SAARC Background

freedom. Sri Lanka. BHUTAN. PAKISTAN and SRI LANKA. Bhutan. i. Nepal. MALDIVES.e. territorial integrity. BangladeshIndia (Delhi/July 1983) to enhance regional cooperation. President Rahman addressed letters to the Heads of Government of the countries of South Asia. presenting his vision for the future of the region and the compelling arguments for regional cooperation in the context of evolving international realities. The next step of this process was the Foreign Ministers meeting in New Delhi in 1983 where they adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC). Maldives. Bangladesh. Bangladesh. interests and aspirations of the peoples of SOUTH ASIA and the need for joint action and enhanced cooperation within their respective political and economic systems and cultural traditions'” ‘Convinced that regional cooperation among the countries of SOUTH ASIA is . the Heads of State or Government of BANGLADESH. particularly respect for the principles of sovereign equality.South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Introduction The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises eight countries of South Asia. amity and progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of the UNITED NATIONS CHARTER and NONALIGNMENT. Preamble to the SAARC Charter The preamble to the SAARC Charter spells out the intention of forming this South Asian alliance as “We. national independence. Maldives. The Foreign Secretaries of seven countries in South Asia met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981 and identified five broad areas for regional cooperation. A series of meetings followed in Nepal (Kathmandu/November 1981). NEPAL. Pakistan. good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among the Member States which are bound by ties of history and culture’ 'Aware of the common problems. During the next two years South Asian nations committed themselves to form this South Asian alliance and the process culminated in the First SAARC Summit held on 7-8 December in 1985 in Dhaka where the Heads of State or Government of seven countries. the objectives of peace. Pakistan (Islamabad/August. 1982). The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was first mooted in May 1980 by Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman. non-use of force and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and peaceful settlement of all disputes’ 'Conscious that in an increasingly interdependent world. India. India. Nepal. Pakistan and Sri Lanka adopted the Charter formally establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 'Desirous of promoting peace. social justice and economic prosperity are best achieved in the SOUTH ASIAN region by fostering mutual understanding. Bhutan. Afghanistan. INDIA. stability.

and Regional Centres finalizing. approving of projects and programs. the Council of Ministers is responsible for formulating policies. Usually this Committee meets twice a year preceding the Council of Ministers and submits its reports to the Council of Ministers. The Council meets normally twice a year and may also meet in extraordinary sessions by agreement of Member States. (Article VII of the SAARC Charter). deciding on new areas of cooperation. establishing additional mechanisms as deemed necessary. determining inter-sectoral priorities. The Standing Committee is authorized to set up Action Committees comprising Member States concerned with implementation of projects involving more than two but less than seven Member States. determination of financial implications of sectoral programmes. mobilizing regional and external resources. Standing Committee The Standing Committee comprising the Foreign Secretaries of Member States is entrusted with the task of overall monitoring and coordination of programs. formulation of programmes and preparation of projects.Council of Ministers Comprising the Foreign Ministers of Member States. Technical Committees The SAARC Technical Committees are responsible for determination of the potential and the scope of regional cooperation in agreed areas. and the Calendar of Activities. It assists the Standing Committee in scrutinizing the Secretariat Budget. reviewing progress. implementation and coordination of sectoral programmes. Working Groups . considers the reports of the Technical Committees. and deciding on other matters of general interest to the Association. and identifying new areas of cooperation. SAARC Audio Visual Exchange (SAVE) Committee. formulation of recommendations regarding apportionment of costs. It may also meet in special session as and when necessary by agreement among Member States. and monitoring of progress in implementation. and modalities of financing. Programming Committee The Programming Committee (which is not a SAARC Charter body) comprises senior officials of member States.

Nepal. in1993. Committee on Economic Cooperation The Committee of Economic Cooperation consists of Secretaries of Commerce of member states and it promotes regional cooperation in the economic field. various Working Groups are established to consider specific issues and make recommendations to the appropriate SAARC bodies. The Secretariat coordinates and monitors implementation of activities. Currently five Working Groups are established in the areas of Telecommunications and ICT. and dispute settlement mechanisms. special and differential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs). who is appointed by the Council of Ministers from member countries in alphabetical order for a three-year term. the SAARC Member States signed the Agreement on SAARC Free Trade Area (SAFTA) on 6 January 2004 at the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad and came into force on 1 January 2006. Biotechnology. Sheel Kanta Sharma from India currently serves as the Secretary General of SAARC. The Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed in Dhaka during the 7th SAARC Summit. SAFTA has six core elements covering trade liberalization programme. prepares and services meetings. SAARC Summits since inception 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Dhaka Bangalore Katmandu Islamabad Male Colombo Dhaka New Delhi Bangladesh India Nepal Pakistan Maldives Sri Lanka Bangladesh India 7-8 December 1985 16-17 November 1986 2-4 Novemeber 1987 29-31 December 1988 21-23 November 1990 21 December 1991 10-11 April 1993 2-4 May 1995 . Later. SAARC Secretariat The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu. The Secretary General is assisted by Directors on deputation from Member States. institutional arrangements. Intellectual Property Rights and tourism. It aimes to promote and sustain mutual trade and the economic cooperation among the South Asian States. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General. rules of origin. and serves as a channel of communication between the Association and its Member States as well as other regional organizations.In addition to the Technical Committees. Dr. through exchanging concessions. safeguard measures. with the broad objective of moving towards a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU).

