On 23 February a joint statement entitled “Recasting Justice (2009): Securing Dalit Rights in Nepal’s New Constitution” with key recommendations to the chair of the drafting committee of Nepal’s new constitution, was presented by New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ), Dalit NGO Federation (DNF) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN).
The statement outlines that in order to secure Dalit rights in the new constitution, it must directly address Dalit issues in a number of different areas central to the constitution. It includes direct references to articles, which should be included if concerns for the welfare of Dalits in Nepal is to be reflected in the new constitution.
The statement concludes stressing that, “Nepal is legally obligated to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Dalits. Meeting this obligation will greatly increase Nepal’s ability to maintain a sustainable peace and to achieve effective political, economic, and social development; for too long Nepal has been deprived of Dalit contributions and voices. A new constitution that affirms Nepal’s international human rights obligations can and must serve as the foundation for this crucial endeavour.”
After meeting with representatives of the DNF, the Chairman of the committee of Minority and Marginalised rights protection, Lalbabu Pandit, and the Chairman of the Fundamental Rights and State Policy Committee, Bindha Pande, have already committed to including Dalit issues in the new constitution through their committees.
This is an encouraging start and IDSN, CHRGJ and DNF will continue to distribute and discuss the joint statement with relevant parties including the UN and the EU, and spread the message that securing Dalit rights should have a central place at the heart of the new constitution of Nepal.