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Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Image of USAID-funded ballot printing machines
USAID’s critical logistical support allowed Nepal's Election Commission to purchase three printers to print 50 million tamper-resistant ballots, making possible the historic April 2008 elections inaugurating Nepal's transition to a democratic republic.
International Foundation for Electoral Systems

After more than a decade of armed insurgency, a window of opportunity for peace and reconciliation in Nepal opened in 2006 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Constituent Assembly (CA) elections were successfully held in 2008, and the CA was tasked with consolidating the peace process and drafting Nepal’s new constitution; however, they failed to do so by the time their term expired in May 2012. In the lead-up to the CA’s dissolution, Nepal experienced heightened tensions among ethnic groups, political parties, and government institutions. When dialogues and protests became divisive or, on occasion, violent, USAID’s activities to support alternative dispute resolution, political party negotiation, and consensus building at the community and national levels became all the more significant.

At the national level, USAID supports government and political systems by assisting key institutions such as the Election Commission, the CA and political parties to become more democratic, inclusive and effective. At the local level, USAID helps communities to participate in development decision-making and foster linkages between citizens and their Village Development Committees and District Development Committees, as well as other local government entities. USAID’s Democracy and Governance programs also strengthen government response and non-governmental organization services for one of Nepal’s most vulnerable populations—Nepalis at high risk for human trafficking (sex, labor, and other) and the survivors of those crimes.

  • USAID supports an informal forum that creates a space for confidential dialogues, helping political parties to build trust and confidence. The Nepal Transition to Peace Forum is used extensively by the parties to negotiate compromises on challenges to the peace process.
  • USAID provided support to the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare in developing key policy documents, such as the National Minimum Standards for Victim Protection (NMS) and the Standard Operating Procedure for Shelter Homes (SOP) for human trafficking survivors. The NMS and SOP establish the policies and guidelines for victim protection and promote standardized services for trafficking in persons survivors.
  • In partnership with the Election Commission Nepal and United Nations, USAID has conducted ongoing voter education and voter registration for upcoming elections and has already registered more than 10 million voters and trained about 2,000 voter education trainers.