Mr. LEACH. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 1051) expressing support for democracy in Nepal that will require the full participation of the people of Nepal in the political process to hold elections for a constituent assembly and draft a new constitution and calling upon the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist to adhere to commitments it has made and to respect human rights, as amended.
Mr. LEACH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, as we all understand, this body is composed of 435 Members, and one of the unique features of membership is everyone brings a different background. It has been my experience here that the Members that have some of the most helpful backgrounds possible are those that have served in the United States Peace Corps, and this applies both to knowledge of the area of the world that they may have served, but also just in general. Every Peace Corps volunteer that I have known that has served
in this body has been of exemplary character and compassion.
Symbolic of it all is the gentleman from New York, Mr. Walsh, one of our most decent, thoughtful Members, who served in Nepal, whose leadership on this issue and whose introduction of this bill is so much appreciated by this body.
Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to my good friend, the gentleman from New York, JIM WALSH.
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Hyde, Chairman LEACH and Ranking Member Lantos for their great service to this country while serving on the International Relations Committee. They bring great honor to this House in their knowledge and the thoughtful approach they bring to our foreign policy, and I am very grateful to them for allowing this resolution to come before the House this evening. Let me thank also the entire International Relations Committee
and staff for all the hard work and effort in getting this important resolution to the floor.
It is such a critical time for this beautiful little country in Asia, Nepal. The timing of this resolution could not be more appropriate. The Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal just signed a comprehensive peace agreement on November 21, bringing an end to the 11-year people's war which has claimed over 13,000 lives.
The 11-page historic document was signed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on behalf of the Nepal Government and Maoist Chairman Prachanda on behalf of his party. This ten-point agreement came after a number of earlier understandings and agreements between the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists.
The agreement states that ``After the Nepali Army is confined to barracks and the Maoist combatants to cantonments, possession and exhibition of arms, intimidation, and use of violence and weapons in any form shall be punishable by law.''
The agreement bars the government and the Maoists from recruiting soldiers, smuggling or transporting weapons and explosives, carrying out violent activities against each other, intimidating any person and destroying private property or public property. The agreement states no one is allowed to move about or participate in mass meetings and rallies with any type of arms.
The popular uprising for peace and democracy in April was historic. The will of the people of Nepal is what made the agreements of recent weeks between the government and the Maoists possible, and I am hopeful that those agreements will move Nepal further along the path to lasting peace and democracy.
The progress to date is commendable and there is cause for optimism, but there is much work to be done. Agreements are worth little if they go unimplemented, and the Maoists in particular continue to engage in behavior that calls into question their commitment to non-violence and multiparty democracy.
As Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said during his recent visit to Nepal, ``You don't walk into Parliament with a gun in your pocket.'' I again call upon the Maoists and their Chairman Prachanda to permanently end violence, to submit to the rule of law and to compete on an even playing field with Nepal's political parties for a contest of ideas to seek the votes of the Nepalese people in free and fair elections.
There is no place in a democracy for private armies. The parties of Nepal have requested U.N. assistance in monitoring adherence to the peace agreements, particularly the restriction of arms and armies. I welcome that request and the U.N.'s involvement, and I strongly support a robust U.N. monitoring mission in Nepal for the upcoming elections.
I am pleased and encouraged by these developments. The Nepalese people have spoken and expressed their will to have their voices heard. It is time for the political leaders to acknowledge their wishes and fully carry them out.
Mr. Speaker, again it gives me great pleasure to stand before you today to give praise to this historic comprehensive peace agreement as the framework for peace in Nepal and recognize the remarkable progress that has been [Page: H8860]
achieved by all. Nepal can hopefully now travel down the path of peace, stability and prosperity.
I commend the efforts of the leaders of that nation who focused on the greater good of the people of Nepal, and I urge them to continue to move forward.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy in permitting me to speak on this and his leadership in bringing it forward with my friend and colleague, the chairman of our subcommittee.
Mr. Speaker, oftentimes there is so much work that transpires in the course of the International Relations Committee dealing with things that are too far removed from the world's viewpoint at any given time.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague from New York introducing this legislation. He brings to this debate the experience of somebody who not only was a Peace Corps volunteer years ago, but continues his interest and concern, although not a member of the committee, somebody who has repeatedly brought his attention and expertise and interest. And that is what I think is the strength of what we can do in this Chamber: having the strength that comes from people who have the experience, the concern,
use this platform to be able to focus the attention in this country and around the world on these things that seemingly are minor on the world stage. But given the devastation that has been incurred on this small country, the loss of life, the upset, the loss of progress, being able to look at an opportunity like this, it is not just for Nepal, but it seems to me it is a demonstration of taking some of these intractable issues around the world and indicate that there are opportunities for hope.
I just appreciate Congressman Walsh bringing this forward. I know he has had some other experience in the past looking at other modest conundrums, like in Northern Ireland, where his follow-through and his commitment makes a difference, and it is part of the richness of the experience here in foreign affairs.
I hope that this is something as we move forward to a new session, that we will be able to keep the focus, the direction and the attention, because coming out of what we see in Iraq, we are going to need more than ever opportunities to find areas of agreement and to reinforce the positive aspects of diplomacy.
I appreciate again the opportunity to speak in support of this and strongly urge my colleagues to not just support this, but this is something where people think about ways that they can help spread this word for this important work.