Enabling ‘business as usual’: Donors and Peacebuilding in Nepal Post 2006
Political culture, corruption, the feudal state and other specifically ‘Nepali’ characteristics form key cornerstones of analyses examining the return to traditionalist politics in post-2006 Nepal. The reassertion of the political right has been expressed not least in the 2015 Constitution, the intransigence of the political elites in response to the Madhesi uprisings, the glaring lack of accountability with respect to relief and reconstruction following the earthquakes and the ignoring of the constitutional provisions on inclusion by non-other than the Judicial Council headed by the chief justice while nominating 80 judges for the high courts.
Obscured in such accounts, however, is the role of international development actors and the international development agenda – as deployed during the Maoist’s 10-year civil war, and as deployed for peacebuilding – in reinforcing status-quoist politics. By first briefly discussing how international development agencies framed ‘the Maoist conflict’ to carry on with ‘business as usual,’ this paper argues that the naming and framing of the conflict and “post-conflict” by these actors has promoted the idea that mainstream development was, and is, the panacea to political problems. Apart from ignoring the complexities and contradictions of post-war state-building and development in Nepal, it has also contributed to the creation of an enabling environment for a return to conservatism and of conservative forces. The paper includes analyses of prominent donor frameworks post-2006, including the Nepal Peace and Development Strategy 2010-2015, and portrayals of Nepal’s transition to peace. Concluding remarks point to the manner in which ‘development’ is often portrayed as a solution, whereas in fact the discourse/rhetoric and practice of development is imbricated in the restructuring of the elite-centred post 2006 Nepali state.