Saarc: an Overview

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South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation
An Overview: Success and Failures

AN INTRODUCTION

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organisation of South Asian nations, which was established on 8 December 1985 when the government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka formally adopted its charter providing for the promotion of economic and social progress, cultural development within the South Asia region and also for friendship and cooperation with other developing countries.It is dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development of the member nations.

Its seven founding members are Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2007. Roughly covering a population of 1.47 billion SAARC is the largest regional organisation in the world.

HISTORY

The first concrete proposal for establishing a framework for regional cooperation in South Asia was made by the late president of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman, on May 2, 1980. Prior to this, the idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was discussed in at least three conferences: * The Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi in April 1947 * The Baguio Conference in the Philippines in May 1950

* The Colombo Powers Conference in April 1954.

In the late 1970s, SAARC nations agreed upon the creation of a trade bloc consisting of South Asian countries. The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was mooted in May 1980. This was followed by a meeting of the Committee of the Whole in Colombo in August-September, 1981. The Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) was endorsed in a Foreign Secretary meeting held at Dhaka in August 1982. The IPA identified eleven areas of cooperation – agriculture, communications, Education-culture-sports, environment and meteorology, health and population activities, prevention of drug trafficking and drug abuse, rural development, science and technology, tourism, transport, and women in development. The Foreign Ministers of South Asia, at their first meeting in New Delhi in August 1983, adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC) and formally launched the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) initially in five agreed areas of cooperation namely: * Agriculture

* RuralDevelopment
* Telecommunications
* Meteorology
* Health and Population Activities.
Other areas of cooperation like Sports, Arts and Culture, Planning and Development were included in the subsequent Summits and Meetings.

The Heads of State of Governmentadopted the Charter at their First SAARC Summit held in Dhaka on 7-8 December 1985 formally establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

OBJECTIVES AND PRINCIPLES ENVISAGED IN THE CHARTER

OBJECTIVES:

* To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia andto improve their quality of life. * To accelerate economic growth, social progress andcultural development in the region and to provide allindividuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential. * To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia. * To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems. * To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields. * To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries. * To strengthen cooperation among themselves ininternational forums on matters of common interests. * To cooperate with international and regionalorganisations with similar aims and purposes.

PRINCIPLES:

* Cooperation within the framework of the Association isbased on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and mutual...
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