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The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

is an economic and geopolitical organisation of eight countries that are
primarily located in South Asia or the Indian subcontinent The SAARC
Secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The combined economy of
SAARC is the 3rd largest in the world in the terms of GDP(PPP) after the
United States and China and 5th largest in the terms of nominal GDP.
SAARC nations comprise 3% of the world's area and contain 21% (around
1.7 billion) of the world's total population and around 9.12% of Global
economy as of 2015. SAARC also home to world's 3rd & 7th largest
Economy of world in GPP(PPP) & GDP(Nominal) terms respectively as
well as World's fastest growing major Economy, that is India. India makes
up over 70% of the area and population among these eight nations. All nonIndian member states shares borders with India. During 2005-10, the
average GDP growth rate of SAARC stood at an impressive 8.8% p.a., but it
slowed to 6.5% in 2011 largely because of economic slowdown in India,
which accounts for nearly 80% of SAARC's economy. But driven by a
strong expansion in India, coupled with favorable oil prices,from the last
quarter of 2014 South Asia once again become the fastest-growing region in
the world. As of 2015 foreign exchange reserves of SAARC nations stands
at USD 411 billion
The idea of regional political and economical cooperation in South
Asia was first raised in 2 May 1980 by Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman
and the first summit was held in Dhaka on 8 December 1985, when the

organisation was established by the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan,

India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka Since then the organisation
has expanded by accepting one new full member, Afghanistan and several
observer members.
The SAARC policies aim to promote welfare economics, collective
self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate sociocultural development in the region. The SAARC has developed external
relations by establishing permanent diplomatic relations with the EU, the
UN (as an observer), and other multilateral entities. The official meetings of
the leaders of each nation are held annually whilst the foreign ministers meet
twice annually. The 18th SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu from 26
27 November 2014.
In its Twentieth Special Session held in June 1998, the UN General
Assembly identified precursorcontrol as one of the important areas requiring
a time-bound action. A number of specific goalswere set for the years 2003
and 2008. All the SAARC Countries covered by the UNODCRegional
Precursor Control Project for SAARC Countries are parties to the 1988 UN
ConventionAgainst Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic
Substances.The UNODC Regional Precursor Control Project for SAARC
Countries, in close cooperationwith the UNODC Country Office in Pakistan
and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, organised a twoday seminar on 03-04 August 2004 to:
Review the progress made so far and assess whether the same was
satisfactory; andif not, what were the reasons; and


Make recommendations on what the project countries and Regional

Precursor Control Project need to do in order to ensure that UNGASS
goals are achieved by the year2008.
During the two-day seminar the project countries reviewed the progress
made by each countryin fulfilling the commitments made under the
UNGASS in respect of control of precursors andmade recommendations to
achieve the objectives set out by UNGASS.
Participants from each country presented a country paper highlighting the
status of implementationof UNGASS goals with respect to control of
precursors in their respective countries.
The current situation in respect of each of the targets set by the UNGASS
for precursor controlwas examined and a country-by-country profile was
prepared. These profiles were then discussedin the plenary and amendments
were made so as to reflect an accurate picture of the situation.In this way, all
the countries also had the benefit of knowing the status of precursor
controlin the SAARC region. During the seminar, the participants split into
two working groups withone participant from each country in each of the
two groups.
The first group took stock of the progress made in the region in:
1. establishing legislative measures;
2. data collection; and
3. action in respect of substitute chemicals.
The second group took stock of the progress made in the region in:
1. enhancing international cooperation in precursor control; and
2. ensuring rapid exchange of information between importing and
exporting countries


The two groups also identified and recommended ways and means to
accomplish the aforesaidgoals. All participants met again in a plenary
session in which the reports of the working groupswere discussed and action
plan worked out for future.

The idea of co-operation in South Asia was discussed in at least three
conferences: the Asian Relations Conference held in New Delhi on April
1947; the Baguio Conference in the Philippines on May 1950; and the
Colombo Powers Conference held in Sri Lanka in April 1954.
In the ending years of the 1970s, the seven inner South Asian nations
that included Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri
Lanka agreed upon the creation of a trade bloc and to provide a platform for
the people of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and
understanding. President ZiaurRahman later addressed official letters to the
leaders of the countries of the South Asia, presenting his vision for the future
of the region and the compelling arguments for region. During his visit to
India in December 1977, President ZiaurRahman discussed the issue of
regional cooperation with the then Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai. In
the inaugural speech to the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee which
met in Kathmandu also in 1977, King Birendra of Nepal gave a call for close
regional cooperation among South Asian countries in sharing river waters.
After the USSR's intervention in Afghanistan, the efforts to established the
union was accelerated in 1979 and the resulting rapid deterioration of South

