Nepal has entered a new phase of political development following the promulgation of new Constitution, formation of local government, and followed by Legislative, Provincial and National Assemble elections. Judicial Committees have been formed in 753 local Government under the chair of Deputy Mayor/Vice- Chairperson of which 94% are led by women. It is relevant to note that Article 217 of the Constitution of Nepal states about the Judicial Committees that the panel headed by the Deputy Chief of Rural Municipality and Municipality shall settle the prescribed category of disputes arising at local level. Furthermore, with a view to give substantiation to the constitutional provision sections 47 to 54 of the Local Governance Operation Act 2074 provide an elaboration on the constitutional provision on local dispute resolution with intent to give enforcement to it. The provisions in the law intend to focus on mediation requiring that community disputes should be resolved through mediated facilitation to arrive at mutually agreed gain-gain outcome. Going by the empirical evidences obtained during the last one year from the implementation of the provisions at local level, it has been generally found that the Judicial Committees have used their authorities to enhance and institutionalize mediated facilitation for dispute resolution. Despite their involvement in budget planning and revenue, monitoring and evaluation, JCs have given priority to Community Mediation.
Melmillap Alliance (RUWDUC, IGD and Pro Public) with the objective “to ensure access to justice, primarily to women and marginalized generally unable to access it” has been implementing “Strengthening Access to Justice for Women and Marginalized Communities through Community Mediation (A2J-WOMCOM)” Project with the support from Governance Facility from January 2016 to December 2018 in 7 districts (Dadeldhura, Doti, Kailali, Dhausha, Sarlahi, Tanahun, Chitwan) of Nepal. The Project outcomes and impacts continue to be highly relevant due to its dispute resolution system which is cost effective, easily accessible to the marginalized and women groups, and works towards ensuring social and gender justice. During the current Annual reporting period (Jan- Dec, 2018), the project outputs were delivered as per the agreed AWAB.
This final year mainly focused on coordination with Local Government, Judicial Committees and relevant stakeholders (Police, Women Group, Political Parties). The coordination focused on ownership of the project by the local government, post project phase out. All the 56 Community Mediation Service Centres which were established by MA have been handed over to the community. As per the Local Governance Operating Act, 2074 all trained mediators have to be certified by Judicial Committees for involving themselves in Community Mediation Process. Out of 838 Mediators trained through A2J-WOMCOM Project, 756 Mediators have been certified by JCs. Remaining Mediators are in the process which will be monitored by MA Post Project Phase out as well.
A total of 2,286 cases were registered from September 2016 to December 2018 in 56 Community Mediation Service Centres among which 1,968 cases were mediated successfully by 667 Mediators (57.5% women mediators and 53.2% marginalized mediators participated during these successful mediation processes) validates the need and value of community mediation. Close coordination with elected members has resulted in referral of 359 cases (Ward offices: 155, Judicial Committees: 96, WDO, Police, Land Revenue Office and Court: 108) to Community Mediation Service Centres.
It has been observed that 661 (52.8%) women from 56 Wards accessed community mediation services, while 744 (59.42%) marginalized community members availed the same. All 56 Wards of MA working area have allocated budget for Community Mediation. The budget will be used for transportation and communication cost for the mediators and stationery used during Mediation sessions. This will encourage Mediators who have been working voluntarily for more than 2 years. Budgetary allocation and space provided for CMs Centres by the Local Government reflects sustainability of the project. MA has formed 7 Women Mediator’s Alliance (WMA) in 7 districts (Dadeldhura, Doti, Kailali, Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Chitwan and Tanahun). The Alliance has been formed selecting Women Mediators from A2J-WOMCOM working area. For this purpose, MA has prepared criteria for selection of Women Mediators, along with their roles and responsibilities. The main objectives of WMA were to work as bridge to support in accessing justice for women and reach out to Judicial Committees and vice versa. MA has played the role of secretariat during the WMA formation and provided necessary suggestions and feedback for the future.
A key lesson learnt during this quarter has been coordination with Local Government and Judicial Committees regarding their support in ownership and sustainability of the program. The elected bodies have been supporting the CM program as per the Local Governance Act and have allocated budget for sustainability of the program.