Nepal: Soon with conscription?

The Kathmandu Post reported on 19 May on a concept paper of a sub-committee of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal which recommends the introduction of conscription. According to the recommendation, all able Nepali citizens will be conscripted into the Army at the age of 18. The conscripts will have to undergo compulsory military training for a period of two years. The 11-member subcommittee formed by the National Interest Preservation Committee of the Constituent Assembly has proposed the provision for compulsory military training and service for all adult Nepali citizens. The concept paper on national security and Nepal Army was finalised on Monday by the sub-committee headed by CPN-UML lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari.

“All able citizens who have completed 18 years of age should participate in phase-wise military training and service for two years and those men and women who are not interested due to religious belief and other convictions should perform alternative service,” the concept paper says. “We can create a small professional army equipped with modern infrastructure and technology after we introduce compulsory service provision in the Army,” reads the report.

It is presently unknow how the right to conscientious objection might be recognised. According to the report in the Kathmandu Post, "those men and women who are not interested due to religious belief and other convictions should perform alternative service". This hints at the possibility of conscientious objection, but it is not clear what the conditions for the recognition of a conscientious objection would be, and whether the substitute service would be genuinely civilian.

If the Constituent Assembly accepts the recommendation, Nepal will be one of only very few countries with conscription for men and women (with Israel and Eritrea). But it will also be one of only very few Asian countries providing for conscientious objection.

Source: Kathmandu Post: Concept paper for compulsory conscription, 19 May 2009