Asian security situation. Responding to the President ZiaurRahman and King

Birendra's convention, the officials of the foreign ministries of the seven
countries met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981. The Bangladesh's
proposal was promptly endorsed by Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the
Maldives but India and Pakistan were sceptical initially. The Indian concern
was the proposals reference to the security matters in South Asia and feared
that President Zia Rehman's proposal for a regional organisation might
provide an opportunity for new smaller neighbours to renationalised all
bilateral issues and to join with each other to gang up against India. Pakistan
assumed that it might be an Indian strategy to organise the other South Asian
countries against Pakistan and ensure a regional market for Indian products,
thereby consolidating and further strengthening Indias economic dominance
in the region.
However, after a series of quiet diplomatic consultations between
South Asian foreign ministers at the UN headquarters in New York from
August to September 1980, it was agreed that Bangladesh would prepare the
draft of a working paper for discussion among the foreign secretaries of
South Asian countries. The foreign secretaries of the inner seven countries
again delegated a Committee of the Whole in Colombo on September 1981,
which identified five broad areas for regional cooperation. New areas of cooperation were added in the following years.
In 1983, the international conference held by Indian Minister of
External AffairsP.V. NarasimhaRao in New Delhi, the foreign ministers of
the inner seven countries adopted the Declaration on South Asian
Association Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and formally launched the
Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) initially in five agreed areas of

cooperation namely, Agriculture; Rural Development; Telecommunications;

Meteorology; and Health and Population Activities.
Officially, the union was established in Dhaka with Kathmandu being
union's secretariat-general. The first SAARC summit was held in Dhaka on
78 December 1985 and hosted by the President of Bangladesh
HussainErshad. The declaration signed by King of Bhutan JigmeSingye,
President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq, Prime Minister of IndiaRajiv Gandhi,
King of Nepal Birendra Shah, President of Sri LankaJR Jayewardene, and
President of Maldives MaumoonGayoom.
It was back in 1980 when the concept of regional political and
economic cooperation in South Asia was first thought of and fired the public
imagination. Even before that, the idea was discussed in three major
conferences: Asian Relations Conference (New Delhi), Baguio Conference
(Philippines) and Colombo Powers Conference (Sri Lanka), which were held
between 1947 and 1954. Ex-president of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman was the
one who made a formal proposal on May 2, 1980. The first SAARC summit
was held in Dhaka on 8 December 1985, when the organisation was
established. Afghanistan is the only new inclusion that happened since
SAARC was established.



The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was first mooted in
November 1980. After consultations, the Foreign Secretaries of the seven
countries met for the first time in Colombo, in April 1981. This was
followed, a few months later, by the meeting of the Committee of the Whole,
which identified five broad areas for regional cooperation. The Foreign
Ministers, at their first meeting in New Delhi, in August 1983, formally
launched the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) through the adoption of
the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC).
At the First Summit held in Dhaka on 7-8 December 1985, the Charter
establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(SAARC) was adopted.
The objectives, principles and general provisions, as mentioned in the
SAARC Charter, are as follows :


To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve

their quality of life;
To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural
development in the region and to provide all individuals the
opportunity to live in dignity and to realise their full potentials;
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 in international forums
on matters of common interests; and
To cooperate with international and regional organizations with
similar aims and purposes.
Cooperation within the framework of the Association is based on
respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity,
political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other
states and mutual benefit.


Such cooperation is to complement and not to substitute bilateral or

multilateral cooperation.
Such cooperation should be consistent with bilateral and multilateral
obligations of the member states.
Decisions at all levels in SAARC are taken on the basis of unanimity.
Bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from its deliberations.

The highest authority of the Association rests with the Heads of State
or Government.
Council of Ministers
Comprising the Foreign Ministers of member states is responsible for
the formulation of policies; reviewing progress; deciding on new areas of
cooperation; establishing additional mechanisms as deemed necessary; and
deciding on other matters of general interest to the Association. The Council
meets twice a year and may also meet in extraordinary session by agreement
of member states.

Standing Committee
Comprising the Foreign Secretaries of member states is entrusted with
the overall monitoring and coordination of programmes and the modalities
of financing; determining inter-sectoral priorities; mobilising regional and
external resources; and identifying new areas of cooperation based on
appropriate studies. It may meet as often as deemed necessary but in practice
it meets twice a year and submits its reports to the Council of Ministers.
Programming Committee
Comprising the senior officials meets prior to the Standing Committee
sessions to scrutinize Secretariat Budget, finalise the Calendar of Activities
and take up any other matter assigned to it by the Standing Committee.
Technical Committees
Comprising representatives of member states, formulate programmes
and prepare projects in their respective fields. They are responsible for
monitoring the implementation of such activities and report to the Standing
Committee. The chairmanship of each Technical Committee normally
rotates among member countries in alphabetical order, every two years.
Action Committees
According to the SAARC Charter, there is a provision for Action
Committees comprising member states concerned with implementation of
projects involving more than two, but not all member states. At present,
there are no such Action Committees.


