Paul Collier and Nepal’s Prospects for Coming Out of the Conflict Trap
Khem Raj Shreesh and Sudhindra Sharma
Paul Collier, a professor of political economy and a well known conflict scholar points to the vicious conflict traps, which entrap a country into a vicious trap, from which it becomes difficult to get out. Nepal’s current predicament, i.e., a protracted post-conflict transition, resonates with Collier’s argument that there is a high probability of post-conflict countries returning to conflict within the first decade of the peace agreement. This paper makes an attempt to engage with the ideas of Paul Collier through a discussion of Nepal’s political economy.
Paul Collier, who is associated with ‘greed not grievance’ hypothesis, has subsequently revised his theory into what is called the ‘feasibility hypothesis’ viz. where it is feasible, a conflict will occur. Collier has also demonstrated how it is probable for a country coming out of a conflict to relapse back into conflict. The paper will draw upon Collier’s ideas of traps and try to locate the proximate causes of Nepal’s conflict and its cost, and explain the economic trends, especially in light of the political instability and various identity-based agitation movements, and explore the post-conflict political-economy dynamics to ascertain the prospects of lasting peace for Nepal.
While not discounting the autonomy of political actors (or in other words, the ‘agency’), this paper will concentrate on the ‘structures’ such as Nepal’s political economy and the demographic features of the population and examine the implication of these inter-alia Collier’s thesis. It will examine the inter-relationship between political instability (that has come about once political parties by-passed or subverted the principle of consensus) and poor economic performance, and how one reinforces the other, and in doing so how these tend to undermine Nepal’s prospects for lasting peace. Examining Nepal’s GDP (including the composition, role and trends of agriculture, industry, and service sectors), foreign trade (including the composition and trends of imports and exports), the remittance and foreign employment, the structure of government revenue and expenditure, including that supported by foreign aid, and the trends of tourism, the paper assesses the overall trends in political economy and its implications for consolidation of peace.