Bishnu Pathak, Ph.D.

Conflict Study Center – Nepal

A. Conceptual Clarity

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)-led Coalition Government constituted a High-Level five-member Special Committee for Army Integration (SCAI) on October 28, 2008 headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautama for integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist ex-combatants into the new National Army. Other members are: Minister for Defense, Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Janardan Sharma, on behalf of the Maoists and Professor Mohammad Habibullah from the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF).

The representative from the Nepali Congress (NC) has not been accepted yet. There has been a heightened debate on the integration from all corners over whether to use the Disarmament Demobilization Reintegration (DDR) or Security Sector Reform (SSR) models of integration. There are several school of thought (Complete, None, Partial) on the integration and rehabilitation of the armies.

First, the Maoists (the coalition leading party in the government, who started and won the battle to oust the traditional king and aged-old unitary state and declare Nepal a federal democratic republic) urged for the integration of the Maoist “Peoples Liberation Army (PLA),” converting the Nepal Army (formally the Royal Nepal Army)  into a National Army. It is stated in the Interim Constitution that the Council of Ministers shall form a special committee representing mainstream parties in the Constituent Assembly (CA) to supervise, integrate, and rehabilitate the combatants of the Maoist Army.

Second, the Nepali Congress (the main opposition party in the CA) is against integration, but for the rehabilitation and management, of the Maoist army, alleging that the Maoist party has been working against the understanding, agreement, and peace accord.

Third, the MJF (the third coalition partner of the government, representing the Tarai/Madhes) has time and again stated there should be no integration but only management of the Maoist army. It has dozens of times warned of leaving the coalition government if their enlisted demands in the prior agreement signed on February 28, 2008 are not implemented.

Fourth, the UML (the second largest coalition partner in the government) is almost in the middle of the two positions. It has denounced both extreme views and put forward its concept of partial Maoist army integration into the national army.

Fifth, small communist factions have said there should be neither integration nor rehabilitation if the Maoists seek People’s Republic, as the NA is a “bourgeois army”.

Sixth, there is neither any proactive role for integration nor is there any interest shown in rehabilitation by the civil society stalwarts and institutions.

Seventh, the UNMIN wants to extend its role in the integration and rehabilitation process, but it holds the SSR (Security Sector Reform) as a small part of DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration) due to lack of interest in the SSR model.             

Lastly, the security forces, particularly the chief of the Nepal army have been against the integration of the Maoist army consistently, but are ready to accept it if the individual candidates meet the criteria of recruitment. The chief of staff is making many statements in the media standing in favor of international and national forces (who could not speak against the Maoists-led government directly).

However, his role has been passive since the Maoists set up the government. Opposing his statement, Nanda Kishor Pun (alias: Pasang), chief of the Maoist army, said, “We may fail if we are examined by the Nepal army in terms of the existing standard of traditional norms; and they may fail if we examine them.”

The anti-integration forces have failed to notice successful cases of integration between armed groups and state security forces in the world, due to their prejudice or lack of knowledge. This analysis shall therefore try to set forth some  examples of integration between armed groups and government forces.

For Countries emerging from conflict, the integration of ex-belligerents into society and security forces has been a challenging task for all – the concerned nation, friendly neighbors, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the media, and the ex-combatants themselves.

All peace-building processes have a special purpose ‒ from the signing of understandings and agreements to peace accords ‒ to disarm the combatants and government security forces, demilitarize their military or revolutionary character and structure, and reintegrate them into civil life. The DDR and/or SSR processes are parts of the peace process for political change, ensuring justice, social security, and security reform in society.

Armed conflict occurs particularly in developing or underdeveloped countries due to a huge discrepancy between rich and poor, owner and working class, men and women, culture and society, religions, regions, ideologies, and government and people. Over the past 24 years, the integration of security forces and ex-combatants has been designed and evaluated in 38 countries.

These consist of: Two in the Americas ‒ Colombia and Haiti; nine in Asia ‒ Afghanistan, Burma, Aceh (Indonesia), Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka; two in the Middle East ‒ Israel and Palestine; five in Europe ‒ Chechnya, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Northern Ireland; and 20 in Africa ‒ Angola, Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, DR Congo, Congo Rep., CAR, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The DDR and/or SSR programs in Cambodia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, Philippines , South Africa, and Zimbabwe have now been concluded. Moreover, DDR and/or SSR programs are running in Haiti, Afghanistan, Nepal, Angola, Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Liberia, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda . Some examples of post-conflict nations and conducting DDR and/or SSR programs have been given below.




This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Dec 2008.

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