Role of civil society in promotion and protection of democracy
1 ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT Keshav Prasad Bhattarai1. Present Status; Possibilities and AchievementsAfter the Constituent Assembly Election and Nepal being declared a Republic under dubious procedures,Nepals democracy, stability and peace has collected precarious complications. The emergence of NCPMaoist, as the single largest party in Constituent Assembly – also a legislative body, has created anuneasy political psychology in the country. This in course of time, if not managed wisely and tactfully,may create tremendous problems for us in Nepal as well as in our vicinity. No need to say that if wesucceed in managing our house, Nepal is sure to achieve greater success in our national life.Again there is a great question is being raised – what is wrong with us as a Nepali? Each time we bringchange, why we fail to own it and shape it to suit our national interest. Why our democracy commitssuicide again and again. Why our national goal and identity seems so blurred among us? If we considerthe population of Nepal, industrious and heroic nature of its people, extraordinary biodiversity,abundance of natural resources, lively culture, unbroken long history of its people, great neighbors andmost friendly international community firm and committed to our national security, democratic stability,peace and development, we find no reasons for our present situation that has been betraying us as wellas all our friends across our borders.Besides, had these achievements been supported by good governance and fair, honest, morally strongstate with strong willed, visionary and dynamic political leadership and had the country been able to gainconfidence in its political, administrative and social leadership and be proud of them, then Nepal wouldhave achieved great in comparison to any other countries.2. Our Scarcities and TravestiesThe customary character of Nepalese politics couldnt represent its economy, power and capacity as wellas the national scruples that would build up from devotion, toil, enthusiasm and courage. Nepalesecitizens therefore, are deprived of achievement that could be gained through appropriate social,economical, diplomatic effort, commitment and mobilisation of total power and capacity of Nepal.The accountable and popular political system initiated in 1950 has not been able to give Nepal a cleardestination yet. As a result of this citizens poor consciousness, low level of confidence, injustice andrevulsion against authoritarianism from all quarters has created political abuses and vulgarities forimmoral and apolitical power craze. Consequently, even after implementation of development plans forhalf of the century, almost half of the countrys population has not been able to receive stateprotection in favour of basic human welfare and security. Resultantly, our democracy has become the hostage of such situation. We have lost the national willpower in favour of national democracy, development and prosperity. Besides, not only the state policieswere lacking in the effort of countrys economic, social and humanitarian development but even theconcept of civil rights, justice peoples enthusiasm their security of welfare were not incorporated intothose efforts.
2Despite the CA Election and our preparation for new initiatives for a new Nepal if fail to make a strongbid to fight the present situation, infused with unbound but corrupt moral practices and hypocrisy wedeveloped in our personal, social and political norms and practice, there is very little to be satisfiedwith.3. Democracy as Nations Power and LegitimacyNations have secured enormous prosperity, stability and dignity with the great strength and powergained from the peoples freedom, democratization of state and society, ensured availability ofopportunity of justice and equality for all. Trying not to understand this reality and attempting to limit the state authority as a serving tools andmeans of limited few in power positions rather than entrusting citizens rights, dignity and security, thecivic power couldnt be transformed into state power and in result our state system has become so weakand submissive in its goals.The political character pursued by the state determines the basis of state power and capacity. It hasbecome a notion of politics to transform every individuals power into immense state power. If weevaluate main character of politics and its origin, growth, destination, decision and all workingprocedures, this cannot be otherwise but democratic. Undemocratic system of governance means to beboth anti-national and illegitimate.Globalization is the greatest reality of our day. Our future will undoubtedly be more uncertain andpainful if we are not able to tap the opportunities and ensure security it provides to people in all aspectsof their national life. The only option available to us is to face the challenges posed by globalization withthe extensive increase of the capacity of the citizens and the state to create capacity to make bestchoices of the available strategic options.4. Missed Opportunities and Determination for Creating New OpportunityWe have already wasted so much of time, resources and opportunities that now we do not have anythingleft to lose. So, now, achievement only is our option.It is our conviction and belief that by refuting the despair and distress trellis, governing us so long wecan create national vision, values and resolve to exploit our potentialities and build a new nationalidentity. Through the courage of every individual and their group effort, we are sure to regain ourvalour and correct the goal deviation. No doubt we can certainly create pleasant, secured and prosperousNepal within very short period of time through the true effort and commitment from the local level tothe international level because of our national character and vigour.Our problems appear as everlasting and colossal in the absence of national dynamism and appropriatemeasure that can be achieved through the power of democracy and development. But we firmly believethat once the right measure is initiated, these problems deemed impossible to get solved will enter intoa process of solution within certain time frame. Only the people of Nepal can do it by ensuring thefreedom, respect, prosperity, security and dignity of its citizens. That is why the present need is to