Other Meetings
During the first decade of SAARC, several other important meetings
took place in specific contexts. A number of SAARC Ministerial Meetings
have been held, to focus attention on specific areas of common concern and
has become an integral part of the consultative structure.
In addition, a high level Committee on Economic Cooperation (CEC)
has been established in 1991, for identifying and implementing programmes









A three-tier mechanism was put in place in 1995, to follow-up on the

relevant SAARC decisions on Poverty Eradication. The tiers consist of
Meeting of Secretaries in-Charge of Poverty Eradication, Meeting of
Finance/Planning Secretaries, and Meeting of Finance/Planning Ministers.

The IPA is a key component of the SAARC process and includes a
number of important areas of cooperation. Technical Committees numbering
eleven at present have been designated to coordinate work in the identified
areas of cooperation.
In response to the emphasis given by successive Summits on the need
to further consolidate and streamline IPA and to make it more result
oriented, a comprehensive set of guidelines and procedures was adopted in


1992 for the rationalisation of SAARC activities. As a result of this, there is

now a greater focus on activities that would bring tangible benefits to the
people of South Asia.
The Secretary-General reports on the progress in the implementation
of IPA to the Standing Committee, both at its inter- Summit and pre-Summit
The Standing Committee has also taken the initiative to review the
institutional mechanisms and activities of the Association, including the








amalgamation/alteration of their mandate and also a review of the role of the

Secretariat. In this context, the Independent Expert Group set up by the
Secretary-General has recently undertaken an extensive review of the
functioning of IPA and come up with important recommendations presently
under consideration of the Member States.

Technical committees
Agriculture was among the original five areas identified for fostering
regional cooperation. The first meeting of Technical Committee was held in
1983. Subsequently, Forestry was also included in the work of the
Committee was instrumental in the setting up of SAARC Agricultural
Information Centre (SAIC) at Dhaka in 1988 - the first SAARC regional
institution of its kind.


Under the work of this Technical Committee, Member states have been
exchanging Germplasm, Breeding Materials on Livestock and Fishery in
accordance with the quarantine regulations in force in their respective
countries. Prototypes of Farmtools and Equipment have been exchanged for
trial and adaptation. Activities for Improved Livestock through Exchange of
Animals, Frozen Semen and Vaccine have also been undertaken. The
responsibility of compiling lists of institutions and disciplines capable of
offering training in member countries has been entrusted to SAIC. Rice and
Wheat-breeding Programmes for enhancing productivity have been
conducted while Multilocation trials for various crops are being undertaken.
Regular meetings of Counterpart Scientists is an important feature of the
Committee's programmes. The list of Counterpart Scientists in the twelve
agreed areas of crops and disciplines have been finalised for networking.
These are : Rice (Millet); Wheat; Oilseeds; Horticulture (Potato) Vegetables
and Fruits; Fisheries; Forestry; Transfer of Technology; Livestock (Animal
Health and Production); Farm Machinery and Implements; Post Harvest
Technology; Agriculture Economics & Policies and Soils. Progress has been
made towards establishing a network on Amelioration of Problem Soils.
TC on Telecommunications and TC on Postal Services both
established in 1983 were amalgamated into a single TC on Communications
with effect from 1993.
With a view to bringing about an over-all improvement in the postal
services in the region, the work programme in Postal sector includes


training, seminars, workshops study tours etc. covering a number of areas.

Training programmes were held for First and Middle Level Officers and for
Trainers as well as in Philately, International Postal Services, International
Mail Accounting and Routing, Postal Management Services and Post Office
Savings Banks. Seminars / Workshops were organized on Postal Operation
and future challenges, Mechanisation of Postal Operations, Agency
functions, Financial Services, Caring for Customer, Expedited Mail Service
(EMS), Circulation System of EMS and Postal Marketing.
Study tours on Agency Services, Safety and Security of Postal
Articles, Postal Services in Hilly or Rural Areas and New Mail and Financial
Service in Pakistan were undertaken to gain first-hand knowledge of
problems and plans for improvement of postal services. SAARC Philatelic
Exhibitions have been held to exchange/share knowledge and develop skills
of philately.
Since 1985, Letter Writing Competitions have been held annually.
Studies had been undertaken on Productivity Measurement Techniques
applied in postal operations, Postal Delays in SAARC region, Integration of
Postal Services with rural development and Concessional Mail Tariff and
Mail Transmission. Other activities undertaken include issuance of
commemorative stamps, postage stamp displays and philatelic exhibitions.
Education, Culture and Sports
TC on Education (established in 1989) and TC on Sports, Arts and
Culture (established in 1983) were amalgamated into a single TC on
Education and Culture in January 1993. The Technical Committee was


