SAARC - Introduction The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance. The 11 stated areas of cooperation are agriculture; education, culture, and sports; health, population, and child welfare; the environment and meteorology; rural development (including the SAARC Youth Volunteers Program); tourism; transport; science and technology; communications It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.
MEMBERS OF SAARC INDIA BHUTAN PAKISTAN NEPAL BANGLADESH MALDIVES SRI LANKA AFGANISTANIts seven founding members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, theMaldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joinedlater on 3rd April, 2007
SAARC Secretariat The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It coordinates and monitors implementation of activities, prepares for and services meetings, and serves as a channel of communication between the Association and its Member States as well as other regional organisations. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed from Maldives is the current Secretary General. The Secretary General is assisted by eight Directors on deputation from the Member States. The SAARC Secretariat and Member States observe 8 December as the SAARC Charter Day.
OBJECTIVES OF SAARC Promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life. Accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential. Promoting and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia. Contributing to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one anothers problems. Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields. Strengthening cooperation with other developing countries; Strengthening cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest .
OBSERVERS AUSTRALIA CHINA EUROPEAN UNION JAPAN IRAN MAURITIUS MYNAMAR SOUTH KOREA Members States Observers States
FUTURE MEMBERS China has shown interest in joining SAARC . While Pakistan & Bangladesh support china’s candidature ,India strongly opposes it. Indonesia supported by Sri Lanka intends to become a observer of SAARC. Myanmar has expressed it’s desire to become a full time member of SAARC. Myanmar’s military regime officially applied for full SAARC membership in May 2008. However, the application is still being considered and the government is currently restricted to observer status. Russia intends to become an observer as well, and is supported by India Iran because of it’s strong cultural, economic and political relationships with Afghanistan and Pakistan and has expressed its desire to become a member of the South Asian organization.
SAARC SUBMITSNo Date Country Host Host leader 7–8 Ataur1st December Bangladesh Dhaka Rahman 1985 Khan 16–172nd November India Bangalore Rajiv Gandhi 1986 2–4 Marich Man3rd November Nepal Kathmandu Singh 1987 Shrestha 29–31 Benazir4th December Pakistan Islamabad Bhutto 1988 21–23 Maumoon5th November Maldives Malé Abdul 1990 Gayoom
21 Dingiri Sri6th Decembe Colombo Banda Lanka r 1991 Wijetunge 10-117th April Banglades Dhaka Khaleda Zia 1993 h P. V. 2–4 May8th India New Delhi Narasimha 1995 Rao Maumoon 12–149th Maldives Malé Abdul May 1997 Gayoom Sirimavo Ratwatte10t 29–31 Sri Colombo Diash July 1998 Lanka Bandaranaik e 4–6 Sher11t Kathmand January Nepal Bahadurh u 2002 Deuba
Zafarullah Khan12th 2–6 January 2004 Pakistan Islamabad Jamali 12–13 November13th Bangladesh Dhaka Khaleda Zia 2005 Manmohan14th 3–4 April 2007 India New Delhi Singh Ratnasiri15th 1–3 August 2008 Sri Lanka Colombo Wickremanayake16th 28–29 April 2010 Bhutan Thimphu Jigme Thinley November 2011 Mohamed17th Maldives Addu (Planned) Nasheed
SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA)• The Agreement on SAARC Preferential TradingArrangement (SAPTA) was signed on 11 April 1993 topromote and sustain mutual trade and economiccooperation within the SAARC region through the exchangeof concessions. The basic principles underlying SAPTA are: Overall reciprocity and mutuality of advantages. Trade reform. Preferential measures in favour of Least Developed Contracting States. Inclusion of all products, manufactures and commodities in their raw, semi-processed and processed forms.
South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)•The Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area was reachedat the 12th SAARC summit at Islamabad, Pakistan.•It creates a framework for the creation of a free trade areacovering 1.6 billion people in the region.•Zero customs duty on the trade of practically all products in theregion by the end of 2016.•India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to bring their duties down to 20% inthe first phase of the two-year period ending in 2007. In the finalfive-year phase ending 2012, the 20% will be reduced to zero in aseries of annual cuts.•Least developed countries to get an additional 3 years
New challenges•Climate change: The SAARC leaders adopted Thimphu Statement on ClimateChange in the Sixteenth Summit. It has been said that the SAARC countries aremore vulnerable to climate change. This included cooperation in the field ofenvironment and sustainable development through exchange of best practicesand knowledge, capacity building and transfer of eco-friendly technology in awide range of areas related to the environment.•Poverty: The leaders emphasised on deepening regional efforts on povertyalleviation, the overarching objective of SAARC. They called for the expeditiousmainstreaming of the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) in the nationalprocesses and completion of the Mid-term Review of the SDGs as scheduled.•Terrorism: In SAARC Home Ministers meeting called for a comprehensiveregional strategy to fight against terrorism. To combat the complex terroristthreat pattern, the ministers have acknowledged the need for collaborationamong countries on border security mutual legal assistance, and lawenforcement.
WHY SAARC HAS FAILED TO ACHIEVE MOST OF ITS OBJECTIVES•Policy of non-interferenceArticle II clearly states, “Cooperation within the framework of the Association shall bebased on… non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and mutual benefit.”It strictly limits the member nation’s ability to push an agenda if there is anyopposition .The biggest example of the stagnation was during the Kargil War (1999). SAARC couldhave taken a decisive step to resolve the dispute. But it did not. It is one of thenumerous incidents of security violations across the region.•Political deadlockDespite several promises to resolve the political differences among the member states,those especially between India and Pakistan continue and have stalled progress onmany projects including the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). According to Yaswant Sinha, former External Affairs Minister, despite an initiative byformer Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2004 in Islamabad, SAFTA hadremained inactive till date because Pakistan refused to give India an MFN (mostfavoured nation) status. If operative, it would allow the free movement of people,goods, services and ideas.
• Geopolitical equation mattersMost of the decisions taken in SAARC depend moreon geopolitical equations rather than cooperation oncertain issues. For Example:- 1. India tries to keep China away from the organisationwhile the critics say that the mere observer status ofChina limits the scope of SAARC opportunities. 2. Another such example is India’s push for the fullmembership of Myanmar and Iran who have observerstatus at present. One can easily assume that the pushis because of the rising oil demand in India. Butexperts say that it could foment diplomatic disputeswith the EU and the US for several reasons.