leaders and youth leaders were Scientific Mindedness in Politics; Democratic Values, Constitutionalism and Human Rights; Inclusive Democracy; Role of Political Parties and Leadership in Peace Building, and Dynamics of Conflict and its Transformation.
During the programmes, resource persons highlighted the need of critical mindedness and various aspects of scientific propositions. They emphasized on critical and open mindedness to see the present hierarchical model of youth organization and political parties and added that the participants can play active role and take initiative to make institution more democratic and participatory. They presented the present conflict situation and reasons behind the present state of the conflict. Highlighting on the different characteristics of conflict, they attempted to bring clarity on the conceptual aspects of Conflict Dynamics. Conflict can only be transformed once a clear picture of the nature and causative factors of conflicts are identified, they suggested. They emphasized on the need of collective efforts of all stakeholders to resolve political instability and problem of exclusion.
Presenting the paper entitled Inclusive Democracy, they argued that the principal question of inclusive democracy is: how increasingly greater number of citizens can participate in social, political and economic activities of nation as equal, active and dignified member of society? Four components of inclusive democracy: political, social, economic and ecological was proposed to address the present situation of exclusion.
During the programme, pros and cons of the violent conflict was expressed from human rights perspective. Resource persons urged that the government mechanism should be restructured and the Constitution should be reframed to ensure devolution of power to the local authorities, ensuring Economic, Social and Cultural rights as fundamental rights, review in the present electoral system and transformative action to protect rights of minorities and marginalized people.
Almost all participants actively participated in the discussion. During the programmes, a critical analysis of the performance of democracy over the last fifteen years was carried out, and intensely discussed. The conflict was seen in the light of the performance of the democracy, and attempt was made to relate the need of transformation of the conflict for sustainability of democracy and vice versa. At the end of each programme, participants were asked to comment on the achievements of the programme. All of them appreciated the programme and expressed high-levels of satisfaction. They agreed that the country’s future is secured only in democracy and expressed their commitment to working to promote democracy and peace building in their community and through their work. Majority of them expressed that the transformation of the conflict was impossible without prompt action to equitable distribution of the national resources. They fully agreed with the resource persons for reforming the present system to make it inclusive in nature ensuring the participation and involvement of all sectors of the Nepalese society. Assistant Professor of KSL Mr. Khagendra Prasai and Prakash KC and advocate Mr. Kumar Sharma Acharya acted as resource persons on programme locally arranged by Community Legal Research Center, Banke on 16th and 17th November, 2005. Similarly, Mr. Prasai and Assistant Professor Mr. Hongkong Rana acted as resource persons in Pokhara on 1st and 2nd December, 2005 which was locally arranged by NGO Federation, Western Regional Resource Centre while Mr. Balkrishna Dhakal joined Mr. Prasai as resource persons at Baglung programme organised on 5th and 6th December, 2005 and locally arranged by NGO Federation, Baglung District Unit.
A separate programme was organized for Journalists in the said date in which resource persons highlighted on the performance of media in the contemporary situation, ethics and social responsibility of journalist, International Principles of Journalism, role of media in conflict transformation and peace building as a pro-peace Fourth Estate and humanitarian obligations put forwarded by different media conferences and the responsibilities they should bear in the extra-ordinary situation currently Nepal is facing. During the programme, they were oriented on the importance of democracy for press freedom and vice-versa and the methods for peace-friendly reporting and description of conflict in a solution-friendly way. The participants discussed on the papers and made various comments over the presentations. They admitted that programmes of these kinds would enhance their skill in reporting, enable them to be more conscious in pro-peace information dissemination and be socially responsible to play greater role the society and the nation have expected from them. They expressed that they realized their great role in bringing warring parties to the negotiating table and their responsibility to promote democracy, constitutionalism, rule of law, good governance and sustainable peace in the country. Journalist Ghamaraaj Luitel and Pradeep Pathak from KSL acted as resource persons at Ghorahi and Baglung programme while journalist duo Raghu Mainali and Kiran Pokhrel joined Mr. Pathak as resource person in Pokhara.
|Kathmandu School of
Law / Telephone
Dadhikot, Bhaktapur / Fax : 977-01-634801
Kathmandu, Nepal / E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Web : www.ksl.edu.np