Since 1996, Nepal has increasingly been drawn into a violent conflict between Maoist rebels and the state, leading to a severe crisis. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and most people in the countryside live in constant fear. Economic hardship has seriously increased. Despite repeated efforts to bring the parties together for peace talks, there is little hope that the violent situation will be resolved in the near future. This article analyzes the complex causes of the emergence of the Maoist insurrection and its success, and sketches the problems impeding a democratic solution to the current situation.