The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was launched and its first meeting was held on 7–8 December 1985 in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It is a group of 8 countries in South Asia whose main objective of Establishment is to improve the quality of life and promote the welfare of the people living in South Asia.
Along with this, its main objectives are to accelerate development in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields and to take steps to make all the developing countries of South Asia self-reliant and strong. SAARC with all its objectives to fight the problem of terrorism and also provide participation to women at the regional level. To fulfil all its objectives, the member countries of SAARC unanimously take decisions at all levels.
What is SAARC?
The ‘South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)’ and is called ‘The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’. SAARC was established on 8 December 1985 by signing the SAARC Charter in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Main Secretariat of SAARC was established on 17 January 1987 in Kathmandu. It was established jointly by 7 countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Later- Afghanistan also joined it. Let us tell you that Afghanistan got membership in SAARC in 2007. During that time the 14th meeting of SAARC was organized in Delhi, the capital of India.
Main objectives of SAARC
SAARC has always had the same goal of promoting economic and cultural development along with social progress in all regions of South Asia. All the objectives of SAARC are defined in its charter-
- The main objective of SAARC is to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and improve their quality of life.
- All individuals have to live with dignity and realize their potential. Along with this, steps have to be taken towards development by providing opportunities in economic, social and cultural fields.
- To promote self-reliance among the southern countries and strengthen themselves.
- To cooperate in solving each other’s problems with mutual trust and understanding.
- To further strengthen cooperation with other developing countries.
Structure and Process of SAARC
SAARC is structured on 5 principles which are as follows – sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, and non-interference in the internal affairs of member states and focuses on mutual benefit.
- The SAARC summit is organized annually and the country hosting the summit is the chairman of the organization. Every year a different country gets the chairmanship of SAARC.
- SAARC member countries are seen as complementary to bilateral and multilateral relations.
- All decisions are taken on the basis of consensus.
- Apart from its 8 core members, there are nine proxy states that attend the SAARC summits held every year.
- These nine Prakash members include China, the US, Myanmar, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mauritius and the European Union.
SAARC Cooperation Areas
Let us know about the cooperation areas of SAARC-
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Education and Culture
- Economics, Business & Finance
- Science and technology
- Information, Communication and Media
- Poverty alleviation
- Security factor
- People-to-people contact
- Funding mechanism
- Social development
Cooperation under the framework of SAARC will be based on the following principles:
- To respect the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and mutual benefit.
- This type of regional cooperation will not be a substitute for other bilateral and multilateral Cooperation but will be a complement to it.
- Such regional cooperation shall not be inconsistent with other bilateral and multilateral obligations.
- major organs
- meeting of heads of state or government
- These meetings are usually held at the summit level on an annual basis.
- Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries
- The committee provides overall oversight and coordination, sets priorities, organizes resources, and approves projects and funding.
The SAARC Secretariat was established on 16 January 1987 in Kathmandu. The role of this secretariat is to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the activities of the organization, and services related to the meetings of the association, and to act as a communication channel between international organizations and SAARC.
Its secretariat consists of a general secretary, seven directors and general service staff. The Secretary-General is appointed by the Council of Ministers on a rotation basis for three years.
Specialized bodies of SAARC
SAARC Development Fund (SDF)
- Its primary objective is to finance cooperation-based projects in the social sector such as poverty alleviation, development etc.
- The SDF is governed by a board composed of representatives from the finance ministries of the member countries. The Governing Council of the SDF (MSc Finance Minister) oversees the affairs of the Board.
South Asian University
- South Asian University is an international university located in India. DEGREE AND CERTIFICATE AWARDED BY SOUTH
- ASIAN UNIVERSITY NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OR INSTITUTION
Similar to the respective degree and certificate awarded.
South Asian Regional Standards Organization
- The Secretariat of the South Asian Regional Standards Organization is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- It was established to achieve and increase coordination and cooperation among the member countries of SAARC in the field of Standardization and Conformity assessment. Its goal is to develop harmonized standards to facilitate global market access and intra-regional trade.
SAARC Arbitration Council
It is an inter-governmental body established in Pakistan. It provides a legal forum for fair and efficient settlement of commercial, industrial, trading, banking, investment and other such related disputes.
SAARC and its importance
- The area of SAARC member countries is 3% of the world’s area and 21% of the total population of the world lives in SAARC countries the share of SAARC countries in the global economy is 3.8% ie 2.9 trillion US dollars.
- Coordination: It is the most densely populated region of the world as well as one of the most important fertile regions. Traditions, clothing, food and cultural and political aspects are almost similar in SAARC countries, which is beneficial in establishing coordination or cooperation in their work.
- Common Solutions: Common problems and issues exist in the member countries of SAARC such as poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural calamities, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and low socio-economic status. Therefore, by creating common areas of development and solving the problems coming in the development process By doing they can raise their standard of living.
Achievements of SAARC
- Free Trade Area: SAARC is a relatively new organization in the global arena. The member countries of SAARC have established a Free Trade Area (FTA) as a result of which their internal trade will increase and the trade gap of some countries will decrease comparatively.
- SAPTA: South Asia Preferential Trading Agreement was done in the year 1995 to encourage trade Among the member countries of SAARC.
- The free trade agreement is limited to goods only, excluding all services such as information technology. The agreement was signed to reduce customs duties on all traded goods by the year 2016.
- SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS): SATIS is following GATS-plus ‘positive list’ approach to trade in services Liberalisation.
- SAARC University: A SAARC University in India and Food Bank and an Energy Reserve in Pakistan were also established.
- Lack of meetings: There is a need for more agreements to be signed between the member countries of SAARC, as well as there is a need to organize a bilateral conference of these member countries annually in addition to the conference.
- The wide coordination area also leads to changes in energy and resources.
- Limitations of SAFTA: The implementation of SAFTA has not been satisfactory and this free trade agreement has been limited to Goods except for all services like information technology.
- Indo-Pak Relations: The increasing tension and conflict between India and Pakistan have reduced the potential of SAARC.
In a region where Chinese investment and credit have grown rapidly, SAARC can resist trade tariffs while also offering a more sustainable option for development. In addition, it can serve as a common platform for demanding better conditions for workers in the South Asian region around the world.
SAARC is an organization that reflects the identity of South Asian countries historically and contemporary. It is a naturally formed geographical feature. The culture, language and religious ties here define South Asia equally.
The organization’s potential should be explored by all member countries to maintain peace and stability in the region.
SAARC should be allowed to grow naturally and the people of South Asia, which account for one-fourth of the world’s population, should be offered more people-to-people contact.
Past and future SAARC conferences
- The first SAARC summit was held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on December 7, 1985.
- The then King Birendra participated in the summit on behalf of Nepal. In the first conference, it was decided to formally establish SAARC, ratify the SAARC Charter, agree not to raise bilateral disputes, and hold the second SAARC Summit in Bangalore, India.
- The second summit of SAARC was held in Bengaluru, India on November 17 and 18, 1986.
- King Birendra represented Nepal. It was decided In this conference to keep the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal and to appoint the Secretary-General from each SAARC country based on the English alphabet.
- The 3rd SAARC summit was held in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, from November 2 to November 4, 1987, with the participation of the then King Birendra.
- That third SAARC summit decided to establish the SAARC stockpile, suppress terrorism, sign a regional convention, and establish SAARC Agriculture Information Branch and Climate Science Branch in Dhaka and New Delhi respectively.
- The fourth summit of SAARC was held in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, represented by King Birendra of Nepal, from December 29 to December 31, 1988.
- The fifth SAARC summit was held in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, from November 21 to November 23, 1990, represented by the then Prime Minister of Nepal, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai.
- The summit decided to observe 1991 as the SAARC Year of Housing, 1992 as the SAARC Year of the Environment and 1993 as the SAARC Year of the Disabled, 1991 to 2000 as the SAARC Decade of the Girl Child.
- The sixth summit of SAARC was held on December 31, 1991, in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
- The Sixth SAARC Summit issued a declaration on the establishment of the South Asian Poverty Alleviation Commission with the aim of eradicating poverty, which is the enemy of the common people of South Asia, to provide universal housing for all by the year 2000, establishing an environmental committee to maintain environmental purity, and to increase institutional cooperation in the field of biotechnology. Had decided.
- Similarly, the Seventh SAARC Summit was held on April 10 and 11, 1993, in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, with the participation of the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on behalf of Nepal.
- The Eighth Summit of SAARC was held in New Delhi, the capital of India, in the presence of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari on behalf of Nepal from the 2nd to the 4th of May, 1995.
- In this eighth summit, important decisions were made such as celebrating the year 1996 as the SAARC Literacy Year and celebrating the year 1995 as the SAARC Poverty Eradication Year.
- From May 12 to 14, 1997, the ninth summit of SAARC was held in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives.
- The conference, which was attended by then Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand on behalf of Nepal, agreed to negotiate the third phase of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, as well as the historic India-Pakistan talks by 2001, emphasizing the concept of diverse trade areas in South Asian countries, investment protection and increasing industrial and trade facilities among SAARC member countries. By agreeing to do special work for the SAARC countries, there were decisions such as the commitment to maintain direct air communication and the tenure of the Secretary General of SAARC for 3 years without extension.
- One year after the completion of the Ninth Summit of the Sharks, in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, on July 29-31, 1998, the representation of Nepal by the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was completed with important decisions such as transforming the South Asian Facilitated Trade (SAPTA) into the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAPTA). If it happened
- The eleventh summit of SAARC was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 5-6, 2002 with various decisions represented by Sher Bahadur Deuba on behalf of Nepal.
- Similarly, the twelfth summit of SAARC was held on January 4-6, 2004 in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
- Surya Bahadur Thapa represented Nepal at this conference.
- A year after the Twelfth SAARC Summit, the Thirteenth SAARC Summit was held on November 12-13.
- The fourteenth summit was held on April 3-4, 2007.
- From this conference, Afghanistan was added to the seven countries of SAARC, making it eight countries.
- Similarly, the 15th SAARC Summit was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Girija Prasad from Nepal participated in it.
- Madhav Kumar Nepal participated on behalf of Nepal in the sixteenth SAARC summit held on April 28-29, 2010.
- Similarly, the 17th SAARC Summit was held at Addu Atoll in Maldives.
- The then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai participated in this conference on behalf of Nepal.
- The eighteenth summit of SAARC nations was held in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on November 27 and 28, 2014, i.e. On November 10 and 11.