3ensure the citizens huge energy and courage for the nations rapid political and social modernisation togive new shape to the nation.5. Democracy and Futile Expectation of a new IncarnationDemocracy doesnt keep waiting for any incarnation for its determination and achieving the goals. EveryNepali should therefore determine such things by themselves. Its beginning can be realised by creatingfair politics, transparency and effectiveness in national life and by creating meaningful and effectiverole of every person, class and group in political practices.Under the participatory political culture, nation can have its goal achieved and created respect andprosperity for itself by establishing everyones access to freedom, equality, justice and security and byinvolving every Nepali in deciding their goals. We are the witness and proof that the politics,development and economy if is not able to establish every ones ownership it does, have no goal andshape.It is our conviction that structural effort should be made for developing qualified and capableleadership among the Nepali citizens and for providing such leadership, we have to build courage to go toany option and opportunities, best available for nation. By this we are sure to uncover tremendousenergy, power and capacity inherent to the Nepali citizens through creating hope, confidence, motivationand determination among them.6. Best Service and Opportunity to the Citizens Makes Democracy best form of GovernanceThe democracy is proved best only from the protection, the best services provision, and opportunitiesavailable to the citizens. The character of democratic leadership is also equally important for this.However, developing every individuals responsibility for achieving best form of democracy, democraticleadership and better service delivery and availability of equal opportunity for all is the most important.Similarly, all the existing oddities in our society are our individual and collective responsibilities.We do not have any option except to assimilate our deep-seated incompetence, despair and passivity intopowerful effort with an effort of high encouragement and commitment. We believe that adequatenational, social and economic power and capacity for achieving peace, development, prosperity, securityand stability can be developed only by linking every Nepali with the success of this effort by developingcontinuous chain of success, encouragement and the optimum level of commitment and by its extensivesocialisation a good democratic order is established. For this, we have also understood the need of civictraining to systematise their demands and expectations through the extensive debate and discussion inthe civil society about the jurisdiction and power of the state and social organisation.7. Democracy as a Best Governance System Human Society has developedOnly democracy gives equal share of the country to everyone. Such an equal share means to ensureeveryones participatory contribution, to provide everyones access to the available resources in thecountry and to establish everyones equal rights in the benefits and achievements gained for thecountry. Only with such arrangements, everyones rights, respect and responsibility can be built uptowards the country and only after these powerful motivations to respect law and be abided by the lawand their appropriate structures can be developed. Otherwise, a state and civic culture to respect thelaw and be abided by it cannot be established and foundation of nation building cannot be set.
4Democracy is excellent system of governance developed by human society. This excellence is provedthrough the system when it becomes a cause of any individuals role and the general citizens can elect acommon citizen as their representative through the legal process and have rights to receive excellentrule from the representative.Democracy is considered to be an excellent system of governance as a result of the citizens unceasingvigilance and commitment.Or democracy, instead of being the supreme rule of supreme individuals, has become supreme as a resultof the system that provides opportunity for ordinary individuals to provide supreme rule.Democracy therefore is not an individual but a system and for developing such system democracy ispowerful and effectively established through appropriate conditions and structures.The world has been on a debate for last 2500 years about democracy. But, like in Nepal, half of theworlds population does not yet enjoy democratic system of governance.According to the United Nations Human Development Report (2002), a survey in 60 countries thatcovered fifty thousands citizens indicated that only less than one third of the people expressed thattheir governments were functioning as per peoples interest. In the same survey, only one out of tenpeople expressed that their governments would respect peoples interest.The above information justifies to what extent democracy has been facing pressure and challenges inthis age too.8. Supreme Governance System along with all Dearth and WantsWe have become witness that only democracy protects right, freedom and respect of every citizendespite considerable dearth pressure and challenges. There cannot be alternative system of governanceto democracy in providing security to the citizens from political, social and economic catastrophes.Similarly, only democracy can accelerate and sustain development. More importantly, only democracythat truly represents all class and group of the society, is the best and the only treatment of all formsof social and political violence, terror and anarchy. Democracy itself is a diagnosis of all forms of wars.Neither violence nor terrors have foundations set in fully democratic society nor there do have anyinstance of warfare between two fully democratic countries. We have an experience that the conflictand violence since their emergence in 1996 in Nepal are entirely off beam and are a part of grandconspiracy against democracy. However, the shortcomings of the efforts of democratic developmenthave given adequate cause to give Maoist present position.Democracy is not only management of governance to secure the citizens right, freedom and respect butit is also a symbol of the rulers right, respect and dignity. In the process of governance, democracykeeps the regime away from cruel and authoritarian measures and ensures states moral power, valourand security.Similarly, democracy develops not only nations economic prosperity but also cultural, moral and socialprosperity.9. Success of Democracy
