Nepalese Pin Hopes for Peace on Upcoming Appreciative Inquiry Conference

Can an Appreciative Inquiry conference slated for Jan. 8-10, 2014 in Nepal help spark peace in the conflict-ridden country? Co-organizer RC Lamichhane has high hopes it can, given his past experiences with large-group AI summits. Pictured above, speakers of the 2009 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference, which took place in Nepal.

Nepalese Pin Hopes for Peace on Upcoming Appreciative Inquiry Conference

January event follows on heels of nail-biting second constituent assembly election

His experiences with three large-scale Appreciative Inquiry (AI) summits have fuelled RC Lamichhane’s belief that the atypical methodology can open a path to peace in his home country of Nepal.

RC recalls being wowed by the constructive spirit, collaboration and sense of possibility that manifested during an AI summit convening more than 200 people from all walks of life in 2005.

 
  RC Lamichhane

He was excited by a similar sense of possibility when his organization, Imagine Nepal, brought the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference to his country in 2009 and when he attended the same global forum in 2012 in Belgium.

What he saw in these gatherings contrasted sharply with the qualities prevailing across much of the rest of his country of nearly 30 million people. Nepal has been fraught with civil unrest for years, sparked in large part by conflict between the ethnic Maoist and the former monarchy, which ended in 2008.  

After Nepal’s king’s powers were removed, a constituent assembly was elected and struggled for four years to create a constitution. This ended in failure in May of 2012 but hopes are now being pinned on the elections this month, Nov. 19, for a new constituent assembly. The elections will be followed by renewed wrangling over the constitution.

Anticipating heightened conflict around the elections, the current government has already begun deploying more than 60,000 army personnel.

At the crux of the challenge, according to RC, is his country’s immense ethnic diversity. He’s anticipating a similar spirit of negativity, unwillingness to collaborate and hopelessness to characterize this new effort to create the constitution – unless Imagine Nepal can exert the amount of influence he would like it to.

 
 

Dr Ram Baran Yadav, the first president of Nepal, opening the 2009 AI summit.

Imagine Nepal, a 12-year-old non-profit, calls itself a social movement and operates on the stated premise that  positive transformation of society is possible through “the enhancement of positive attributes.” These attributes manifest “through inquiring into and tapping the strengths, positive potential and imagination of people.”

Under RC’s direction as chair person, Imagine Nepal is planning an AI summit for January 2014.

“We have to do something for the betterment of society,” RC says. “I believe AI can do something for Nepal.”

RC and his Imagine Nepal colleagues have deep hopes that the January event, which is expected to convene about 300 people from all walks of life, including government, can show Nepal that there is a way to bring people together around their differences and co-create a common way forward together.

“That is very important for Nepal to understand,” says RC. “People need to understand that (even with any amount of) diversity, we can reach a consensus; we can make a common decision.

“Through the conference, we want to give that message to the politicians, to the peace makers to the bureaucrats and to anyone else who comes to the conference.”

He and the Imagine Nepal team have been encouraged by the support they’ve received already both locally and from the international AI community. Within the country, people are saying there couldn’t be a better time for the gathering and a number of AI practitioners from abroad have said they’ll participate and add their expertise.

The 2014 AI summit in Nepal is slated for Jan. 8-10.

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