Länderbericht Nepal 2015Discussion with representatives from the political arena and civil society in Kathmandu in August: Dr. Matthias Hartwig, Max Planck Institute and Dr. Bipin Adhikari, Dean of the Kathmandu University School of Law (front side, left to right)

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

A historic success was achieved in Nepal in September 2015. The second Constituent Assembly managed to adopt a new Constitution with a large majority. The different political forces had been attempting since 2008 to create a democratic state and establish lasting peace after the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal had been dissolved and the ten-year civil war had been ended. This was a laborious process accompanied by unrest. The announcement of the Constitution is however not the end here, since central provisions, such as the border demarcation of the seven provinces – are not sufficiently clearly defined, and some groups within the population consider themselves to have been discriminated against. The implementation of the Constitution will therefore be highly relevant to legal development moving forward.

Overall concept

The IRZ has been advising Nepalese partners from the judicial field since 2012. The preliminary work carried out by a German expert on constitutional law in Nepal in the spring of 2014 paved the way for an advice project on the process of constitutional legislation which has been carried out since 2014 with funding from the Federal Foreign Office and will continue until 2016. The project activities are carried out in coordination with the German Embassy in the country.

Foci of activity in 2015

The horrific earthquake in April 2015 and subsequent aftershocks delayed the implementation of the project. Since however the Constituentive Assembly stepped up its efforts to advance the political will-building process in the wake of the natural disaster, it was possible to address the further need for advice quickly.

Expert discussions were thus held in August with constitutional law experts in Kathmandu. In addition to the members of the Constituentive Assembly, judges and lawyers also took part in the discussions, as did representatives of parties, colleges, the media and human rights groups.

Particular interest in the discussions attached to the topics of a federal state structure, and there in particular to the delimitation of competences and fiscal autonomy, as well as criteria for the demarcation of the provincial borders. Furthermore, there was a discussion of the structure of fundamental rights, secularism, independent constitutional courts, inclusion of ethnic minorities and the law on nationality. These discussions enabled the debate that was conducted on the constitutional provisions and their values to be expanded by the foreign experience and to intensively discuss proposed solutions for topical issues, thus contributing an international perspective in a politically important phase.

The secondment of experts on constitutional law and federalism in November 2015 focused on urgent questions related to the implementation of the Constitution. These discussions concentrated on the establishment of federal structures with the competent parties since these need to be created from scratch. The discussions with Parliamentarians related to new statutory provisions since, all in all, more than 300 new laws have to be drawn up or old ones reformed.

Discussions were held with representatives from the judiciary and the Government as to how the commissions that have been formed for this were to be able to implement the constitutional provisions and how the challenges placed on the court system are to be regarded. The exchange with the IRZ experts enabled the cooperation partners to analyse the German experience and that of other countries in their own legal as well as cultural context, and to jointly develop suitable steps for their implementation.

Outlook

The project will be continued in the first quarter of 2016 by analysing specific focal topics put forward by the Nepalese partners in greater detail. The IRZ intends to continue to make a contribution towards the implementation of the Constitution in Nepal, and to this end will define future project contents with selected partners.