SAARC Regional Agenda The Agenda of Regional Cooperation under SAARC has expanded over the years and are broadly covered under the Regional Integrated Programme of Action (RIPA). This was the result of a series of discussions held between Member States for more than two years starting from very first SAARC Summit held in Dhaka. and providing welfare to the children. empowerment of women. human resource development.) SAARC Regional Convention of Suppression of Terrorism The SAARC Regional Convention of Suppression of Terrorism was signed during the Third SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 1987. has been a major development in SAARC. the Heads of States/Government recognized ‘poverty alleviation’ as . Later.. a number of issues are given high priority. At the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004.. improving health conditions of peoples. This Additional Protocol updates the Convention by adding terrorist financing and has been ratified by all Member States. << Previous >> Next SAARC Background(Contd. This Convention came into force on 22 August 1988.. The Social Charter aims at promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and accelerating economic growth and social progress through poverty alleviation. Although the Social Charter is not a binding document. it underpins the SAARC Charter objective of 'providing all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials'. In addition. an Additional Protocol to this Convention was signed during the 12th SAARC Summit in Islamabad on 06 January 2004.9 10 11 12 13 14 Male Colombo Katmandu Islamabad Dhaka New Delhi Maldives Sri Lanka Nepal Pakistan Bangladesh India 12-14 May 1997 29-31 July 1998 4-6 January 2002 2-6 January 2004 12-13 November 2005 3-4 April 2007 SAARC Social Charter The signing of the Social Charter by the Heads of State/ Government at the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004. This Convention recognizes dangers posed by the spread of terrorism and its harmful effects on peace & cooperation and also the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States.

it has proved to be effective in generating credibility about the SAARC process. It has entered into cooperative arrangements through the signing of MOUs with organizations like the EC. UNDP. SAARC designated years SAARC has designated years to draw special focus on specific social issues and has contributed to raising awareness. SAARC designated years 1989 Year of Combating Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking 1990 Year of Girl Child 1991 Year of Shelter 1992 Year of Environment . including professional bodies in the private sector. Co-operation with the International Organizations SAARC has established institutionalized arrangements for cooperation with a number of other regional groupings and international and regional organizations. SAARC has recently agreed with ASEAN Secretariat for a Partnership Work Plan (2004-2005) in a number of areas including trade. UNIFEM. APT. ESCAP. PTB. UNIFEM. SAARC has formulated a set of guidelines and procedures for granting recognition to regional NGOs and professional bodies. UNCTAD. UNAIDS. WHO. UNDCP. Although the Visa Scheme is yet to attain the depth and coverage of regional visa schemes like the Schengen visa. mobilizing resources and adopting/adapting national programs.the greatest challenge facing the peoples of South Asia and declared poverty alleviation as the overarching goal of all SAARC activities. World Bank etc. SAARC Charter Day The SAARC Secretariat and Member States observe 8th December as the SAARC Charter Day. CIDA. People to People Contacts Under the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme. ITU. UNICEF. SAARC has a dialogue forum with ASEAN and EU on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions. UNEP. HIV/AIDS. some specifically identified categories of persons along with their spouses and dependent children are entitled to travel within the SAARC region without visa. SAARC as an institution has always emphasized the need for strengthening people-topeople contacts through greater participation of NGOs. ADB. to promote socio-economic and cultural co-operation in South Asia. energy and tourism.

received recognition in May 1997 SAARC Cardiac Society. . received recognition in .South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA). . SAARC Decades 1991-2000 Decade of the Girl Child 2001-2010 Decade of the Rights of the Chil SAARC Regional apex bodies The following professional / trade bodies have been granted recognition by SAARC on the given dates: . received recognition in January 2002 Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FSWL).1993 Year of Disabled persons 1994 Year of the Youth 1995 Year of Poverty Alleviation 1996 Year of Literacy 1997 Year of Participatory Governance 1999 Year of Biodiversity 2002-2003 Year of Contribution of Youth to Environment 2004 Year of Awareness for TB & HIV/AIDS 2006 South Asia Tourism Year SAARC has also declared decades on specialized themes. received recognition in July 1994 .South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects (SAARCH). received recognition in May 1997 .SAARC LAW – consists of members of the legal profession of the SAARC Countries. received recognition in July 1998 (Head Quarters in Dhaka) SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum (SDEF). received recognition in May 1997.Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA). received recognition in January 2002 SAARC Teachers’ Federation (STF). received recognition in May 1997.SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).SAARC Federation of University Women (SAARCFUW). received recognition in December 1992 .

saarc-sic. received recognition in January 2002 -Radiological Society of SAARC Countries (RSSC). received recognition in January 2002 .org The Official website of SAARC Information Centre at www. received recognition in January 2002 South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA).SAARC Surgical Care Society (SSCS).org << Previous <<< First .saarc-sec.August 2004 For more information vist. The Official website of the SAARC Secretariat at www.January 2002 Federation of State Insurance Organizations of SAARC Countries (FSIO).

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