Statebuilding and Peacebuilding in Nepal, 1990-2012: Anatomy of a Democratic Transition




Dahal, Shiva Hari

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The paradigm of liberal peacebuilding has dominated the discourse in the field since the early 1990s. The liberal peace theory is grounded in the notion of democratic liberalism that advances the arguments that liberal democracies are the preferred system of governance that advances principles of “democratic peace.” Such a notion dictates how international powers function as well as international institutions, including the United Nations, which targets states in the global South for interventions. However, the liberal peace paradigm that removes the locals from the politics has come under criticism for the lack of participation, legitimacy and ownership of local actors in the political and peace processes. The criticisms of liberal peace signify vacuums in the field of peacebuilding within which the concept of statebuilding is evolving as a complementary entity. Related to this, efforts are being made to explore the integration of these two concepts, although they have different traditions. However, this researcher explores probable interaction of the concepts. When the concepts of statebuilding and peacebuilding are understood as interacting, the tendency is for inclusion—not exclusion—of groups, which might otherwise derail the political processes. For this reason, the integrated processes tend to work, while processes in which the two are seen as unrelated, the tendency towards exclusion of groups may lead towards the end of the processes. The focus of this research is on the dynamics of statebuilding and peacebuilding by exploring the case study of Nepal, a country currently transitioning from violence towards the construction of an inclusive and democratic state. The discourse of the liberal peace paradigm dominates the interventions of statebuilding and peacebuilding in Nepal. So, the researcher explores the impact of liberal peacebuilding by looking at the (1) denial of participation in the decision making process, and (2) foreign interventions that have caused the failure of negotiation and the collapse of the Constituent Assembly in May 2012. The research findings confirm that the denial of participation of the political actors, including competing ethnic identities, in the decision making of the political and peace processes coupled with foreign interventions, led to the collapse of the processes, making this a far worse problem than either would have been in isolation. While doing so, this researcher explores practical and empirical propositions on the interactive nature of statebuilding and peacebuilding mediated by the theoretical frameworks that lean towards inclusion, not exclusion.