Statement by Hon'ble Padam Lal Bishwakarma, Chairman of International Relations and Human Rights Committee of Legislative Parliament and member of the Nepali delegation to Durban Review Conference, Geneva April 23, 2009

Statement by Hon'ble Padam Lal Bishwakarma, Chairman of International Relations and Human Rights Committee of Legislative Parliament and member of the Nepali delegation to Durban Review Conference, Geneva April 23, 2009.

Mr. President,

In 2001, we endorsed Durban Declaration and Program of Action as the most comprehensive framework to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all of its forms and manifestations. As a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious country, Nepal believes in secularism and recognizes diversity as an asset to national development; we attach great importance to the implementation of the DDPA and the work of this Conference.

Our efforts to the implementation of DDPA are multi-pronged. Nepal has initiated measures for  the implementation of DDPA through establishing and strengthening institutions, improving constitutional and legal frameworks, introducing positive discrimination, strengthening education, fighting poverty, providing social security, securing development, improving  remedies and resources, and strengthening respect for the rule of law and for human rights.

Mr. President,

Nepal is currently making a democratic transition. I feel privileged to share with this august gathering the landmark socio-political transformations that have taken place in my country.  The Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2006, that ended the decade long armed conflict, and the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 reaffirm strong commitment to the respect and protection of human rights and to end all kinds of discrimination based on caste, colour, gender, race, language, religion, national or social origin, wealth, disability, birth or any other status, opinion or faith.

The Government declared Nepal as a State free from untouchability in 2006. The Constitution also guarantees fundamental rights against the practice of untouchability and racism, violation of which constitutes a serious criminal offence punishable by law. Laws prohibiting caste-based discrimination have been strengthened. The provision of right to social justice has been implemented through positive discrimination policy for women, Dalits, indigenous people, Madhesis, oppressed groups, and marginalized communities in all public sector employments, including the Nepal Army, police, civil service and others.  An independent National Inclusion Commission has been recently formed by the Government to further institutionalize the process of inclusion. 

 Mr. President,

The power, status and resource base of the National Human Rights Commission has been enhanced as a constitutional body. Separate independent statutory bodies have been established for the protection of the rights of women and indigenous people.

The National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities established in 2001 has nationwide networks to work for furthering the social, economic and cultural development of Nepal's indigenous Nationalities. It is an important stakeholder in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of development activities at different levels of the State.

Nepal has ratified the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. Special Rapporteur on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples visited Nepal last year at the invitation of the government of Nepal.  A task force comprising of different line ministries of the Government and indigenous organizations has just completed a comprehensive action plan to the implementation of the Convention.

National Dalit Commission has been working to ensure active participation of Dalit people in all spheres of national life.  It is mandated to addressing problem of discrimination against the Dalits and initiating legal and institutional reforms.

A separate Neglected, Suppressed, Dalit Upliftment Committee is at work for more than a decade. Its nationwide network helps to create an enabling condition at grass root levels to political, economic and social empowerment of Dalits and marginalized communities.  

An independent National Commission on Women has been established as a statutory body that works in the areas of empowerment of women, gender mainstreaming and conducts programs to promote and protect women's human rights.

Mr. President,

Every change and transformation is associated with challenges and opportunities. We are no exception to that. We appreciate the goodwill, understanding, support and assistance of our friends and well wishers in the international community for the ongoing peace process and request for an enhanced scale of assistance to establish the lasting peace in the country and institutionalize the democratic republic. I am happy to report that despite divergent political differences, Nepalese leadership has demonstrated the capacity to sit together and hammer out the differences through dialogue. We are committed to take the peace process to a logical conclusion, write a democratic constitution in time, and speed up the process of  socio-economic transformation to establish lasting peace in the country and institutionalize democratic institutions.

Finally, Mr. President, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is a global problem that requires efforts at every level from societal to international, and my delegation expresses its firm commitment to work with all stakeholders and the international community to wipe out the scars of racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations.

I thank you Mr. President.


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