International Support for Peace and Democracy in Nepal
This project was part of the Country Working Group (LAG) of the postgraduate course. It used Nepal as an example to demonstrate possibilities and limitations of international support in post-conflict countries. The aim was to identify key elements to promote stability and long-term democracy successfully but also to determine factors of failure in order to draw lessons for other fragile states.
The practice of international engagement in many countries demonstrates that the simultaneous promotion of stability and democracy in post-conflict settings often comes with several dilemmas: Involving as many conflicting parties in a peace process as possible can paralyse state institutions and restrict their ability to act; establishing greater state authority and securing the monopoly of violence in contested regions can elicit renewed dynamics of conflict; elections can cause new outbursts of violence; and external powers can pursue security interest alongside their declared development objectives that run counter to the strengthening or creation of legitimate state structures.
The task is not made easier by the fact that international engagement in fragile contexts is usually a multi-donor endeavour involving a plethora of development agencies and other actors. At the same time, many evaluations of development support to statebuilding and peacebuilding have highlighted the importance of effective donor coordination and a coherent joint approach across policy areas.
The research project analysed possibilities and limitations of international coordination and cooperation in support for statebuilding and peacebuilding in post-conflict Nepal. Depending on the perspective, the country’s political process following the 2006 peace agreement can be considered relatively successful (democratisation, inclusion of the former Maoist rebels in the political system, elections) or precarious and uncertain (no agreement on a new constitution yet, pressure during elections, unstable government). International actors were actively involved in supporting Nepal’s post-conflict process and tried to make a difference. The project aimed at identifying factors of success or failure and draw lessons both for Nepal and for other cases of international engagement.