The Second People’s Movement, the nearing end of the 1996-2006 internal conflict and the prospect of the Constituent Assembly election created hope and expectation for real change in Nepal. Through its promising text, the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord of Nepal (CPA) contributed to these hopes, suggesting that inclusive and substantive socio-economic transformation could be within reach. However, more than twelve years on from its conclusion, the CPA is often regarded as a half-fulfilled promise. In this paper I examine different legal facets of the reception and ‘translation’ of the CPA into Nepal’s post-conflict legal order with the objective of contributing to explanations provided for the unfulfillment (or, only partial fulfilment) of the expectations risen by the 2006 events mentioned above.
The paper will start discussing the ‘nature and legal status’ of the CPA, demonstrating – through the analysis of key informant interviews – its similarity to law-politics threshold concepts such as the state of exception. After the conclusion of a peace agreement the state re-asserts its sovereignty through, among other initiatives, re-establishing its monopolistic domain over law and law-making. This is exemplified, for instance, by the dismissal of all parallel Maoist structures – including the legal ones – following Art 10.1 of the CPA. However, complexity might get lost in translation when documents that do not easily fit into positive legal categories – such as peace agreements – are interpreted through the positivist-minded state legal machinery. To illustrate this claim, the paper will provide a reading of the key Supreme Court case Liladhar Bhandari and Others v. Government of Nepal and Others (2009). The last section of the paper will bring into the analysis the concept of liberal peace and its prioritisation in the peace process, and will interrogate the effectiveness of legal change not supported (or only partially supported) by change in power relations.
The analysis presented in this paper is to be situated within my doctoral research on law and peace agreements. Please see https://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff118858.php