As a Nepali with long association with the UN and UNICEF, I am ashamed and embarrassed that even after 3 years, we have not been able to discharge and rehabilitate the nearly 3,000 disqualified combatants.
Last year in December, former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal promised to Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy SRSG for CAAG that all the disqualified combatants would be released and rehabilitated by 28 February 2009. When the Special Committee was constituted, its first decision was to release them.
Several UN agencies with donor support are prepared to help with rehabilitation of the disqualified combatants, especially the minors or former minors in accordance with well-known international standards.
I would like to request political leaders to release all disqualified combatants immediately from their current cantonments to temporary holding centres where they will receive counseling and vocational training before they return to their communities. Now, on the integration of the ex-combatants, I suggest the following action points.
First, in order not to create undue expectation that large numbers of combatants are going to be integrated into the NA, there is a need to explain to the combatants that the actual number of combatants who are likely to be integrated will be rather small. This is something that I believe only the UCPN-M can do effectively.
Second, explain to the ex-combatants that in the process of integration, some groups that have been historically marginalized and under-represented in the NA are likely to be given preference over others, in the larger national interest of Nepal.
Third, explain to the ex-combatants, what other options are available under the rehabilitation component-from jobs as teachers, health workers, pre-school monitors, foresters, to various vocational training for self-employment and foreign employment. Then only proceed with the vetting process for the integration component, so the expectations are manageable.
To determine eligibility for possible integration, assign the Technical Committee, or possibly a sub-committee, to undertake this task. Let them first determine who might be eligible for possible integration, who meet the required standard norms for recruitment into the various branches of Nepal’s security services.
Second, ascertain from among them who would choose to join which security service, if given a choice. This must be an independent individual choice, not a choice made for the combatants by their commanders or some party officials.
Third, in determining eligibility, care should be taken to exclude Maoist combatants and officers known to have committed serious human rights violations.
negotiations among the parties, agree on some priority groups for integration into Nepal’s security services on the basis of the need to make Nepal’s security services more inclusive of the diversity of Nepal’s population.
Women, Dalits, Madheshis and other groups historically under-represented in Nepal’s security would fall in this priority group. As part of affirmative action, special arrangements could be made to provide a “bridging training” for combatants from such background who meet certain minimum standards, but not quite the normal standard norms of various security services.
Among the Maoist combatants who are eligible and opt for recruitment into the Nepal Army or Police or Armed Police Force, provide special opportunity for integration for up to 2000 women combatants. According to UN Security Council resolution 1325, the UN is actively encouraging the deployment of more women officers in its peace-keeping missions. Nepal could make a very valuable and mutually beneficial contribution to world peace by having a dedicated contingent of women soldiers or police officers. And it would be good for Nepal’s security services to be more gender-balanced and gender sensitive.
For the remaining women Maoist combatants, organize special training as community health workers, pre-school monitors, primary school teachers, or women development officers – with guaranteed employment – based on their qualifications and interest.
Among the remaining male Maoist combatants who meet the minimum required qualifications, arrange for the recruitment and professional training, of up to 2000 ex-combatants primarily from among communities that are currently under-represented in the Nepal Army, APF or police force (e.g. Madheshis, Dalits, etc.).
For a small number of Maoist officers, who have not joined the political process or taken up other civilian jobs, and who have basic officer-level qualifications, arrange for a specialized officers’ training partly in Nepal and partly at well recognized institutions abroad. Part of this training should be joint with other NA or police officers to ensure a sense of camaraderie and bonding as officers of a non-political professional security force.
(Gautam is a former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations)
Source: The Himalayan Times