5Democracy has been successful in some places while unsuccessful in others. Success and failure ofdemocracy in a particular country compared to the other, depends upon whether or not there wereappropriate circumstances to make democracy successful, or whether or not necessary efforts weremade.Democracy is not only the issue of state responsibility but also the political, social and moralresponsibility of the citizens themselves. Therefore every citizen should put an effort for social, political and moral responsibility towardsdemocracy and if the citizens ignore this, democracy would also not take them into its protection. Inthis sense, a comprehensive and extensive state effort is indispensable for protection of all-inclusivenature of democracy. Similarly, we believe that every citizens individual courage and commitment andenthusing and enabling all political, social, professional organisations and trade union to use their rightsand protect every citizens rights to enjoy democracy would ensure moral accountability of group andindividual in favour of democracy.10. Two Pillars of Democracy and their FoundationsWith reference to above, we consider that democracy has mainly two pillars: First, citizens control overand ownership in the states decisions and the decision makers and second, certain level of equalityamong the citizens in such control and ownership. Some norms such as participation, authorization,representation, accountability, transparency, responsiveness and unity are accepted as indivisible forcreation of the above pillars of democracy.We mean that every state and society should create and develop democracy and every state, society andgovernment should have roadmap for development and strengthening of democracy. More or less,constitution and law function towards this direction and moreover, the political parties also keep workingwith the state and government in the form of informal state and government through their statutes andmanifestoes under the nations constitution and legal framework.We mean to say that every citizen should have roadmap of democracy. Every social and professionalorganisation should have it. Thus, all should have prepared civic declaration independently or incollaboration and should have developed a programme on their behalf to strengthen democracy and tomake it effective. On the basis of this, we think that such social and professional organisation must havegiven training to all the citizens and members of their organisations.11. Agendas of DemocracyThe main political problem of Nepal at present is the problem of democratisation of the nation and thesociety. We believe that we have been facing this tragic cycle because political and civil societies havefailed to address these issues of democratisation of our state and society.Therefore, we are convinced that the democratic contents hereafter shall address the following andTrade Union and other professional organisations should express their commitment in these issues.Besides this, our vigour in establishing following mandatory requirements of democratic governancesystem is a must for us and should meet the following:-
61. Requirements of participation • Rights of all citizens to participate in governance • Capacity to build participation and availability of means • Well-managed provisions of medium for participation • Constitutional and legal supremacy • Legitimacy of, and consensus on constitution and law • Scientific and well managed selection system of state officials and state programmes • Effective control system of elected state officials over non-elected officials • Simple and accessible provisions for all thoughts and opinions from all quarters of nation and society be included in the legislature • Explicit system and structures for fulfilling the duty in all political, economic and judicial decisions and all public infrastructures • Assurance of supremacy of judicial administration and non-discrimination in civil service • Sufficient structural provisions for inspection and monitoring of governments public and legislature2. Inclusion • Voters from all social groups to be represented in all public structures • Provisions for all voters and all social groups to have access to government and governmental decisions • State service delivery for all and at all times • All citizen and citizen groups to be unanimously provided with political economic, social, cultural and developmental rights. • Respect to all social and cultural diversities • Education for good citizenship3. Democratization of representation • Certain and effective provision for election of leadership in all state authorities, political parties, civil society associations and professional organisations • Provisions of regular referendum in issues crucial to the nation • Free and fair election system that can secure voters’ dignity and self-esteem to the best • All facilities and provisions necessary to assist in effective performance of elected officials4. Election and representative oriented multiparty system • Legal provisions against all types of discriminations; anti-discriminatory • Positive state policies • Rule of law and order • Isolation, regulation, and stabilisation of rights in state-agencies • Provisions of regular and independent audit, public monitoring, and disciplinary mechanisms in state affairs • Provision of standards that are legally receptive and can be well implemented • Legitimate provisions of powerful parliamentary control and interference5. Provisions of public audit including control and monitoring of state affairs. • Defined approach of public inclusion and participation in all legislative practices through particular procedures and approaches • Easy and secured access of all citizens to communication facilities and right to independent press and information
