In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched a “People’s War” against the Government of Nepal. Although the conflict was initially of a relatively low intensity, it rapidly escalated in 2001-2002 after the king assumed executive powers for himself and cancelled elections.1 Early efforts to end the war were led by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which mediated talks between the parties from 2000-2003. The UK Department for International Development joined the effort in 2001, facilitating consultations with the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Crisis Management Initiative. The UN Secretary-General also offered his good offices to facilitate talks, while the Carter Center also made its services available.2 Such efforts were, however, unsuccessful or dismissed by the belligerents, and the conflict continued.
Faced with increasingly draconian policies from the Royal Palace and a lack of progress on the battlefield, the side-lined political parties of Nepal met with the Maoists in November 2005. These talks culminated with a 12-Point Understanding which, among its provisions, called for an end to autocratic rule and the formation of a constituent assembly to produce a new constitution.3 The unlikely alliance between some traditionally conservative political parties and the Maoist movement gained widespread support among the Nepalese population and inspired widespread protests against the monarchy in April 2006. In the face of these popular demonstrations, the king relinquished power to Nepal’s last elected parliament, which immediately renewed talks with the Maoists. The following month, a formal ceasefire was negotiated, in June, the parties agreed to an Eight-Point Understanding regarding the peace process, and in August, a formal request was sent to the UN Secretary-General for assistance.4 This succession of accords culminated on 21 November 2006 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which formally ended the war and created a framework for the formation of a transitional government and the promulgation of an interim constitution.5 A month later, the parties signed the Agreement on the Monitoring of Management of Arms and Armies, which outlined an extensive UN-supervised Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration and military integration process.6 The negotiations that ended the war in Nepal were conducted without external mediators or facilitators, although the efforts of a host of international organisations helped to open dialogue between the parties.