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Recognizing Diversity and Social Inclusion in the Constitution - Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal Booklet Series No. 9
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The Constituent Assembly (CA) is engaged in drafting a new Constitution for Nepal. The CA is a representative body in its own right. It includes a larger number of women, indigenous peoples, marginalized caste and minority groups than have ever participated in such a process before. The CA is consulting with the public to ensure that the concerns of Nepal’s diverse communities are addressed through the constitution. Few countries are homogeneous. Diversity exists in many countries. The majority have populations who speak different languages, adopt different cultures and follow different religions. It is a fact of their national life but it is not always recognized or celebrated. In the past, many rulers believed that to unify a country and build a nation, it was necessary to promote one common culture, language and religion. It was also believed that this made government more effective and efficient. This led to policies of uniformity which either suppressed by force other cultures or devalued them by encouraging assimilation to a dominant culture. This was so in the case of Nepal, a country with several religions, ethnic groups and indigenous peoples, but where only the Nepali language and the Hindu religion were given priority. Another reality to note is that in many countries, communities who practice a minority religion speak a different language or adopt traditions that set them apart from the majority community, and, therefore, are marginalized. They are less represented in government or in the economy and this can create a cycle of exclusion. At the heart of the discussion on recognizing diversity and ensuring social inclusion is the concept of equality. It recognizes that members of every caste, ethnicity, language, religion and community are equally important to the country. The concept of equality is protected by the constitution and this has particular significance. The constitution is the fundamental law of the country. The form, structure and operation of the government of a country is determined by this fundamental law.
Nepal is also rich in its linguistic diversity. More than 90 languages are officially recognized. However, traditionally, only one language, Nepali, which is spoken as first language by only about half of the population, has been the language of government and official business. As a result, linguistic minorities have remained marginalized and excluded. There are various ways in which a Constitution can address linguistic diversity. Usually, Constitutions designate one language as an official, national or state language. Special laws are enacted on the details of the use of such a language. Some countries recognize a number of languages as official, and oblige their state institutions to use and operate in these languages (also including a script). In most states, these languages are used by equally large communities. However, sometimes very small languages are also included as the official state language. In federal countries, there may be provisions for the use of regional languages as official ones in the federal units, usually in addition to the overall national language.
#ConstituentAssembly #InclusiveConstitutionOfNepal #ParticipatoryConstitution
CCD/UNDP ,   (2009 )
Type / Script:
Publication in English
Thematic Group:
 UNDP : Social and Institutional Developoment
01.07.00  -  General And National Law
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