In the Field
Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative
IPJ Team Joins The Carter Center’s Election Observation Mission in Nepal
From November 11 to 25, Interim Director Dee Aker and Program Officer Chris Groth joined The Carter Center’s International Election Observation Mission as Short-Term Observers (STO) for Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elections. Following two days of training on election preparation and security issues, 66 Carter Center observers from 31 countries were deployed to 31 districts across the country to observe voting. The observers visited 336 polling centers on election day and 31 counting centers following the elections. Both Aker and Groth were deployed to the Terai region of southern Nepal, with Aker in Bardiya District and Groth in Kapilvastu District. Aker previously served as an STO with The Carter Center for Nepal’s 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.
The Carter Center has released a Preliminary Statement and a Post-Election Statement regarding the election. A full report will be published in early 2014. Aker and Groth will be discussing their election observation experiences during an event to be held at the IPJ on February 6, 2014.
IPJ Nepal Spotlight – 2012 Woman PeaceMaker Radha Paudel
On International Youth Day (August 12), IPJ Woman PeaceMaker Radha Paudel was presented with the Youth Talent Award by Khil Raj Regmi, the Chairman of the Interim Election Government of Nepal, for her years of social service work in the health sector in Nepal. Paudel was a 2012 N-Peace Awardee, and the organization has written an article and produced a short documentary film profiling her work in the rural Karnali region of Nepal.
IPJ Team Members Serve as Judges for National Youth Debate Program
IPJ Interim Director Dee Aker and Lilia Velasquez, a practicing attorney and law professor who joined the IPJ’s field mission to Nepal in May 2013, served as judges for the final round in the grade 10-12 category of the nationwide youth debate competition, “Nepal’s Top 7 Debaters,” produced by Today’s Youth Asia. The final round debate topic was “Is peace possible without justice?” and the program aired June 14 on national television and radio via Nepal Television Plus. Footage from all Today’s Youth Asia programs, including the youth debate competition, can be found online at the TYA Channel.
IPJ Field Mission – Charikot, Kathmandu and Sauraha
From May 3 to 22, Interim Director Dee Aker and Nepal Program Officer Chris Groth traveled to Kathmandu and Dolakha and Chitwan Districts as part of the IPJ’s Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative. The IPJ team was joined by Lilia Velasquez, a practicing attorney and law professor with international experience working on human rights and human trafficking issues.
The IPJ partnered with Today’s Youth Asia (TYA) to conduct negotiation skills trainings in Charikot with community leaders from civil society and political parties. In Kathmandu, the IPJ and TYA held a special program for members of Nepal’s legal community including practicing attorneys, law professors and law school students. Topics included challenges in and approaches to 1) corruption and politicization in the legal community; 2) fledgling rule of law; 3) mentoring of young lawyers and becoming established in the legal community; and 4) media advocacy skills.
While in Kathmandu, the IPJ partnered with Sano Paila to hold a roundtable discussion on forced labor trafficking with journalists from four major news outlets in Nepal. Led by Velasquez, the IPJ team shared approaches to educating the community about this crisis in Nepal and techniques used internationally in the effort to combat human trafficking. Following the roundtable, the IPJ team met with some of the youth who have been rescued as a result of a project led by Sano Paila (see activities in April 2013).
The IPJ also partnered with Women for Peace and Democracy – Nepal to hold two workshops with women leaders. In Kathmandu, women from 10 different political parties gathered with Aker and Velasquez to discuss methods of collaborating across party lines, increasing their voice and influence within their own political parties, and mentoring of young women political leaders for the future. In Sauraha, rural women leaders from Chitwan, Makwanpur and Sarlahi came together to explore actions that community members can take when tackling common issues, such as domestic violence and discrimination against women, that are impacting Nepali women across all districts.
The IPJ team also met individually with officials from the U.S. Embassy and The Carter Center, as well as with senior officials from Nepal’s security and government sector tasked with election preparations. In addition, Groth continued the IPJ’s outreach to youth with a roundtable discussion with students from TYA, and he and TYA President Santosh Shah discussed the peace process and the IPJ’s ongoing work in Nepal during radio interviews in Kathmandu and Dolakha.
IPJ Country Partner Spotlight – Sano Paila
The efforts of IPJ country partner Sano Paila to combat forced labor trafficking of children and young adults was featured in a recent piece by the CNN Freedom Project. The Thulo Paila project, launched by Sano Paila in January 2013 in partnership with the UK-based NGO Freedom Matters, is designed to rescue and rehabilitate Nepali youth who have been trafficked domestically and internationally, primarily to India, for forced labor purposes.
Rotary International (Encinitas, CA)
On February 27, Nepal Program Officer Chris Groth gave a presentation to the Encinitas Rotary Club, entitled “Communications for Peacebuilding – Engaging Civil Society, Security Sector and Political Leaders in Nepal.” Groth spoke about the IPJ’s ongoing peacebuilding efforts in Nepal, focusing specifically on the “whole community approach” of bringing together a wide range of participants in order to facilitate dialogue and encourage greater collaboration.
IPJ WorldLink Youth Town Meeting
Santosh Shah, Founder and President of Today’s Youth Asia (TYA), spoke at the 16th Annual WorldLink Youth Town Meeting. While in San Diego, Shah also conducted several roundtable interactions with students at local high schools and was interviewed by Roger Hedgecock for a segment on U-T TV. The IPJ has collaborated with Shah and his colleagues at TYA on peacebuilding programs in Nepal since 2005, making it the IPJ’s longest serving country partner.