23 July 2008The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has been extended for another six months to allow the mission to complete its monitoring and management of the arms and personnel of the Nepal army and the former Maoist combatants from the civil war. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has been extended for another six months to allow the mission to complete its monitoring and management of the arms and personnel of the Nepal army and the former Maoist combatants from the civil war. In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Security Council renewed the mandate of the mission through 23 January next year and called on Nepal’s political parties to support the peace process so that UNMIN can wrap up its work soon. The resolution, which follows a request from Nepal and a similar recommendation from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his most recent report on the issue, noted that it also endorsed Mr. Ban’s proposals “for a phased, gradual, drawdown and withdrawal of UNMIN staff, including arms monitors.” UNMIN was set up at the start of last year to help Nepal, which endured a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace deal in 2006 and conducted Constituent Assembly elections. Those polls were held earlier this year and in May the newly formed Constituent Assembly voted in favour of a federal democratic republic. The king of Nepal then left the palace and earlier this week the Assembly elected Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first President. The mission is also responsible for monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of both the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army, as well as in assisting in monitoring ceasefire arrangements. Speaking to journalists today, the head of UNMIN and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ian Martin said many significant challenges remained before the peace process can be considered to be completed. “There are still two armies in Nepal, and the core task that is requested of a downsized UNMIN is to continue its monitoring of the management of arms and armies while durable solutions are sought to the future of the former combatants,” he said. Nepal’s interim constitution provides for a special committee to supervise, rehabilitate and integrate the Maoist combatants, but it only met once before the elections and made no progress. Since then the committee has been re-formed on an all-party basis, rather than just those parties in the new government. Continued cooperation between all political parties, including those representing the Madhesi community, a group that was traditionally marginalized in Nepal, is important to complete the peace process, Mr. Martin stressed. “The biggest challenge of all, perhaps, is to reach agreement within the prescribed two-year period on the federal constitution. Virtually all the political groups are agreed that the new constitution should be a federal one, but there is as yet no agreement as to what form federalism should take in the particular geographic and social conditions of Nepal.” Mr. Martin cited numerous other challenges, including the desire of marginalized groups for greater representation in such State bodies as the security forces, and the previous commitments made to victims of the civil war and associated violence about the investigation of crimes, compensation and an end to impunity for perpetrators of attacks.