Nepal – Technology and Democracy

Long before the developments in Nepal in 2006, which I’ve written about here, I wrote about possible ways in which technology could help the nascent strengthen peaceful processes of democratic reform against the arbitary diktat of a mis-guided monarchy. I ended my observations with the following:

As ever, while the theoretical discussions on the art of the possible can be conducted ad infinitum, time is running out on the ground. With no direction and support, the process of democratisation may die along with, quite literally, many of its chief proponents and architects, if urgent and sincere support is not given as soon as possible to shore up support for peace in the long haul. If Nepal’s hopes reside in the resilience of its people to conflict, promoting the work of social change makers and activists and the strengthening a rights based approach to democratisation and peace, marrying the principles of justice with reconciliation, needs to take place in concurrence with local, regional and international support mechanisms for the spectrum of actors entering into non-violent dialogue to envision Nepal’s future.

Care however must be taken that all such initiatives are owned and driven locally – given the complex textures foreign interventions in the country and perception of donor aid and its interplays with internal politics – stakeholders in Nepal need to feel fully involved and part of any support mechanism for peace and democracy. Such mechanisms must not also be used as entrees to destabilise marked relationships within or between certain key groups for self-gain or in support of larger plans drawn up against terrorism. Eschewing such destructive blueprints, initiatives in support of the aspirations of the Nepali people need to be taken in a manner that is, among other important factors, are:

  • accountable and transparent
  • supportive of local peace initiatives
  • complements existing interventions
  • augment local capacities for conflict transformation
  • sensitive to local cultures, caste, geo-political terrain and identity groups
  • founded upon a rights based framework
  • pays special heed to issues of gender and the (re)negotiation of gender roles in conflict (there is reportedly a high percentage of female armed cadres in the Maoist movement)
  • supports the creation of new voices from youth and the diaspora in support of progressive reforms in the country

The confluence of such voices, acting in concert and in a sustained manner, may help the country achieve, in time, the peace that continues to elude the author’s own country.

The full report, now a tad dated in its contextualisation of the Nepali conflict, can be downloaded from here and offers ideas and frameworks that are applicable elsewhere in the world when using technology to strengthen democracy and build peace.

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