Experts seek robust civic space for good governance and accountability

civic space

Kathmandu, December 14

Political parties, civil society organisations, and the media sector have claimed that Nepal’s civic space has been compromised over the years due to excessive partisanship and a climate of fear among intellectuals reluctant to raise questions against powerful politicians.

During a discussion programme Accountability, Governance, and Protection of Civic Space in Nepal, organised by Nepal Center for Integrated Development (NCID), in Kathmandu on Wednesday participants highlighted the need for a vibrant and functional civic space to ensure a functioning democracy and to hold public officeholders accountable.

Speaking in the program Manushi Yami Bhattarai, the leader of the Nepal Samajwadi Party, emphasised that the erosion of civic spaces in the country is the result of excessive political partisanship, leading to the degradation of the value of neutrality and hindering civic engagement. 

“The lack of credible institutions has contributed to the rising level of public frustrations. A vibrant civic space is essential to enhance public trust in the political system and to consolidate democracy,” said Bhattarai. 

Another speaker of the program Ramesh Adhikari, a federalism and governance expert said that in comparison to other South Asian countries, Nepal’s civic spaces are more open and vibrant. However, the overall situation cannot be deemed satisfactory.

“Civil society must remain vigilant, committed, and proactive to hold political leaders accountable and make them answerable,” said Adhikari. 

Siromani Dhungana, a journalist and the editor of Nepal Live Today, highlighted that resources within civil society have been considerably constrained due to economic slowdowns and other factors. This limitation has, in turn, restricted independent civic activities.

“As a result, the ability of civil society to engage in meaningful public discourse has drastically shrunk,” he said, adding that Nepal’s core institutions, responsible for delivering public service and ensuring justice, have been compromised. 

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