Constitution of Nepal
The Constitution of Nepal (2015) marked a major achievement for the country’s peaceful transition to democracy following the civil war between 1996 and 2006. The Constitution introduces a competitive multi-party democratic system, civic freedom, fundamental rights, human rights, periodic elections, voting rights, full freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary. It provides a vision of a prosperous nation, built on principles of socialism, the rule of law, democratic values, durable peace, good governance and sustainable development. Articles 18.2 and 51.j (7) of the Constitution contain provisions for youth rights relating to participation and empowerment in Nepal, as well as protections from discrimination. The Constitution of Nepal provides a progressive example of an inclusive constitution that addresses historical inequalities and creates a vision for a sustainable and prosperous future. It is also a useful example for countries with large youth populations transitioning to democracy following a period of conflict. Due to the above and its full respect for the Future Justice Principles (7/7), the Constitution of Nepal is recognized with Future Policy Silver Award 2019 for Political Participation and Civil Engagement of Youth, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with UNDP and ILO.
- Nepal has entered into the new political era with the promulgation of the constitution of Nepal in 2015. In doing so, It has formally ended feudalistic, autocratic, centralized and unitary system of governance, and established a people centered democratic republic federal state. People of Nepal have become the ultimate sovereign power of the nation.
- The Constitution aims to serve the will of the people and therefore all Nepali citizens are both stakeholders and beneficiaries. The key beneficiaries of articles 18.2 and 51.j (7) for the purpose of evaluation are young people. The Constitution clearly aims to include minorities that have been historically marginalized in Nepal.
- The constitution expresses commitment to create the bases of socialism by adopting democratic norms and values, including peoples’ competitive multi-party democratic governance system, civil liberty, fundamental rights, human rights, adult franchise, periodic elections, complete press freedom and an independent, impartial and competent judiciary, and the concept of rule of law.
Constitution of Nepal, 2015
The Right to Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act, 2075 (2018)
The Act Relating to Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2074 (2017)
The Act Relating to Compulsory and Free Education, 2075 (2018)
The Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act, 2075 (2018)
The Privacy Act, 2075 (2018)
The Right to Housing Act, 2075 (2018)
The Public Health service Act, 2075 (2018)
Administration of Justice Act, 2073 (2016)
The Right to Employment Act, 2075 (2018)
The Social Security Act, 2075 (2018)
The Act Relating to Children, 2075 (2018)
The Crime Victim Protection Act, 2075 (2018).
The Constitution of Nepal shows how policy built on the principles of socialism, the rule of law, democratic values, durable peace, good governance and sustainable development can provide a vision for a prosperous nation. The Constitution introduces a competitive multi-party democratic system, civic freedom, fundamental rights, human rights, periodic elections, voting rights, full freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary. It specifically contains provisions for youth rights relating to participation and empowerment in Nepal, as well as protections from discrimination.
In 2015, Nepal entered the new political era with the decleration of The Constitution of Nepal. It stands as a useful example for countries with large youth populations transitioning to democracy following a period of conflict. Due to the above and its full respect for the Future Justice Principles (7/7), the Constitution of Nepal is recognized with Future Policy Silver Award 2019 for Political Participation and Civil Engagement of Youth.
- Our “Best Policies” are those that meet the Future Just Lawmaking Principles and recognise the interconnected challenges we face today. The goal of principled policy work is to ensure that important universal standards of sustainability and equity, human rights and freedoms, and respect for the environment are taken into account. It also helps to increase policy coherence between different sectors.
- Provides right to a clean environment.
- Provides social and economic rights.
- Promotes sustainable development.
- Provides for National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission.
- Provides social and economic rights.
- Provides social security and poverty alleviation measures.
- Provides the right to a clean environment.
- Provides the right to health care.
- Provides economic, social, & cultural inclusion of young people.
- Public consultation during the drafting stage of the Constitution.
- The Constitution provides special opportunities for young people in educational, health and employment sectors through supporting their all-round development.
- Provides the right to information.
- Provides for judicial review by the Supreme Court and the Commission for the Investigation Against Abuse of Authority.
- Provides for: National Human Rights Commission, National Women’s Commission, National Inclusion Commission, Dalits Commission, Adibasi Janajati Commission, Madheshi Commission, Tharu Commission, Muslim Commission, Language Commission. It does not include a youth commission.
- The National Youth Council plays a key role in policy development and inter-ministerial coordination.
- Provides for a federal government system and the distribution of state power.
- Youth have been integrated into the National Planning Commission.
- The National Youth Council coordinates youth mainstreaming.
- The Constitution aims to end all forms of discrimination and oppression created by the feudal, autocratic, centralized system.
