• Indigenous peoples in Nepal

    Indigenous peoples in Nepal

    The Nepalese population is comprised by 125 caste and ethnic groups. Nepal has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, the constitution denies the collective rights and aspirations for identity-based federalism of indigenous peoples, and Nepal’s indigenous peoples are thus still facing a number of challenges.

Nepal

The Nepali population is composed of 125 castes and ethnic groups. Nepal has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ratified ILO Convention 169.

However, the Constitution, enacted in 2015, denies collective rights and aspirations for federalism based on the identity of Indigenous Peoples, making the Indigenous Peoples of Nepal amount to challenges. It remains to be seen how the amendments or the new wording of the new constitution and the drafting of new legislation will comply with the provisions of these international human rights norms.

Indigenous Peoples in Nepal

According to the 2011 census, the indigenous nationalities (Adivasi Janajati) of Nepal comprise 36% of the total population of 26.5 million. However, organizations of Indigenous Peoples claim a figure of more than 50%.

The 2011 census included the population as belonging to 125 castes and ethnic groups, including 63 indigenous peoples, 59 castes, including 15 Dalit castes, and three religious groups, including Muslim groups.

Although Indigenous Peoples constitute a significant proportion of the population, throughout the history of Nepal, indigenous peoples have been discriminated against, marginalized, excluded, subjugated, dominated and exploited in terms of land, territories, resources, language, culture, laws customary and political and economic opportunities.

Main challenges for the Indigenous Peoples of Nepal

The new Constitution of Nepal, promulgated in 2015 amidst the controversy and the use of state violence against Indigenous Peoples and the Madhesi, has failed in its implementation.

This is due to disputes between the main political parties, the lack of meaningful inclusion of all groups in society in the drafting process, and the continuous protests of the Indigenous and madhesis peoples.

The Lawyers Association for the Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP) has identified several forms of discrimination against indigenous peoples in the constitution, and the movement of indigenous peoples requires total modifications, from the preamble to the annexes, or a complete rewriting of the constitution in line with UNDRIP, ILO Convention 169 and the Final Document.

The Constitution has stipulated the establishment of two commissions: one for Indigenous Peoples and another for Tharus. However, it seems that these two commissions will lack power, without authority or judicial power or other significant power in addition to dealing with some development work, such as income-generating activities, interactive programs and capacity building of Indigenous Peoples' organizations.

There are still challenges for the indigenous peoples of Nepal in terms of participation in programs and policymaking processes such as the UNDRIP and the Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC due to lack of awareness, access to information, defense and the hegemonic mentality of the policymakers.

Possible progress for the Indigenous Peoples of Nepal

More than 100 Indigenous and local individuals signed a memorandum on the expansion of roads in the Kathmandu Valley asking that the criteria drafted without consultation and consent of the indigenous Newars and other locals be eliminated according to their rights guaranteed in the Local Autonomy Law of 1999 and ILO Convention 169 and UNDRIP.

The memorandum also states that any development program must be carried out only with the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples in the municipality and warns of protests if the demands are not met. UNDP Nepal, in partnership with the National Federation of Indigenous Women (NIWF), has initiated research on the economic empowerment of Indigenous women in Nepal.

Nepal: Stop State brutality against the Tamang Indigenous Peoples and Locals

The Indigenous Tamang community in Nepal has been engaged in a protracted struggle against a power transmission line and power station that is being forced onto their land without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The protest started three years ago and has now dangerously intensified over the past two weeks with armed police and military entering the area. So far, nine Indigenous persons have been arrested and several have been injured. 

Stop the construction of Tamakoshi-Kathmandu 220/400 kV Transmission Line Project in Shankharapur-3, Kathmandu

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, strongly condemn the ongoing repression by Nepal’s police and armed police forces on the Indigenous Tamang and other locals in Bojheni village, Shankharapur Municipality Ward no. 3 in the northeast of Kathmandu for the construction of Tamakoshi-Kathmandu 200/400 kV Transmission Line and its substation.

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The Indigenous World 2022: Nepal

According to the 2011 census, the Indigenous Nationalities (Indigenous Peoples) of Nepal comprise 36% of the total population of 30.2 million,[1] although Indigenous Peoples’ organizations claim a larger proportion of more than 50%. The 2011 census listed the population as belonging to 125 caste and ethnic groups, including 63 Indigenous Peoples; 59 castes, including 15 Dalit castes;[2] and three religious groups, including Muslims. The recently completed census of 2021 is yet to be made public and it may reveal some changes in demographic composition.

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The Indigenous World 2021: Nepal

According to the 2011 census, the Indigenous Nationalities (Adivasi Janajati) of Nepal comprise 36% of the total population of 30.2 million,[1] although Indigenous Peoples’ organizations claim a larger figure of more than 50%. The 2011 census listed the population as belonging to 125 caste and ethnic groups, including 63 Indigenous Peoples; 59 castes, including 15 Dalit castes;[2] and three religious groups, including Muslim groups.

Even though Indigenous Peoples constitute a significant proportion of the population, they have been systematically discriminated, marginalized, excluded, subjugated, dominated, exploited and internally colonized by the dominant caste groups throughout Nepal’s history in terms of land, territories, resources, language, culture, customary laws, political and economic opportunities and collective way of life.

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Urgent Call for Endorsement of Statement on Nepal: Stop State brutality against the Tamang Indigenous Peoples and Locals

The Indigenous Tamang community in Nepal has been engaged in a protracted struggle against a power transmission line and power station that is being forced onto their land without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The protest started three years ago and has now dangerously intensified over the past two weeks with armed police and military entering the area. So far, nine Indigenous persons have been arrested and several have been injured. 


The Indigenous Tamang community in Nepal has been engaged in a protracted struggle against a power transmission line and power station that is being forced onto their land without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The protest started three years ago and has now dangerously intensified over the past two weeks with armed police and military entering the area. So far, nine Indigenous persons have been arrested and several have been injured. 

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Nepal Indigenous communities vindicated in rare European human rights victory

Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Nepal are celebrating a hard-fought victory following a landmark investigation which found that the European Investment Bank (EIB) must take urgent steps to uphold their right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) in its funding of the hydropower sector. FPIC is an international legal standard empowering Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold consent to projects affecting them and their territories.

Read the full statement on the investigation here:  https://www.lahurnip.org/press-release/54

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Indigenous communities in Nepal launch Free, Prior, and Informed Consent protocol for EIB-funded Marsyangdi Corridor transmission line

KATHMANDU, 8 October 2020 – Today, Indigenous communities affected by the 220 kV Marsyangdi Corridor transmission line in Nepal call on their government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to seek their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) in accordance with a protocol they are releasing detailing the FPIC process.

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Indigenous World

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