In the terrains of modern peacebuilding, dialogue is generally understood as a non-adversarial tool that seeks mutual understanding through sharing of perspectives, interests and needs of one another. Ideally, the aim of dialogue is to engage stakeholders in a space of constructive conversations with perhaps an intent of gain an understanding of others’ ways of feeling, thinking, and expressing themselves, which then allows change. Although the roots of dialogue can be traced back thousands of years, and its application in the present day has been increasingly recognized as a fundamental peacebuilding action.
As an agency spearheading global peacebuilding, the United Nations in its General Assembly Resolution A and B 53/243 of 13 September 1999 has mentioned that “peace not only is the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged, and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”. It has laid out clearly that the peace is not just a ‘no-conflict’ situation but something that requires an inclusive process which is built on the values and practices of dialogue. Taking a step further, the United Nations, in a unanimous resolution proclaimed 2001, as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. Through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there have been efforts to promote dialogue and understanding especially across cultures and civilizations, for instance, marking the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations, and marking 21 May every year as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. On the one hand, it celebrates the richness of the world’s cultures, and on the other hand, it underscores the crucial role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development in the world. Apart from this, there are many efforts made by the United Nations to promote various forms of dialogue such as “intergenerational dialogue”, “participatory dialogue”, “inclusive dialogue” and “social dialogue”.
Dialogue is more than reactive tool to an event of conflict. It has been used a way to create a shared space for diverse voices and cultures together and carve a shared present and future, and hence making it an important preventive tool for conflict. The salience of dialogue is increasing globally for these reasons.
In Nepal as the country becomes a federal, secular and republic, it is evident that differences have to be celebrated and conflicts that arise thereof, have to be dealt with constructively. Such differences and divergences can arise at the national, provincial and local community levels, and we see increasingly proliferation of dialogue as a peacebuilding tool.
Nepal Dialogues Initiative
Nepal Dialogues Initiative (NDI) is a collective of efforts made by dialogue practitioners towards furthering the culture of dialogue in Nepal, especially in the context of growing recognition of diversity and the need for intentional efforts to address conflict that might arise from these differences. NDI is a loose forum where organizations and individuals practicing dialogue have come together to harness the power of dialogue in Nepal by mutual exchange of knowledge, skills and resources related to dialogue and peacebuilding in Nepal.
Building on various efforts made previously to converge dialogue practices in Nepal, the NDI was inaugurated formally in 2021 at the Nepal Forum for Restorative Justice, which serves as the Secretariat of NDI and also hosts Nepal’s first-ever Dialogue Resources Center in Nepal. Since its inception, the NDI has been building resources (both knowledge products and human resources) through regular events such as workshops, trainings and conferences in areas related to dialogue and peacebuilding in Nepal. Nepal Dialogues Summit is its flagship event.
Nepal Dialogues Summit 2023
The Nepal Dialogues Initiatives organized the first Nepal Dialogues Summit on 19-20 December 2022 in Kathmandu as a way of connecting local, national and international peacebuilders in a shared space of mutual learning and inspiration. Themed “grassroots to global” (G2G), the 2022 Summit made linkages of the efforts made in the grassroots of Nepal’s peacebuilding work to the national and global levels. The chief guest of the event was Ms. Ouided Bouchamaoui, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2015 who shared deep insights on creating dialogic spaces by civil society when the nation faces a crisis of division. It also helped participants enhance their understanding about the use of dialogue vertically (local-regional-national) and horizontally (across various social, political and cultural issues).
Building on this momentum, NDI is organizing the second edition of Nepal Dialogues Summit on 20-21November 2023, the week which marks the signing of Comprehensive Peace Accord in Nepal. The purpose of the Summit is also to widen the scope of dialogue by engaging governmental and non-governmental stakeholders together and explore ways to integrate dialogue in their works.
One particular aspect of Nepal Dialogues Summit will be to bring the government actors to the fold of dialogue and mutually develop ways to integrate dialogue in the government’s peace governance mechanisms.
Some highlights of Nepal Dialogues Summit 2023:
- To be participated by more than 200 individuals from over 50 community-based and national organizations from all over Nepal
- Session with an international expert in peacebuilding from Asia, who will be a keynote speaker and she will share the space with national and grassroots dialogue workers of Nepal to co-create ways to scale dialogue bottom-up (‘grassroots to global’)
- Sessions with CSOs on building advocacy pathways for dialogue
- Sessions with Government of Nepal stakeholders on integrating dialogue
- Session on building competencies for intercultural dialogue in Nepal
The overall aim will be to foster the culture of dialogue in Nepal through shared efforts of government and non-government agencies.
 David Bohm, On Dialogue, (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2004)
 Resolution 53/243 A, entitled “Declaration on a Culture of Peace”
 See: https://untoday.org/the-significance-of-intergenerational-dialogue-in-the-global-landscape/
 See: https://www.undp.org/publications/role-inclusive-dialogue-preventing-violent-extremism