Kathmandu, November 26, 2007 — The Asia Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to Asia’s development since 1954, and The McConnell Foundation are entering a new phase of a program to provide community mediation services across 12 districts in Nepal, a country coming out of a decade of insurgent rebellion. The absence of effective courts and the breakdown of traditional methods of dispute resolution in Nepal’s communities have led to a distinct need for new mechanisms of village-based conflict management. The new two-year project will build upon previous Asia Foundation mediation efforts in Nepal funded by McConnell and other donors.
Since 2002, The Asia Foundation has been working in Nepal to train and certify long-term mediation service providers who are skilled at finding solutions acceptable to all parties involved in a dispute. Because of these efforts, communities across Nepal are beginning to experience quick, inexpensive, and effective resolution of disputes, an improvement in social and family relations, and improvements in social justice. This has been achieved in the face of significant shifts in village society and the effects of ten years of guerilla insurgency.
“Mediation is a far more viable option for most Nepalis than taking a dispute to court, which is expensive and contentious,” says Nick Langton, The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Nepal. “While litigation results in losers, the win-win possibilities of mediation are more suited to village communities. Establishing mediation services throughout Nepal will take many years, and The McConnell Foundation’s willingness to make a long-term commitment to the program is an important contribution to this process.”
With renewed funding from The McConnell Foundation, The Asia Foundation will expand its efforts. These efforts include increasing community and government support for mediation services, strengthening mediator competency, mobilizing community members as catalysts for peaceful interaction and ongoing community dialogue, and conducting research to deepen understanding of Nepali approaches to community mediation and social harmony.
The Asia Foundation will partner with five local NGOs in Nepal to implement project activities: the Center for Legal Research and Resource Development; the Forum for Protection of Public Interest; the Institute for Governance and Democracy; Service to Underprivileged Sectors of Society; and the Rural Women’s Unity and Development Center.