Friday, March 26, 2010

Drafting the Nepalese Constitution

The drafting of new constitutions and the ultimate shape they take can yield global lessons. The most arresting recent example of this is perhaps the 1996 South African Constitution's constitutionalization of socio-economic rights which has catalyzed a wide-ranging debate within comparative constitutional law.

It is slightly surprising then that the drafting of the Nepalese Constitution has not figured more prominently in public discussions in India and around the world. I was, therefore, thrilled to read Menaka Guruswamy's recent article in the Economic and Political Weekly on the subject. The article wonderfully explicates the complexities underlying the process, and raises questions that post-conflict societies are likely, at some stage, to confront.

Abstract:
Integration of the Army and New Constitutionalism in Nepal
Constitution-making is a process involving a contested terrain and this is reflected in Nepal’s political situation today, particularly on the question of integration of rebel combatants into the army and its “democratisation”. It is important for Nepal’s political parties and forces to leave aside their past mistrust and come together to reach an equitable settlement while integrating combatants. Political foresight is also needed to appreciate that democratisation of all institutions, including the army, is imperative for creating the new constitutional democracy that is Nepal.
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