Much like the political environment, my internship has undergone some changes since I arrived here. The original plan was that I would be working on implementing provisions of the new constitution. The main area of focus for me was supposed to be on implementing the parts of the constitution that were meant to address past discrimination and promote social inclusion of formerly marginalized groups. This plan changed the day before I started work. The new constitution was expected to be drafted on May 27, and I started work on May 28. Once the agreement of the new constitution failed the original plan for my internship went with it.
Ultimately this has made my internship extremely interesting as I have had the opportunity to see firt hand all of the developments that are occurring as everyone tries to figure out where to go from here. I have been able to sit in a number of meetings with various party leaders, interest groups, and international organizations as they all try to make a plan for moving forward and getting the constitution writing process started again. IDEA's role in all of this has been mainly as a facilitator by hosting many of these meetings. The primary topic of most of these meets has been discussing strategies for moving forward and trying to get the constitution writing process started again.
The change in circumstances created by the failure of the Constuent Assembly has also created a number of interesting opportunties for me to contribute to IDEA's mission. The majority of my work so far has been focused on social inclusion issues. My first report was a comparative study on social inclusion issues in Nepal comparing the attempts to overcome discrimination here with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the elimination of apartheid in South Africa. The focus of this report was on how constitutional provisions and government policies can be used to help cure some of the ills that are caused by years of discrimination. My research taught me a lot about just how complex the system of discrimination is in Nepal and how difficult it is going to be to overcome that past. I am also encouraged by my findings that Nepal has already taken a number of progressive steps toward outlawing discrimination in virtually any form and making social inclusion a key focal point of the new constitution and government policies.
Currently, I have just started working on a report doing a comparative study with stalled constitution writing processes in other countries to try to develop ideas on how to get the process restarted in Nepal. In the coming weeks, I wil also be working on another study trying to define the structural relationship between Nepal's president and prime minister.
The initial news that the Constituent Assembly had failed to produce a draft constitution was disappointing, but ultimately it has made for a very interesting internship so far. I am sure that I will have the opportunity to explore many more interesting topics in the future and I look forward to updating you about them.