1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the initial report
of Nepal on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/5/Add.45) at its 44th, 45th and
46th meetings (E/C.12/2001/SR.44-46), held on 22 and 23 August 2001,
and adopted, at its 55th meeting (E/C.12/2001/SR.55), held on 29 August
2001, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the initial report of the State party, which was in general
prepared in conformity with the Committee's guidelines, as well as
the written replies to the Committee's list of issues (E/C.12/Q/NEP/1).
However, it regrets the nine-year delay in the submission of the initial
report as well as the delay in the submission of the written replies
to the Committee's list of issues.
3. The Committee
notes with appreciation the open and constructive dialogue with the
delegation and its willingness to answer the questions raised by the
Committee but regrets the absence of experts to answer all the technical
B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the assertion by the State party that the
rights contained in the Covenant could be justiciable. It further
notes with satisfaction the extraordinary power of the Supreme Court
to issue orders for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the
5. The Committee
notes with appreciation that Nepal signed in 1996 a technical cooperation
project agreement and a memorandum of understanding with the Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and that under the project
a number of activities have been undertaken on the administration
of justice, treaty accession, reporting obligations, strengthening
of the National Human Rights Commission, compilation and publication
in the Nepali language of international instruments ratified by Nepal,
and support to NGOs.
6. The Committee
welcomes the establishment of an independent National Human Rights
Commission, as well as the establishment of a committee, under the
chairmanship of the Chief Secretary of the Cabinet Secretariat, to
execute the plan of action for human rights in accordance with the
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
7. The Committee
welcomes the establishment in 1995 of the Ministry of Women, Children
and Social Welfare.
8. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the adoption of the Anti -Trafficking Act
to combat trafficking in women and children, as well as the implementation
of measures at national and regional level for this purpose.
9. The Committee
welcomes the abolishment in 2000 of kamaiya, the system of
agricultural bonded labour.
10. The Committee
notes that the State party has adopted measures to abolish and punish
the practices of polygamy, dowry, Deuki (a tradition of dedicating
girls to a god or goddess; the girls become "temple prostitutes")
and prostitution among the Bedi caste.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Covenant
11. The Committee
takes note that the efforts of the State party to comply with its
obligations under the Covenant are impeded by the high rate of population
growth, the slow-down in economic growth, foreign debt, the effect
of some aspects of the structural adjustment programmes it has adopted
as well as the Maoist insurgency, which have negatively affected the
enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by the population,
and especially the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of society.
12. The Committee
also acknowledges that the prevalence of certain customary traditions
in Nepal continues to impede the full enjoyment by women and girls
of their rights under the Covenant.
13. The Committee
notes that the State party's national economy depends heavily on agriculture
in the rural areas.
D. Principal subjects of concern
14. The Committee
regrets the unclear status of the Covenant in the domestic legal order
of the State party and the lack of case law with respect to any of
the rights under the Covenant.
15. The Committee
notes that the State party has adopted a series of plans on several
human rights issues but regrets the lack of benchmarks to illustrate
the extent or degree of achievements.
16. The Committee
is deeply concerned about the extent of poverty in Nepal, in particular
in rural areas where poverty and discrimination against women are
most pronounced. In this regard, it notes that the targets set by
the Ninth Plan, which aim at the progressive reduction of the poverty
rate from 42 per cent to 32 per cent, were not reached. Further, it
notes that the Poverty Alleviation Commission has not yet been established.
17. The Committee
notes with concern the legal inequalities between women and men in
the field of inheritance, the regime of shared assets in marriage,
divorce, child custody in case of divorce and remarriage, and the
conferring of nationality to children on equal terms. It expresses
its concern also about the de facto inequality that exists between
men and women in the Nepalese society, despite legislative guarantees
of equality. It further notes with concern the low representation
of women in public service, the high female illiteracy rate and the
unequal wages for equal work.
18. The Committee
is deeply concerned at the high number of women and girls being trafficked
for prostitution. The Committee also regrets the continuation of polygamy
and the practices or dowry, Deuki and prostitution among the
Bedi caste, particularly in rural areas.
19. The Committee
is concerned at the high rate of domestic violence and the absence
of specific legislation in this field.
20. The Committee
is concerned at the high unemployment and underemployment rates in
Nepal and about the lack of skills-oriented education.
21. The Committee
notes with concern that land and agrarian reforms have still not been
addressed properly and that tenants therefore have not obtained security
of tenure, and that a great number of peasants do not yet possess
22. The Committee
is concerned that although the system of agricultural bonded labour
known as Kamaiya was abolished in July 2000, the emancipated
Kamaiyas are facing many problems, including lack of housing, land,
work, and education for their children.
