While there have been several research studies that reflect on the achievements and challenges facing the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), there has been very little analysis of the transition from UNMIN to a UN country office, which took place in January 2011. Much of the analysis of the transition detailed in this report relies on UN documents and is generally uncritical.
UNMIN was established in 2007 and has been notable for its limited mandate. Despite adopting a low-key and light touch approach, UNMIN is generally perceived as a success in the literature (CIC 2011, Suhrke 2011, Martin 2012). The available analysis of the transition to a country office highlights the following key points:
- Politicised withdrawal: UNMIN’s presence was increasingly opposed by Nepalese political parties and by India. The prospects for peace remained dim as UNMIN withdrew.
- No breakdown in peace process after departure: Contrary to the expectations of most observers, the peace process was not damaged by the departure of UNMIN. On the contrary, UNMIN’s departure was followed by an agreement on the future of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
- Lack of an exit strategy: UNMIN was criticised for accepting responsibility to monitor the management of arms and armies without the ability to determine its exit strategy (Martin 2012).
- Transfer of capacities: The UN Country Team (UNCT) has taken over many of the responsibilities of UNMIN and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Nepal), including monitoring human rights and continued political engagement.
- Funding issues: Funding will remain a key determinant of whether the UN is able to effectively support the peace process (UN 2011).
- Flexibility and the need for continued adjustment: The UN will need to ‘continuously adjust’ both organisationally and strategically in order to meet the continued challenges of Nepal’s ‘longer-than-expected post-conflict transition’ (UN 2011a, p.1).