7 • Open and well-managed processes for creating opportunities and for civil consultation in all issues of public concern • Elected and self-governed local agencies • All state authorities and civil associations must have resources and programmes available to them for civil and human rights education • Adequate legal provisions for guaranteeing international human rights • Powerful and effective presence of established and accountable national and international NGOs and UN structures and in areas of civil rights, welfare and concern. • Effective provisions of civil control over military, police and other security agencies • Provisions for respecting to the best, of civil rights to governance free from corruption12. Blank Pages of History, Group Commitment to Achievement of Goals and State Restructuring.Modern history of Nepal or the Nepalese history of glory, achievement and valour is not yet, written.Without our strong and determined group efforts, the history cannot be written and the blank pagesnot filled up. In writing nations’ history, the presence of citizens cannot be ignored. We are alsodetermined in the belief that the nation’s fate cannot be changed unless everyone’s presence iseffective and meaningful.Every people, group and organisation should bear their accountability to their shortcomings, sufferingsand failure. Whilst citizens are not aware of their rights and accountability, the malady glandsdeveloped in people at the centre of power has made the whole country weak, scrawny and vulnerable.The continuous and brutal assaults by government and power centres against political, social andeconomic structures of security and dignity of Nepalese citizens fundamental right to life has nowtransformed the country in a horrifying museum of human pain and terror.Nepal need not baptize an occasion to decide on a new destination through identifying its limitations andpossibilities and be freed from all castigations, trauma and pain. We assume that state should reorderits priorities and arrange state efforts in a new way, in its favour.Bringing to an end, all procedures, systems and structures that are considered to be the obstacles inachieving and using freedom, justice, dignity and development, we are of the belief that staterestructuring is actually democratically transforming state, society and economics. And it is today’sutmost essence that we actively engage ourselves in this, and express group commitment to achieve ourgoals by identifying phases for our future destination.13. Labour Organisations and Other Professional Organisations and Civil Society Representatives in Establishing, Developing and Strengthening Powerful and Effective DemocracyDemocracy, in its own, is symbolism of citizens supremacy and representative state system, and to anextent it is ends, it is to that effect, a means as well, because it is a medium to people’s maximumwelfare, dignity and security.Democracy, in no instances, been proved to be effectively successful and secured, until citizens’conscious and accountable practices are brought into favour. Therefore, we assume that all existing
8trade union and other professional organisations and civil society provide strong and capableestablishment to democracy by conducting following programmes.1. Works for building popular mandate • Build strong and popular mandate against all forms of authoritarian and arbitrary political system and extreme left and extreme right political ideology and practice. • In situations that we failed to establish democracy in a systematic and structured manner, that were though, not the results of impacts and travesties emerging against democracy but in the name of democracy in the past; and thereby clarifying the reasons before the public, hoist their energy and support in favour of democracy and to bring into end, their biased attitude, despair and distress against democracy.2. Works for commitment building • Urge state structures and political parties to express commitment in favour of civil freedom and democratic rights. • Promote the level of commitment and information of its members regarding democracy and human rights. • Establish and respect democratic process at all levels of public life and practice. • Assist to raise official participation at all elected authorities.3. Reforms in political parties and collaboration in development • Assist for reforms and development of political parties with an objective to make them more reliable, receptive and representative through their improvement and development and avail citizens with the benefits of democracy during collaboration with them. • Build consensus in political improvement and key state policies and work to hold debate and take inclusive decisions in order to establish local rights. • Build social environment for reconciliation, co-existence and conflict transformation and make democracy sustainable and strong. • Hold public debates and discussions regarding the relationship between political parties, civil society, labourer and professional associations and encourage in building helpful environment for political reform.4. Works for participation building • To develop structures and events of democracy by studying and developing study related to discipline and assessment of civil behaviour in election participation. • Assist to bring legislative reforms to establish holistic-inclusive characteristics of democracy and best political practices through dialogue with state and political parties at all levels.14. Need to encourage and make everyone hopefulNepal’s present situation has not been able to inspire, convince and make everyone hopeful. Therefore,we should take leadership that we do not give up hope and trust in our community. Government andstates have their own territories. Their capacity has also some limitations. But human beings do notsuffer any restrictions. Similarly, no territories for terror, violence and poverty are marked. Therefore,citizens should enter into unlimited territory of democracy, peace, humanity and development andthereof raze the territory of, and bring to end- violence, terror and poverty.
9Therefore, citizen aware, committed and conscious of their rights are energy factors of the nation’sholistic progress and reforms and with a determined belief that they are the vehicles for progressivechanges and prosperity, we are, excitedly engaged in building civil society of this kind.Because it is that the sense of pride developed in citizen is the most important asset and power of thenation, we conclude that nation can neither advance, nor prosper until environment for everyone to cheerup on success stories and achievements has been created and efforts and valour raised for nation’ssuccess and achievement.References: • Robert Dahl, On Democracy, East West Press, New Delhi, 1998 • Human Development Report, UNDP, 2002 • David Beetham, Sarah Bracking, Iain Kearton and Stuart Weir, International IDEA Handbook on Democracy Assessment. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2001, ISBN 90-411-1727-X). • Policy Declarations of Nepal Teachers’ Associations (NTA) Fifth National Congress (2005)