Thursday, February 01, 2007

Reintegration of IDPs, Transitional Justice and Gender Issues in the Post-Conflict Situation

Shiva Dhungana

A talk programme was hosted by Friends for Peace (FFP), a research and resource centre working towards facilitating research and dialogue in the filed of conflict transformation and peace building in Nepal, on 23 January 2007 in Kathmandu. The talk programme was entitled Reintegration of IDPs, Transitional Justice and Gender Issues in the Post-Conflict Situation. The main speakers of the programme were Prof Ranabir Samaddar, Director of Calcutta Research Group (CRG), Dr Paula Banarjee and Dr Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, members of Calcutta Research Group. The programme was chaired by Mr Laxman Prasad Aryal, FFP Chairperson and Coordinator of Interim Constitution Drafting Committee and Former Justice of Supreme Court and moderated by Mr D B Gurung, Executive Director of FFP. The programme was attended by around 40 people representing various sections of civil society, academics, NGO and INGO representatives, human rights activists and researchers.
Prof Samaddar introduced the Calcutta Research Group and its activities. He spoke on the issue of reintegration of IDPs with special reference to the recently concluded research project “Voices of IDPs in South Asia”. He mentioned that the IDPs form the invisible populations of South Asia as they are not visible in the eyes of policy makers. He also highlighted the issues and challenges of IDP reintegration in a society where the society itself is not integrated. He also emphasized that the rights of IDPs in the transitional phase should be ensured otherwise the conflict can resurface again as happened in Sri Lanka. He suggested that a durable peace could be attained through intensive discussion among many layers of society not just by top leaders.
Similarly, Dr Basu Ray Chaudhury spoke on the various aspects of transitional justice and its relevance in a conflict-ridden society like Nepal. He also highlighted the importance of reintegration and reconciliation in post conflict situation, where bitterness between the victims and their perpetrators in the conflict days could increase in the transition period. He suggested that the return of peace with justice to the people is a necessity for durable peace. He also said that the narrowing of differences through dialogue could make transitional justice effective
Dr Paula Banerjee spoke of the plight of women, children and other marginalized population of the society. She said that women were specially targeted by the warring parties and they were always at the front to face the consequences of the conflict. She claimed that most of the burdens were heaped on women's shoulders during the conflict. She emphasized that women's voices should be heard while transforming conflict into durable peace in most conflict situations.
FFP chairperson Mr Laxman P Aryal said that the reintegration of IDPs is important in Nepal at this juncture of political development and the proposed Truth Commission will address these problems soon.
The presentations were followed by an intensive discussion focusing on IDPs, Bhutanese refugees and various issues related to transitional justice and gender issues with special reference to the conflict in Nepal.

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