The UN Mission in Nepal-UNMIN’s Humiliating Withdrawal


Bishnu Pathak, PhD – TRANSCEND Media Service

The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was in­vited after a series of formal and informal agreements and under­standings signed by both parties, the CPN (Maoist) and the then Government of Nepal (GoN) to accomplish the peace process. On August 9, 2006, the Mao­ists and the GoN sent a 5-point joint letter to the UN Secretary General to establish the UNMIN with provisions to continue human rights monitoring. The letter asked to assist in the moni­toring of the truce, managing arms and armed personnel on both sides – the Maoist Army (MA) and the Nepal Army (NA) – deploying qualified ci­vilian personnel. It also requested for technical support and observation of elections to the Constituent Assembly to be held in April 2008.

1.      Functions

The Agreement on Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies (December 8, 2006) formally invited UN to (i) guarantee the fundamental rights of the Nepali people to take part in the CA in a free and fair environment without fear; (ii) to ensure sovereignty for the Nepali people in the form of a progressive political outlet, a democratically  restructured  state, and social-economic-cultural transformation; and (iii) to fully observe the terms of the bilateral agreement witnessed by the United Nations; and (iv) to seek UN assistance in monitoring the management of the arms and armies of both sides.

The UNMIN started its work with the assistance of UNDP, UNICEF and Interim Task Force from January 2007 for an initial period of one year. The UN political mission was deployed in Nepal with a strength of 200 interna­tional civilians, 337 local civilians, 72 military observers and volunteers. The task was not completed by the stipu­lated date and the Government of Ne­pal extended its tenure six times.

The UNMIN obtained a final four-month extension effective from September 16, 2010.  The UNSC Resolution on September 16, 2010 decided in line with the request from the Government of Nepal that UNMIN’s mandate will terminate on January 15, 2011. This is the departure extension of the UNMIN. The UNMIN initiated its activities from January 23, 2007 for a year and ended in three years, 11 months and three weeks. The Nepal Government extended UNMIN’s tenure for six-month three-time on January 23, 2008, July 24, 2008 and January 24, 2009. Nine months and three weeks were allocated for its fifth-time extension of its tenure on July 24, 2009. The sixth and seventh times extensions had been on May 15, 2010 and September 16, 2010.

The UNMIN deployed observers at the 7 main and 21 satellite canton­ments following the 10-point Com­prehensive Peace Accord (CPA) on November 21, 2006 and the AMMAA. The UN personnel confined both the Maoist and Nepal­ese Army personnel and their weap­ons to the cantonments and barracks respectively and their weapons were not used against each other.

The UNMIN registered 32,250 Maoist Army personnel and only 19,602 (61% out of 32,250) were veri­fied comprising 15,756 (80%) men and 3,846 (20%) women from all canton­ments. Some 3,475 weapons from both armies were stored in iron containers. The MA were first disarmed and de­mobilized. A total of 8,640 (27%) MA personnel were disqualified as they did not appear in the verification in­terviews. A total of 4,008 persons were disqualified including 2,973 (74%) mi­nors (below 18-years till May 25, 2006). The rest were recruited after May 25, the day of the ceasefire. Among 4,008, only 61% (2,394) attended during the disqualified/discharged 40-day work-plan from December 17, 2009 to January 25, 2010.

2.      Criticism

The UNMIN’s criticism started before its establishment. First, since the 12-point understanding signed in New Delhi on November 22, 2005, the Indian establishment tried hard to in­fluence the Maoist party. India infor­mally proposed to cover all financial costs of the MA and technical coop­eration for their professional training. However, the Maoists refused this.

Second, the Maoist party had been demanding for neutral media­tion, mainly from the UN since its Peace Talks II in August 2003. India was irritated as the Maoists and the Government of Nepal had formally invited the UN.

Third, India and its ally had great hopes that the Maoists would be wiped out in the Constituent As­sembly elections. The anti-Maoist newspapers had conducted information warfare against the Maoists, writing that only 15 to 20 CA members from the Maoists shall be elected in the first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections.

Fourth, the Maoists became the largest party, winning 50% seats from 240 constituencies in the FPTP. However, the Nepali Congress (NC) won 37 seats and the CPN (UML) just 33 seats in the FPTP despite the alleged financial, moral, technical and strategic support from India. Now, the Maoists represent 40%, NC 19% and UML 18% out of a total 598 seats in the CA.

Fifth, the Maoists became the larg­est party in CA and led the first DR of Nepal. While the Maoist-led government resigned because of confrontation with the Nepalese Army, Madhav Nepal of the CPN (UML) succeeded to replace him. Nepal was defeated in two constitu­encies in the CA elections. The coalition said that UNMIN is biased and has been support­ing the Maoists to stay for a longer period in Nepal. This may have been partially right. However, the criti­cism was promoted by India. A Switzerland-based Transcend Me­dia Service on ‘Who is Prime Minister Mad­hav Kumar Nepal?’ in “Nepal’s Peace Process towards Ambiguity” dated May 10, 2010, wrote “Madhav Nepal has long been tapped by Indian power and poli­tics before 1990.”(See’s-peace-process-towards-ambiguity/).

Sixth, the NA denied attending the JMCC meeting headed by the UN­MIN at the end of its tenure. The NA leadership chose the wrong NC-UML partners at the wrong time under the backing of India and polluted its neu­tral image.

3.      Conclusion

The UNMIN obtained a final four-month extension effective from September 16, 2010 till January 15, 2011. The UNMIN ended its role ow­ing to heavy criticism from non-Mao­ist parties and returned from Nepal. It withdrew leaving reintegration, rehabilitation and democratization half-way, unlike many other UN missions in the world.

