Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Conference Format

As the purpose of getting outside experts in is to contribute to the Constitution, the organizers want the experts to engage directly with the draft constitution. As such, both Nepali and English versions of the comprehensive text of the draft Constitution of Nepal will be timely made available to all participating Nepali and international experts for their reference, and each of the experts will be asked to prepare their comments and recommendations for improvement on the draft in areas of his/her expertise and interest, before the conference starts. Some of the experts with such comments and recommendation will be requested to present their papers in the Conference to stimulate discussion.

In case, the Constitutent Assembly of Nepal is not able to deliver a draft constitution according to the current schedule, as expected by the organizing committee, the participants will still be provided with the preliminary drafts of all thematic committees at the Constituent Assembly in lieu of a consolidated complete draft to go through the process as highlighted above. All comments and recommendations including the papers received will be submitted to the Constituent Assembly for its consideration after the Conference.

As of November 25, seven major reports contributing to the draft constitution are already made public by the following thematic committees of the Constituent Assembly, which will more or less form the basis for the new constitution, subject to the approval/change by the full House of the Assembly. The Committees which have already produced the reports (which includes concept and preliminary draft) are the following:

(1) Committee on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
(2) Committee on Protection of Fundamental Rights of Minority and Marginalezed Communities
(3) Committee on Judicial System
(4) Committee on Determination of the structure of Constitutional Bodies
(5) Committee on Determination of Bases for Cultural and Social Solidarity
(6) Committee on the Preservation of National Interest
(7) Committee on the form of legislative organ
(8) Committee on Division of Natural Resources, Financial Powers and Revenues
(9) Constitutional Committee (to cover issues not to be covered by other Committees)

Two reports are still on the pipeline. They are expected from:

(10) Committee on Determination of the Form of Government

(11) Committee on State restructuring and Distribution of State Powers (It works for the federalization/devolution of powers)

The Constitutional Committee is the principal drafting committee in the Constituent Assembly, which will have to organise all reports cleared by the full house into a viable constitutional draft. But then, as stated above, it is also responsible for preamble and other issues that are not covered by the thematic committees.

On the first day of the conference introductory events will be organized for familiarization and information exchange of views amongst participants, including international experts, CA members, political actors, civil society leaders and other stakeholders.

For two days, extensive and intensive group interactions will be organized and deliberations and discussions on the key constitutional issues materialized and recorded. On the sideline, special sessions and meetings of selected international experts with key leaders of major political parties and CA members will be arranged to enable political actors clarify key issues of concern through independent and highly qualified and experienced scholars of global prominence with familiarity of Nepal and its special features.

Prominent constitutional experts and practitioners from developed and developing countries, including Asia and Pacific regions with experiences of post-conflict dynamics and challenges will assemble to share comparative experiences and provide their inputs. Amongst the invited experts will be those with expertise in different aspects of federalism, forms of governance, human rights, electoral process, judiciary, etc as well.

Under the overall theme of the conference, following five major sub-themes will be categorized for streamlining the whole exercises:

• Salient features and basic constitutional principles of the new Constitution
• System of governance and institutional framework (including electoral process)
• Restructuring of State and devolution of power under the federal design
• Social justice and justice delivery mechanism
• Human rights and accountability institutions (including political parties)

The overall deliberations in the conference will have gender and social inclusion used as cross-current issues in order to ensure that the new Constitution is gender and diversity friendly.

After the conference: After the conference a team of national experts will help -

• revise the draft constitutional text

• develop explanatory notes

• keep in touch with the international experts, who contributed to the conference, and take their inputs where necessary

• submit the revised draft to the CA Constitutional Committee

• share the revised draft with all political parties represented at the CA

• respond to necessary queries coming from the constitution makers on the draft thereby submitted

• involve the constitutional experts even in the post-submission phase for their contribution

• publish the proceedings and necessary notes after the promulgation of the new constitution

Conference report and documents will also be archived on the internet for future reference while implementing and interpreting the new Constitution.

The organizing committee is expecting the graceful presence of President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Chairman of the CA at the event.

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