- The fundamental rights section addresses historical inequalities related to numerous marginalized groups in Nepal.
The civil war in Nepal, fought by Maoists against the Nepalese monarchy, ended in 2006 with the Comprehensive Peace Accord. The decade long war had left 17,000 people dead and effectively halted Nepal’s economic development. Young people were actively involved in the civil war, as well as the democratic protests through 2003-2006, as members of the youth wings in political parties, by directly fighting the state army as soldiers, organizing and participating in street protests, and canvasing public support against the monarchy. Young people were also victims of the conflict, encountering human rights abuse, sexual abuse and acts of violence.
The Comprehensive Peace Accord (2006), and the Interim Constitution (2007), mandated the interim government, to adopt a constitution that abolished the centralized state structures and introduce a federal system. Importantly, the Interim Constitution included a clause for the Constituent Assembly to “pursue a special policy of mobilizing young people for the development of the country.” Key to the Constitution drafting process was undertaking a participatory process whereby thematic committees were tasked with conducting wide public engagement to seek direct inputs from citizens. Alongside the Constituent Assembly engagement strategies, civil society and donor funded NGOs undertook public engagement on the contents of the Constitution, as well as seeking submissions from marginalized groups such as women, Dalits, indigenous people, Madhesis and young people. The youth voter turnout for Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly shows that young people were active in the election process. In total, 51% of the voters in Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly elections were under 35 years of age. The two Constituent Assemblies encountered political deadlock and were unable to agree to a draft constitution. It was the earthquakes in April and May 2015 that triggered the political parties to reach consensus. The Constitution passed with broad political support in the Constituent Assembly. Of the 598 members, 507 voted for the new constitution, 25 voted against, and 66 abstained in the vote on September 16, 2015.
For the purpose of evaluating the Constitution from a youth development perspective, it includes articles on youth rights, pertaining to economic, social, cultural and political participation. It calls for the creation of opportunities relating to education, health and employment for enhancing youth development and empowerment. Article 51.j (7) directs the state to pursue policies that advance youth participation and empowerment. Article 18.3 provides for the right to equality.
Since the promulgation of the Interim Constitution and the Constitution of Nepal (2015), a suite of youth policies and institutional developments have taken place in Nepal aimed at enhancing youth participation in government and society. At the broader level, timely implementation of the Constitution is the current focus of the Government, and issues containing broad consultation with the public on new laws has been noted as problematic.
- National Youth Policy 2015: The NYP was approved on 6 October 2015. It provides a national strategy for empowering young people and identifying policy actions areas and establishes monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The impact of the Nepal Constitution on the 2015 NYP can be clearly seen in the section relating to the rational for the youth policy.
- National Youth Council (2015): The National Youth Council (NYC) was launched as an independent and autonomous council with the task of coordinating, and implementing youth related programmes in partnership with government, non-government and private sectors. The National Youth Council Act 2072 promulgates the coordination of youth related programmes for youth development and mobilization via the National Youth Council, under the Ministry of Youth and Sport. The NYC Youth Portal is developing youth related data and statistics related to the five pillars to track the progress of the Youth Vision 2025; according to the NYC, this will be completed in August 2019.
- Youth Vision – 2025 and Ten-Year Strategic Plan (2015): The ten-year strategy was developed by the NYC, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The key action areas relate to education, employment, health, social security, leadership, development and sports and recreation. The NYC is responsible for the implementation of the strategy.
- Nepal’s 14th Development Plan (2017-2017/2018/2019): The plan includes a section on youth development and highlights the role young people play as partners and contributors to socio-economic development and sustainable peace. For the fiscal year 2016-2017, it states that the Government has set a youth specific target of 50,000 young people to be self-employed every year via the Youth Self-Employment Programme.
It does not appear that the articles relating to youth development in the Constitution have received significant international recognition. The Constitution of Nepal can provide a useful model for countries with a youth bulge, that are currently transitioning to democracy following a period of conflict.
Constitute Project, Nepal’s Constitution of 2015 with Amendments through 2016, 2019
Government of Nepal. Youth Vision – 2025 And Ten-Year strategic Plan, 2015
National Youth Council of Nepal. About Us, 2018
Snellinger, A. From (Violent) Protest to Policy: Rearticulating authority through the National Youth Policy in post-war Nepal, 2019
Sunam, R and Goutam, K. The rise of Maoists in Nepali politics: from ‘people’s war’ to democratic politics. East Asia Forum, 2013
The Diplomat, Nepal’s New Constitution: 65 Years in the Making, 2015
UNDP, Nepal Youth Strategy 2018-2022, 2018