Besides Nepal, eight political missions are working in the world. They are: UNTSO in the Middle East (May 29, 1948- ); the UNMO­GIP in Jammu-Kashmir (January 1948- ); the UNSCO in the Middle East (June 1994- ); the BONUCA in the CAR (December 31, 2001- ); and the UNAMA in Afghanistan (March 28, 2002- ). Similarly, UNAMI in Iraq (August 14, 2003- ), the UNIOSIL in Sierra Leone (August 31, 2005- ); and the BINUB in Burundi (January 1, 2007-) have been established by the UN Security Council.

A Special Committee (SC) has re­placed the UNMIN and implements its mandate against provisional ethics. The UNMIN was established under Nepal’s special circumstances. It was a neutral and common platform while the SC mostly comprises political ac­tors on the basis of a political decision. The role of the SC is neither defined by agreements and accords, nor does it have constitutional authority. There is also no role for neutral experts. In­deed, the humiliating withdrawal of the UNMIN has officially led to the closure of the Maoist Army canton­ment and barracking of the Nepalese Army, even though both forces obey the peace process’s disciplines.


Mr. Pathak, who holds a Ph.D. in Conflict and Human Rights, has been working at the Peace and Conflict Studies Center, (PCS Center, formally known as Conflict Study Center or CS Center) as a Director. He is a Convener of South Asia: TRANSCEND International and Board Member of TRANSCEND Peace University. His book Politics of People’s War and Human Rights in Nepal is a widely circulated volume. He is the author of a number of publications on human rights, UN, security, peace, and federalism including Nepal’s 2008 Constituent Assembly Elections: Converting Bullets to Ballots, brought out by the East-West Center Bulletin, Washington and Approaches to Peacebuilding with peace-conflict lifecycle in “Experiments with Peace” in October 2010, Oslo.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Mar 2011.

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5 Responses to “The UN Mission in Nepal-UNMIN’s Humiliating Withdrawal”

  1. Satoshi says:

    While the world’s eyes are preoccupied with Japan’s earthquake and its nuclear disaster and the war in Libya, Dr. Pathak’s report this week is very important. It should never be overlooked.

    Thank you very much for preparing this precious report! Please keep on watching the on-going events in Nepal, Dr. Pathak!

    And thank you, Editor of TMS, for publishing this noteworthy report (while the world this week is focusing almost exclusively on Japan and Libya, as mentioned)! This is how TMS should be. This is how TMS proves its value.

  2. Dear Santoshi;

    Thank you so much indeed. These all are volunteer efforts to liberate the people from the shackle of poverty (widening gap between rich and poor) and insecurity for the sake of peace and justice. As Nepal’s issue has always been a shadow owing to sandwiched between two emerging super powers, we tried hard to recognize Nepal a sovereign state.

  3. Dear Bishnu,

    United Nations Missions achieve nothing in all countries of the world. I’ve known people running them in various countries so I know what I’m talking about. All those involved in UN missions, forget that the UN Organisation was created, to allow all countries of the world to practice abuse of Human Rights and have endless armed conflicts on behalf of Russia and USA and boost their economies, at the same time as that of their competitors (UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, China, Israel, Brazil, Sweden, etc)

    Every time I read you I want to cry. I have the impression that you live on another planet, never reading the News of the World. You talk of Nepal as if Nepal was the only victim, when there are at least 40 countries in the world with far more poverty, suffering, hunger, disease and violence than Nepal.

    Human Rights are constantly abused in all European countries, as well as North America, so, what makes you think that in the developing world they should be respected?

    Do you know the 30 basic Articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I advise you to re-study them WELL. To see how the articles are regularly abused the world over. Furthermore, analyse them deeply and you will see how each and every article was drawn-up in a way that allows them all to be infringed, abused.

    If you really want to help Nepal, my advice is: Forget about UN !!!!! never ask the support of organisations that exist thanks to “blood money”. Without wars and the weapon business, “HOW” could the thousands of UN employees have their salaries paid ???? without wars that cause populations to flee from the town or country they live in, “HOW” could we pay ther salaries of those working in the UN High Commission for Refugees? “HOW and WHY” can we justify spending millions on the UN High Commission for Human Rights, without abusing those Rights in the first place?

    Model your country on morality and respect for Human life, on Justice and equality for all, on love between all its citizens. NOT on UN laws, all of them utterly “useless” in a world dominated and controlled by weapons.

    Best wishes,

    Alberto (Masterclasses)

  4. Sa(n)toshi says:

    Dear Dr. Pathak,

    You say, “As Nepal’s issue has always been a shadow owing to sandwiched between two emerging super powers…” I understand how you (and your people) feel.

    One of the roles of the international community (through the presence of the UN mission in the field, various international NGOs’ missions, international mass-media, many Internet websites including this TMS, etc.) is to send those people who feel isolated and/or who are facing various kinds of “violence – direct, structural, cultural and/or other kinds -” the message (in words or in any other forms) from the international community that you (your people) are not alone and that the international community is watching your situation, even if the international community may not be able to give you an immediate assistance or solution.

    Dr. Pathak, you are doing an outstanding job! Please keep on doing like this. Namaste.

  5. Thank you so much Sa(n)toshijee indeed. My next article shall be “Insecurity in Security” or something like that which shall first publish from Pakistan first in South Asia Magazine, and possible from TMS. We hopefully seek peace within the culture of violence. Two decade ago, Nepal had a culture of silence.