Nepal-Overview

Civil society in Nepal has burgeoned since the end of monarchical rule. An active and diverse civil society plays advocacy and accountability roles, as well as service delivery roles. It asserts the rights of excluded groups and has pushed issues of exclusion up the political agenda. Civil society also played an active role in the movement that saw democracy restored in 2008, and in responding to the devastating earthquake of 2015. Public officials sometimes express negative attitudes towards civil society, but recent cooperation on the process of developing a new constitution and responding to the earthquake suggests that relations with the state have become more constructive. However, dialogue remains at the behest of the state, with a lack of regular, structured forums for engagement, something that must be a concern, given Nepal’s frequent changes of government. Corruption and impunity persist, in a polarised polity where considerations of caste, class and identity remain predominant; concern about corruption and state inefficiency was heightened by the inadequacy of official earthquake response. The use of torture in police custody remains a challenge, as does the fact that the fundamental civil society freedoms set out in the Constitution do not apply to non-citizens, estimated at four million people.