• 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.
  • Peoples

    36 per cent of Nepal’s total population of 26.5 million are of indigenous nationalities, according to the latest census. Indigenous peoples’ organizations claim a figure of more than 50 per cent
  • Diversity

    125 caste and ethnic groups together constitute the Nepalese population
  • Rights

    2007: Nepal adopts the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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  • Ethnic divides resurface as Nepal's assembly fails to write a new constitution

Ethnic divides resurface as Nepal's assembly fails to write a new constitution

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly collapsed on 28 May failing to meet its deadline to deliver a new constitution amid the furore of federalist and ethnic divisions. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his disappointment in the failure, as well as asserting the need for political consensus to lead to a peaceful way forward.

For centuries, the resentments simmered in this Himalayan nation, a place where everyone knew who belonged to the country's small elite and who did not. Indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and low-caste Nepalis knew they had little chance to join the economic and political leadership, which was dominated by high-caste members of just two ethnic groups among the country's dozens. The resentments helped fuel a communist insurgency during a bloody, decade-long civil war, which finally ground to an end in 2006. They helped undermine the monarchy, which was abolished in 2008. Now, those resentments have erupted anew in regional, ethnic-based politics wherein indigenous and ethnic minorities are demanding identity-based federalism with rights to self-determination and autonomy – demands that dominant groups claim are ethnically divisive. In the days before the constitution deadline, AIPP released a statement condemning political gerrymandering designed to alienate indigenous groups by reclassifying the Khas-Arya as indigenous and called for solidarity amongst the political parties in ensuring an inclusive democracy.



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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