SAARC Background

national independence.South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Introduction The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises eight countries of South Asia. good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among the Member States which are bound by ties of history and culture’ 'Aware of the common problems. stability. 1982). amity and progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of the UNITED NATIONS CHARTER and NONALIGNMENT. India. 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).e. Pakistan (Islamabad/August. BHUTAN. freedom. the objectives of peace. 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 . Preamble to the SAARC Charter The preamble to the SAARC Charter spells out the intention of forming this South Asian alliance as “We. 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. Nepal. 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. 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. Bangladesh. Sri Lanka. presenting his vision for the future of the region and the compelling arguments for regional cooperation in the context of evolving international realities. PAKISTAN and SRI LANKA. NEPAL. India. Pakistan and Sri Lanka adopted the Charter formally establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Pakistan. 'Desirous of promoting peace. The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was first mooted in May 1980 by Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman. A series of meetings followed in Nepal (Kathmandu/November 1981). Bhutan. i. Afghanistan. Maldives. Maldives. Bhutan. territorial integrity. MALDIVES. Nepal. BangladeshIndia (Delhi/July 1983) to enhance regional cooperation. INDIA. social justice and economic prosperity are best achieved in the SOUTH ASIAN region by fostering mutual understanding. Bangladesh. particularly respect for the principles of sovereign equality. the Heads of State or Government of BANGLADESH. President Rahman addressed letters to the Heads of Government of the countries of South Asia.

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

who is appointed by the Council of Ministers from member countries in alphabetical order for a three-year term.In addition to the Technical Committees. 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. It aimes to promote and sustain mutual trade and the economic cooperation among the South Asian States. Later. in1993. special and differential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs). through exchanging concessions. 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. Intellectual Property Rights and tourism. with the broad objective of moving towards a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU). 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 . various Working Groups are established to consider specific issues and make recommendations to the appropriate SAARC bodies. SAARC Secretariat The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu. The Secretariat coordinates and monitors implementation of activities. and serves as a channel of communication between the Association and its Member States as well as other regional organizations. SAFTA has six core elements covering trade liberalization programme. Biotechnology. Nepal. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General. prepares and services meetings. Sheel Kanta Sharma from India currently serves as the Secretary General of SAARC. institutional arrangements. safeguard measures. The Secretary General is assisted by Directors on deputation from Member States. The Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed in Dhaka during the 7th SAARC Summit. rules of origin. Dr. Currently five Working Groups are established in the areas of Telecommunications and ICT. and dispute settlement mechanisms.

the Heads of States/Government recognized ‘poverty alleviation’ as . Although the Social Charter is not a binding document. improving health conditions of peoples. 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.. it underpins the SAARC Charter objective of 'providing all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials'. human resource development. 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). a number of issues are given high priority. The Social Charter aims at promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and accelerating economic growth and social progress through poverty alleviation. Later. This Convention came into force on 22 August 1988. has been a major development in SAARC. At the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004... This Additional Protocol updates the Convention by adding terrorist financing and has been ratified by all Member States. and providing welfare to the children. empowerment of women. 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.) 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. 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. << Previous >> Next SAARC Background(Contd. In addition.

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

received recognition in July 1998 (Head Quarters in Dhaka) SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum (SDEF). received recognition in December 1992 . received recognition in January 2002 Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FSWL). received recognition in May 1997 SAARC Cardiac Society. .South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects (SAARCH). received recognition in May 1997 . received recognition in January 2002 SAARC Teachers’ Federation (STF). 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: .South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA). received recognition in .SAARC Federation of University Women (SAARCFUW).Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA).SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).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 . received recognition in May 1997.SAARC LAW – consists of members of the legal profession of the SAARC Countries. received recognition in May 1997.

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