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George Varughese, Niti Foundation

Tue 5 March 2019

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


In the last two decades Nepal and Afghanistan have undergone significant governance transitions, drafting and implementing ambitious new constitutions in the wake of civil conflict.  In this talk, George Varughese will reflect on 25 years of personal involvement as a development practitioner in these countries, with an emphasis on recent Nepal experiences. While in both contexts, deliberative spaces were created to facilitate transitions in governance regimes, the subsequent constitutional and legal/regulatory scaffolding for state restructuring reflect minimal deliberation and public engagement. The formal and informal elite interests that captured these spaces continue to constrain the countries’ constitutional and democratic development in order to maintain impunity and extract rent. In this light, the talk will highlight challenges in supporting the publicness of policy making in Nepal, focusing on the need for the practical choices in transforming the country’s political and legal institutions, which is necessary for durable deliberative discourse to inhere in public life.

About the speaker

George Varughese is Senior Advisor for Niti Foundation and convenes its Strategic Advisory Group that makes broadly available analysis, guidance, and recommendations for implementing federalism in Nepal. George has 24 years of experience in international development and academia, with expertise in thought leadership/facilitation in governance with a political economy & conflict specialization and skills in strategic analysis & advice, fundraising, program design & delivery, and policy development & navigation. Most recently, George represented The Asia Foundation in Nepal (2009-2018) and Afghanistan (2005-2009), managing programs on transitional political processes and constitutional development; capacity-building initiatives in the center of government; subnational governance; conflict-transformation and peace building; women’s advancement & security; and public education and discourse on democratic political processes and rule of law. He has also provided technical assistance in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste. George is interested and involved in the institutional design of partnerships between local communities, private sector, and government officials, particularly on post-conflict development management, peacebuilding, local governance, and civic engagement. Most recently, George delivered the 2017 Howard Baker Distinguished Lecture in International Security and Development at the University of Tennessee and published “Development aid architecture and the conditions for peacebuilding and human rights in conflict-affected areas: Does the framework fit the purpose?” in Journal of Human Rights Practice (Special Issue on Human Rights and Peacebuilding, 2017, pp. 1-12). He was 2015-16 Excellence Chair and Professor in Global and Area Studies at the University of Wyoming, 2010 Senior Visiting Fellow of The Australian National University's Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, and 2008 Senior International Fellow of the City University of New York's Graduate Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society. He holds a Joint Ph.D. in Political Science & Public Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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