Promotion of Indigenous Peoples' Rights in the Constitution Making and State-reform Process in Nepal

The project aims to support meaningful consultation and participation of indigenous peoples’ organizations in the constitution-making process, and to strengthen the capacity of key policy making institutions to integrate ILO Convention No. 169 in the state-reform process. Nepal ratified Convention No. 169 in September 2007, only the second country in Asia and the Pacific Region.

Background and justification

Indigenous people in Nepal, known as the adivasi janajati, constitute about 40 per cent of the total population. However, the adivasi janajati have faced marginalisation during the modern history of Nepal such that their representation and participation in state structures has been far from reflective of their statistical representation. In the political field, many state structures and processes either formally or in practice exclude or marginalise the adivasi janajati.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in November 2006 some progress has been made. For example, Nepal’s Three Year Interim Plan (TYIP) places emphasis on the promotion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Of particular importance, in September 2007 the Government of Nepal ratified the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (Convention 169). This ratification provides an opportunity for the Government and indigenous peoples to enter into a dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of indigenous peoples as members of the State of Nepal. Two key challenges to this process are promoting the ability of:

  • Indigenous peoples to participate meaningfully in the Constituent Assembly process; and
  • The Government to reform state structures and policies so that they respect and promote indigenous rights.

This project intends to address these challenges by, in the short term, providing opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to engage with members of the Government; and, in the long term, contributing to the building of an environment that is conducive to ongoing improvements in Indigenous political participation through both structural and policy reforms.

Programme approach and strategies

Within the field of ILO Convention 169, the project aims to address five main rights areas: (1) land, natural resources and traditional occupations; (2) equality in employment; (3) right to and mechanisms for consultation; (4) participation in governance; and (5) cultural and linguistic rights.

The project will operate at a local and a national level. At the local level, communities will be assisted to prepare video documentation of their demands. Lawyers will be provided to assist in translating aspirations into terms that will be appropriate for submission as legal propositions for the new constitution. Community meetings with the local administration and political representatives will explore possible practical approaches to the issues identified. All local processes will be documented and case will be integrated into the constitution-making process at the national level.

At the national level, the project will support a series of awareness-raising and capacity-building activities. The project will provide material, training and awareness-raising to legislators and also develop the capacity of indigenous organisations to participate in the constitution-making process.

Target groups

The target groups of the project are:

  • Key government officials and decision-makers;
  • Members of the CA (especially indigenous Members);
  • Indigenous organisations/councils and communities, especially from the highly marginalised and endangered communities; and
  • Media and indigenous and non-indigenous civil-society representatives at the national level, including national women’s organisations.

Outcomes

Generally speaking, the project intends to secure the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples in the constitution-making and state-reform process in Nepal. This will be achieved by supporting meaningful consultation and participation of indigenous councils and communities and by supporting capacity-building of key policy-making institutions. More specifically, the main program outputs will be:

  • Participatory video documentation and development of propositions that allow Indigenous communities to present their issues to legislators in the Constitutional Assembly (CA);
  • Consultative processes between CA members and indigenous communities on key issues (e.g. land and natural resources, governance structures, employment, education and cultural rights);
  • Awareness-raising, training and capacity building on Convention 169 for CA legislators and Indigenous councils;
  • Enhanced coordination among government institutions and agencies on indigenous issues;
  • Strengthened mechanisms for government consultants with Indigenous Peoples at various levels of governance;
  • Supported establishment of inclusive and comprehensive mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights;
  • Provision of technical support to the review and reform of existing legislation, policies and programs to ensure compliance with Convention 169; and
  • Capacity-development of government institutions, NDFIN (National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities), NEFIN (Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities), NIWF and other stakeholders facilitated for the successful implementation of Convention 169.

Institutional framework

The key implementing partners for this project will be the Ministry of Local Development, Task Force on the Implementation of ILO Convention 169, related ministries, National Federation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), Lawyer's Association for the Human Rights of Indigenous People (LAHURNIP), and other relevant Indigenous Peoples’ organisations.

The Ministry of Local Development (MoLD) and the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) share the responsibility of oversight and implementation of Convention 169. Whereas the MoLD is the focal ministry for the Convention and coordinates action between the Government ministries, NFDIN is a specialised foundation that provides advice to ministries as well as targeted development programs. NFDIN has been granted an increase in funding under the TYIP.

The high-level Task Force, formed in February 2008 with the MoLD Secretary as chairman, is located under the MoLD and includes representatives from all the relevant ministries as well as indigenous representatives from NFDIN, NEFIN as well as individual indigenous experts. The ILO is an observer within the Task Force.

For further information please contact:

International Labour Organization (ILO)
P.O. Box 8971, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977 1 5555777
Fax: +977 1 5531332
Email

Further information

Indigenous and tribal peoples

Translations of Convention No. 169