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Rita Manchanda

Edited by Sebastian Einsiedel , David Malone and Suman Pradhan
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 398, Rs. 495.00

By Mahendra Man Singh
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 278, Rs. 795.00


‘Insider’ Accounts Nepal in Transition: From Peoples War to Fragile Peace straddles two choices—pulling in the writings of influential scholars who have politically explained the Maoist insurgency—Mahendra Lawoti (academic), Deepak Thapa (social scientist) and Devendra Raj Panday, (policy maker and civil society leader), Roderick Chalmers (International Crisis Group), as well as focusing on the theme of external peacemaking in Nepal and pulling in the writings of some key practitioners—Ian Martin (UNMIN), Teresa Whitfield (Centre on International Cooperation and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue),  Jorg Frieden (Swiss Coop Office, UNMIN Nepal), Friedrick Rawski (International Commission of Jurists, Nepal), S.D. Muni (Professor, Special Envoy) and of course the three editors—Einsiedel (political affairs UNMIN), Malone (Ambassador, IDRC head) and Pradhan (UN political officer).   In the midst of what Nepali commentator C.K. Lal pejoratively described as Nepal’s ‘conflict tourism season’ with a crowd of bilateral donors not least India, international conflict resolution think tanks and experts (practitioners and scholars), Nepal became host to one of the largest UN human rights field monitoring operation in the world, and the setting up of a UN Mission (2006–2011) with an unusual and circumscribed mandate, to manage the arms and armed personnel of Nepal’s two undefeated armed parties and undertake election observation for the Constituent Assembly.  The book aims at reviewing the role of external peacemaking and culling out lessons for other transitions, but these stakeholders in internationalizing peace processes instead of critically unpacking the assumptions of the global conflict resolution template, seek to ‘fit’ Nepal’s Maoist insurgency in the social movement-conflict resolution discourses. In place of problematizing the value structure of external peacemaking, these essays baldly assert the need for greater internationalization. Panday’s warning is elided about Nepal’s legacy of failed development in creating the context of insurgency , that is , the role of external donors in imposing donor driven agendas, reinforcing Nepal’s horizontal equality and strengthening the exclusionary ‘native power structure’.  Whitfield in analysing the multiple actors involved in Nepal’s Masala Peacemaking—in encouraging dialogue, introducing expertise gleaned from other peace processes and other support activities—regrets that none of the external actors came to fill a role of formal facilitation or still less mediation  but functioned more on ‘an entrepreneurial basis rather than in response to a clear invitation’ in Nepal’s progression towards the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2006). As a result, despite the existence of ...

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