Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"The UN is talking to India, China and the US"

BBC Nepali Service: What did Nepal gain or lose by not having its head of the state at the UN Summit in New York last week?
Kul Chandra Gautam:
It is quite unfortunate that the difficult situation in our country kept him from participating in such a big summit at the highest level. But in the present circumstances, even if the king had participated, Nepal would not have earned respect. So it is good we escaped what could have been a disgrace.

Is there a role for the proposed UN peace building commission in Nepal's peace process? The commission is being established to solve the problems of countries like Nepal. It will not only help end conflict but also play an important role in the rehabilitation of conflict-torn countries and disarmament and reintegration of the military wings of conflicting parties.

UN documents speak of 'the responsibility to protect'. Does that mean the commission can play a role if the conflict continues in Nepal?
The international community's responsibility to protect citizens is aimed at preventing genocides like that in Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia. Since Nepal has not reached that stage, the particular provision is not applicable to Nepal. What the commission can do is protect civilians during conflict and make special attempts to bring such conflict to an end. That is where Nepal will fit in.

What is the UN's take on the unilateral ceasefire by the Maoists and Prachanda's willingness to disarm under UN monitoring?
Secretary General Kofi Annan has repeatedly said that the Nepali conflict cannot be solved militarily and that the UN offers its offices to help dialogue between the two parties. Given the increased military might of the army and the Maoists and soaring security expenditures, the UN can certainly help in disarmament and demobilisation of both sides. In this context, Prachanda's point is relevant and there are possibilities of a UN role as elsewhere.

What can the UN's good offices actually achieve?
The Secretary General or his representatives can do many things if the two sides ask for mediation to prepare points of agreement. The UN has adequate experience on minimising differences and maximising agreements between warring parties and working on compromise. We are still hopeful that the offices of the secretary general will be acceptable to both the rebels and the government in Nepal. But that will not be enough. The role of Nepal's immediate neighbours will also be crucial. The two neighbours have not spoken about the UN's role so far. Therefore, the UN will need to get the nod from three sides: the Maoists who have already sought such role, the government and Nepal's two neighbours.

If that is the case, how come the UN is always bogged down in developmentese and never addresses the geopolitical reality of Nepal's insurgency?
It's not that the UN has not understood geopolitics. Since it recognises the gravity of the matter, it has been in consultation with neighbouring countries before making any move. It may be true that the UN has not been as active as it could be considering the geopolitical situation of the country. What I can tell you is that the Secretary General's special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been holding talks with India, China and the US. He has been trying to receive their cooperation without which it is difficult to see progress towards resolution.

Translated transcription of interview broadcast on BBC Nepali Service 14 September.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)