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Kathmandu Declaration on Challenges and Way Forward for Democracy and Peace in South Asia

6 July 2011

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Regional Conference on

Challenges and Way Forward for Democracy and Peace in South Asia

Kathmandu Declaration

We, the delegates from all countries of South Asia representing various political ideologies, mass organizations, trade unions, civil societies, NGOs, academia, youths and people’s movements representing women, Dalit, indigenous peoples and other groups of people met together to deliberate on the challenges and way forward for democracy and peace in South Asia on 01-02 July 2011 in Kathmandu. We affirm that,

South Asia, which is very rich in cultural and natural heritages, is passing through a difficult period. On the one hand, the inter-state relationships are marred by different levels of mistrusts, hostility and conflict, on the other hand, the exogenous forces are adding to the crises by inflicting militarism, debt domination and securitization. These together have created a situation of despair and vulnerability. The people lack an enabling environment for fulfilling their aspirations in a manner which needs to be bottom-up and participatory. The current model of representative democracy is mostly benefiting a minority affluent class, while the majority populations are drowned in deep poverty, exclusion, denial of fundamental human rights and alienation. Political fragmentation of the region by power brokers has indeed accelerated this process of deprivation and underdevelopment. The dominant development paradigm in South Asia which is being promoted by varieties of international aid architect so far has grossly failed addressing the aspirations and needs of majority people.

There is a general consensus among the people of the region that peace is the only way to shared prosperity and meaningful democracy. They reject the present ’growth-oriented development model’ based on indiscriminate exploitation of human labour and plundering of natural resources that maintains, promotes and perpetuates patriarchy and discrimination. The challenge of the time is to put the balance in the right perspective to ensure optimum participation with economic, social, cultural and ecological justice.

The way forward is to link grassroots communities for unified and continuous struggle for the common cause of shared prosperity and pave the way for lasting peace. This requires radical changes in the mind-set and the processes of the present systems of governance in the countries of South Asia, thus relocating priorities and resources to areas that deliver the most for the majority of the population.

It is of utmost importance to rise against divisive forces that propagate and promote religious and political extremism, arms race, ethnocide and racism. The hierarchical social and political structures must be demolished to foster the era of freedom, peace, gender equality, social inclusion and justice, which are the ultimate guarantees for sustainable democracy.

02 July 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal