The Committee for Social Justice (CSJ) is an independent civic initiative of families of citizens that were subjected to enforced disappearance during the People’s War (1996-2006). CSJ was founded in 2007 to work and contribute on conflict transformation and social change in the aftermath of the People’s War. Its membership includes activists, social workers, teachers, journalist, lawyers and conflict victims. The group was initiated, coordinated and is led by Ram Kumar Bhandari whose father was illegally arrested by state forces on 31 Dec 2001. CSJ works on behalf of conflict victims, advocating for truth and justice and ensuring a family support network that includes civil society actors at the district level.
In Lamjung, CSJ made contacts within activists, lawyers, civil society actors, teachers, journalist, women groups to create a common platform on social issues, raising the voice of conflict victims families and organizing conflict affected peoples’ to advance their struggle for justice. In its earliest days CSJ worked closely with community radio stations, local groups and agencies working on conflict victims’ agendas, and later coordinated with Nepal Red Cross Society and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
From it’s earliest days CSJ also worked to extended its grassroots network to other regions of Nepal and work with other family associations such as Conflict Victims Committee Bardiya. In 2008, CSJ was also active in bringing various family members and district level family association together in a common platform to establish a western regional network called Pressure Group of Searching Disappeared Citizens. The pressure group helped strengthen family campaign and advance their rights struggle.
In 2008, Ram was awarded the Global Justicemakers Fellowship by International Bridges to Justice to further support CSJ’s role in educating locals on criminal justice system and advocacy work. With this fellowship, CSJ mobilized its local constituency and contacts to create a larger advocacy network across Nepal. In November 2009 the National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing (NEFAD) was formed, and CSJ played the role of secretariat. NEFAD’s focus is to work with families of the disappeared and closely coordinate with the ICRC to promote the disappearance agenda nationally.
In 2010, CSJ worked strategically to bring different conflict victims groups together and played a coordinating role to form a Solidarity Campaign for Justice (SOCAJ) a joint victims movement. After long years of volunteer engagement and informal structure, CSJ registered as a legal organization in February 2010 with the government of Nepal. As founding member of NEFAD and its secretariat, CSJ has been actively advocating on conflict victims issues and transitional justice advocacy at both the local and national levels. It has been coordinating with local agencies, national and international actors in the transitional justice sector, and has been active in conduct workshops, trainings, conferences and action research work.
In 2013, CSJ organized “building dialogue across Nepal victims” and hosted 5 regional and national coordination conferences that resulted in the formation of a common victims’ alliance platform based in Kathmandu. CSJ hosts the secretariat and coordinates more than 20 family associations, victims’ groups and rights activists.