Media for Sustainable peace and Human Rights (2002-2003)

Media for Sustainable peace and Human Rights (2002-2003)

Highlight of this programme: The program was new and a first experience in Nepal. People had fear to involve in social activities at the time of armed conflict. When people got the training on Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Women and Children rights, they became empowered about their rights and committed to involve in community work.

Details of the Programme:

The Project “Media for Sustainable Peace and Human Rights” was successfully completed in one year across 22 wards within 2 Municipalities in Dang Districts with the support of UNDP. When IHRICON originally put forward the proposal to UNDP it was presented as only a module programme. The programme was not only related to communication, it was also related to Human Rights.

IHRICON believed that after the peaceful resolution of the long conflict, the petrified remnants of the war created many barriers which were in the way of the reconstruction process and they therefore led a paralysis and prevented the development of social harmony. A continuous effort by civil society is always required in order to achieve and then maintain sustainable peace where society works hard to respect all human values. It was IHRICON’s view again that the media provides a strong means for getting this message communicated and that it plays a vital role during the peace negotiations and social reconstruction process. IHRICON strongly believed that the media can stand as a human rights watchdog as well as supporter of the peace process itself.

This project entitled “Media for Sustainable Peace and Human Rights” aimed at finding ways and means to explore the root causes of the conflict, conflict prevention, methods of peace making. It was also an opportunity for recalling the commitments made during the Beijing Declaration and the platform for Action as well as those commitments contained in the 23rd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Women 2000:Gender Equity, Development and Peace for the 21st Century”. As part of this programme IHRICON was planning to encourage women to participate in all stages of the peace process and these would include planning, implementation and monitoring of the “Media for sustainable Peace and Human Rights” mission.

The peace efforts undertaken at that time created many important opportunities for dialogue, organisation and action on a range of human rights issues. It was the view of IHRICON and others that these types of activities ultimately advance the struggle for human rights in countries like Nepal (i.e. those where there has been major suffering due to internal conflicts). Peace and human rights groups shared these goals of establishing a stable environment within which human dignity and fundamental freedoms are respected.

Even within Nepal (a country known for many years as one of the most peaceful places in the world), had people who were victimized as a result of the internal conflict which was started by the Maoists Party during the Peoples’ War in 1996.. Both the Maoist Party and the Government had overlooked the peace and the human rights condition which existed within the country. During the conflict more than 8000 people had lost their lives, hundreds of people have disappeared, and thousands of people have been displaced.

Whilst all people in the country were adversely affected by the conflict the conditions suffered by women and children was by far and away the worst. The Maoist Party killed their political opponents and the police personnel and this also took place vice versa. The police killed many members of the rebel forces (all of whom were fighting in the name of the People’s War) under the excuse of maintaining law and order. The Maoist Party indoctrinated the orphans of the rebels to avenge the deaths of their parents, in order to maintain their militant capacity. The Government was unable to reach out to the orphans to prevent what was happening to this very vulnerable group. They were also not able to provide them with the support that a state should provide to its people. In such a situation it was found that the children grow up far too quickly, they end up picking up weapons  and then following the orders of the Maoist Party. Several children also lost their normal childhood because they had to replace the usual breadwinners in the family as they had been lost to the family due to the conflict. Some of these people who previously lead their families were dead but many also had to move to new surrounding in fearing of the terror and the violence. The children of the fallen police personnel also faced uncertain futures because a death in the family changed the socio-economic situation of their households in particular where the deceased person was the sole earner.

Realizing that such terrible situations were present in Nepal IHRICON developed a model of a town where human rights were applied in the most effective way and where sustainable peace was created in the presence of an active Media. It showed how the community were utilizing all kinds of conflict prevention methods, conflict management techniques and following an active peace building process.

Set out below are the specific objectives of the programme:

  • To launch the first stage of a nationwide programme starting with the model town by exploring a variety of techniques and approaches,
  • To develop an example of how national commitment to human rights, education, conflict management and non violence can be created by existing initiatives of media and civil society,
  • To build the culture of tolerance, respects for human rights through regular dialogue and consultation at a local level with a special reference to key Armed Conflict affected areas.
  • To develop and implement sets of comprehensive human rights education material, methodologies at the local level and prepare the ground for utilizing them in a national movement for peace culture and development.
  • To strengthen the role of the media as a peace volunteer and a conflict management mediator.