23. The Committee
is concerned that the legal minimum wage is not sufficient to provide
a decent standard of living for workers and their families, in particular
in the agricultural sector.
24. The Committee
expresses its concern at the fact that the State party has not ratified
ILO Conventions Nos. 29, 81, 87 and 182.
25. The Committee
regrets that there are provisions in the existing legislation of the
State party whereby "moral turpitude", a term which is not defined
with sufficient precision and which can lead to arbitrary interpretations,
constitutes a valid ground for removal, dismissal or disqualification
from employment in the civil service.
26. The Committee
expresses its concern at the high incidence of child labour in Nepal,
especially in rural areas.
27. The Committee
notes with regret that 29 per cent of the population has no access
to safe water, 90 per cent has no access to health services and 84
per cent has no access to sanitation.
28. The Committee
is concerned about the occurrence of forced evictions, such as in
the cases of the people displaced by the Kulekhani and Marshynagdi
hydropower projects, without adequate compensation or appropriate
29. The Committee
notes with concern that only Tibetans who arrived in Nepal before
1990 and the Bhutanese are recognized as refugees by the authorities.
It further notes that while the Tibetan refugees benefit from appropriate
treatment, the Bhutanese refugees are not allowed to work, are not
allowed freedom of movement outside their refugee camps, and do not
have access to the same health and educational facilities as Nepalese
30. The Committee
notes with concern that the State party has not acceded to the 1951
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol relating
to the Status of Refugees, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status
of Stateless Persons, or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
It is also noted that the Nepalese authorities have no mechanism to
deal with unaccompanied refugee children.
31. The Committee
is concerned about the high incidence of infant and child mortality,
especially in rural areas. It further notes that many children in
rural areas suffer from malnutrition.
32. The Committee
notes with deep concern the high rates of maternal mortality, especially
in rural areas, owing mainly to unsafe and illegal abortions, and
that female life expectancy in Nepal is lower than male life expectancy.
33. The Committee
notes with alarm that abortion is absolutely illegal and is considered
a criminal offence, punishable by severe sentences, and cannot be
carried out even when pregnancy is life threatening or the result
of incest or rape. The Committee also regrets the fact that the reproductive
and sexual health programmes are not implemented because of lack of
34. The Committee
is concerned that under the current national health plan for 1997-2017,
the role of the State in the development of a national health care
system consistent with the structural adjustment programmes is minimized.
It further notes that the mental health service in Nepal is insufficient
and that there is no community mental health programme available.
35. The Committee
is deeply concerned that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the State party
is spreading at an alarming rate due to commercial sex and trafficking
of women and children, and sex tourism.
36. The Committee
notes that the State party has initiated free primary education but
is concerned that the policy of compulsory education has yet to be
implemented. It further notes the great disparity in enrolment in
primary schools between girls and boys, the high drop-out rate among
pupils, and the low quality of education in public schools.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
37. The Committee
strongly urges the State party to ensure that the Covenant is taken
into full account in the formulation and implementation of all policies
concerning economic, social and cultural rights and that its provisions
are justiciable in fact.
38. The Committee
strongly recommends that Nepal's obligations under the Covenant be
taken into account in all aspects of its negotiations with international
financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the
World Bank and the World Trade Organization, in order to ensure that
economic, social and cultural rights, particularly of the most vulnerable
groups, are duly protected.
39. The Committee
urges the State party to continue to develop and adopt a national
plan of action for human rights, which would include economic, social
and cultural rights, in accordance with the 1993 Vienna Declaration
and Programme of Action and in the context of a participatory, open
and consultative process. It also requests the State party to annex
a copy of the plan to its second periodic report to the Committee.
40. The Committee
encourages the State party to ensure that the National Human Rights
Commission does not concentrate solely on civil and political rights,
but accords equal weight and attention to economic, social and cultural
41. The Committee
recommends that Nepal explicitly take the Covenant into account in
its policies, programmes and projects on poverty alleviation. It further
recommends that the State party establish the Poverty Alleviation
Commission. In this regard, the State party is referred to the statement
on poverty adopted by the Committee on 4 May 2001.
42. The Committee
urges the State party to implement more vigorously existing legislation
on gender equality and to incorporate a gender equality perspective
in legislation, with a view to ensuring greater equality of men and
women, especially in the areas of family, employment, labour conditions
and representation in public services and administration.
43. The Committee
urges the State party to enact or enforce legislation prohibiting
customary practices, such as polygamy, dowry, Deuki and prostitution
among the Bedi caste, and restricted ownership by women of land and
family property, which violate the rights of women and girl children
and to take measures to combat such practices by all means, including
national educational programmes.
44. The Committee
recommends that the State party adopt specific legislation on domestic
violence against women and children.
45. The Committee
recommends that the State party enforce its legislation in an effective
way and establish administrative mechanisms and monitoring systems
to prevent and combat trafficking in women and children. It further
recommends the strengthening of measures to allow the return, rehabilitation
and reintegration into society of trafficked women.
46. The Committee
urges the State party to enforce effectively legislation and programmes
to put an end to discrimination, in particular with regard to access
to housing, work and education, against persons belonging to the Dalits
and the liberated Kamaiyas.
47. The Committee
recommends that the State party take effective action to reduce the
unemployment rate by, inter alia, providing skills-oriented
education and training, in particular in the agricultural sector.
48. The Committee
recommends that the State party review its legislation and adopt all
appropriate measures with a view to continuing agrarian reform and
resolving land tenure issues.
49. The Committee
recommends that the minimum wage be determined on the basis of criteria
for an adequate standard of living in the State party, especially
for those working in the agricultural sector.
50. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party ratify all relevant ILO conventions,
in particular Conventions Nos. 29, 81 and 87.
51. The Committee
urges the State party to define with more precision the term "moral
turpitude", so that it cannot be used arbitrarily as a ground for
removal, dismissal or disqualification from employment in the civil
52. The Committee
urges the State party to take effective measures to strengthen existing
laws on child labour and to improve its monitoring mechanisms to ensure
that those laws are fully enforced to protect children from economic
exploitation. In this regard, the Committee urges the State party
to continue its collaboration with ILO/IPEC and to consider ratifying
the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182).
53. The Committee
recommends that the State party provide adequate compensation and
appropriate relocation measures to those who are forcibly evicted
because of development projects, such as in the cases of the Kulekhani
and Marshynagdi hydropower projects, in line with the Committee's
general comments Nos. 4 and 7.
54. The Committee
recommends that the State party acknowledge people other than those
from Tibet and Bhutan as refugees and provide the same kind of treatment
to all refugees. The Committee invites the State party to consider
acceding to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
and its 1967 Protocol, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status
of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
55. The Committee
urges the State party to take remedial action to address the problems
of clandestine abortions, unwanted pregnancies and the high rate of
maternal mortality. In this regard, the Committee urges the State
party to reinforce reproductive and sexual health programmes, in particular
in rural areas, and to allow abortion when pregnancies are life threatening
or a result of rape or incest.
56. The Committee
requests that the State party, in its next periodic report, provide
data about shorter-term health plans and more detailed information
about mentally disabled persons and access to private hospitals and
institutions by the more marginalized sectors of the population.
57. The Committee
recommends that primary and basic education be made free and compulsory
for all without discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity,
religion or social status.
58. The State
party is urged to adopt a comprehensive National Education for All
(EFA) Plan, as anticipated by paragraph 16 of the Dakar Framework
of Action. When formulating and implementing its EFA Plan, the State
party is urged to take into account the Committee's general comments
Nos. 11 and 13 and general comment No. 1 of the Committee on the Rights
of the Child, and to establish an effective monitoring system for
the Plan. The State party is also encouraged to continue the technical
advice and assistance from UNESCO in relation to both the formulation
and implementation of its EFA Plan.
59. The Committee
urges the State party to incorporate benchmarks to measure the level
of achievement expected at different times within its plans of actions
in various human rights-related fields so that progress can be monitored.
60. The Committee
recommends that the State party ensure that projects involving privatization
of water supply provide for continued, assured and affordable access
to water by local communities, indigenous people, and the most disadvantaged
and marginalized groups of society.
61. The Committee
recommends that the State party continue the technical assistance
from and cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights and the relevant United Nations specialized agencies
and programmes, particularly in the preparation of its second periodic
report to the Committee.
62. The Committee
requests the State party to disseminate its concluding observations
widely among all levels of society and to inform the Committee of
all steps taken in this respect. It also encourages the State party
to consult with non-governmental organizations and other members of
civil society in the preparation of the second periodic report.
the Committee requests the State party to submit its second periodic
report by 30 June 2006 and to include in the report detailed information
on the steps it has undertaken to implement the recommendations contained
in the present concluding observations.