renamed Technical Committee on Education, Culture and Sports with effect

from 1st January 1995.
The priority themes identified for cooperation in the field of
Education are Women and Education; Universal Primary Education;
Literacy, Post Literacy and Continuing Education; Educational Research;
Science and Technical Education, Education for the Underserved Areas and
Distance Education. The nomination of Nodal Agencies for each of the
priority themes have been completed and appropriate Action Plans are being
Short-term activities in the field of Education include, Expert Group
Meetings; Workshops / Seminars on the priority themes; Modernisation of
Curriculum; Environmental Education including Population Education;
Planning and Management of Education, Teacher Training, Higher
Education and Book Production and Marketing. Publication of an Anthology
of South Asian Poetry has been completed and preparation of an Anthology
of short stories of SAARC countries is underway.
Environment and Meteorology
TC on Meteorology and TC on Environment were merged as a single
TC with effect from January 1996.
Environment was identified as an area that called for the urgent
attention of SAARC in 1987, during which year the Heads of State or
Government decided to commission a Study on "Causes and Consequences
of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation of the
Environment". Following this decision at the Third SAARC Summit in


Kathmandu in 1987, National Studies were undertaken and subsequently

consolidated into a Regional Study, which was approved by the Sixth
SAARC Summit (Colombo, 1991).
The other Regional Study conducted by SAARC relates to the
"Greenhouse Effect and its Impact on the Region". This Study was
completed in 1992 and approved by the Seventh SAARC Summit in Dhaka
in 1993.
The Heads of State or Government during their Eighth Summit (New
Delhi, 1995) stressed the importance of effective and speedy implementation
of the recommendations of the two Studies on Environment.
Further, at their Ninth Summit, they also gave directives that SAARC
Environmental Ministers Meeting would be institutionalised to focus more
directly on the environmental concerns of the region. Accordingly, the
conference of the SAARC Environment Ministers was held in Male' in

1997 which


an Action




implementation of recommendations contained in the two SAARC Studies

on Environment. It also formulated a collective position on climate change
which was subsequently presented to the Kyoto Conference in December
Health, Population Activities and Child Welfare
Health and Population Activities was one of the original five areas of
cooperation identified by member states. The First Meeting of the Technical
Committee assigned these subjects was held in 1984 and since then fifteen
meetings have been held so far.


The primary focus of the Committee has been on children, population

welfare and policy, maternal and child health, primary health care, disabled
and handicapped persons, control and eradication of major diseases in the
region such as malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, diarrhoea diseases, rabies,
AIDS, and iodine deficiency disorder.
Important health issues have also been at the centre of SAARC's
social agenda. The SAARC Member States have thus taken a number of
initiatives to address several key issues relating to population control,
serious problems in the area of health care and disease control. Discussions
on health issues have highlighted the need for strengthening efforts to
combat problems posed by the resurgence of communicable diseases such as
malaria, TB, water borne diseases and the emergence of AIDS as major
health hazards. Stress has been laid on greater inter-country coordination and
cooperation amongst the Member States to enable them to make a frontal
attack on the communicable and non-communicable diseases afflicting the
region. Networking arrangements for training, research and eradication of
malaria and regional approach for combating major diseases in the region
have been undertaken. A Directory of training programmes in six priority
areas, i.e. malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, diarrhoeal diseases, human rabies
an maternal and child health have been prepared and circulated. In addition,
several status papers on important subjects relating to health have been
circulated among the Member States. Member States have also identified
Centres such as the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New
Delhi and the National Institute of Malaria Training and Research, Lahore to
act as focal points on the different diseases. Likewise, the SAARC
Tuberculosis Centre, established in Kathmandu in 1992, has been


specifically entrusted with the main objective to work towards the

prevention and control of tuberculosis in the SAARC region by coordinating
the efforts of the National TB Control Programmes of the Member
Countries. The Centre is also proactive in training, research and
dissemination of information in the region.
Prevention of Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse
Since its establishment in 1987, the Committee has implemented a
number of programmes in law enforcement, prevention, treatment and
rehabilitation as essential elements of a coordinated regional strategy in
combating drug trafficking and drug abuse. It contributed significantly
towards the finalisation of the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances in November 1990, which came into force in
September 1993 upon its ratification by all member states.
Cooperation among Drug Law Enforcement Agencies and Officers is
being developed through short-term activities such as Seminars and Training
Courses. Nodal Agencies in member states have been nominated to
exchange information and intelligence on drug offences. The SAARC Drug
Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) has been established in Colombo to
collate, analyse and disseminate information on drug offences. Efforts are
afoot for further strengthening SDOMD.
In the field of demand reduction, short-term activities such as
workshops/seminars held so far have focused on the role of media in drug
abuse prevention, community mobilisation against drug abuse, preventive
education, school curriculum development, treatment and relapse prevention


and exchange of information on indigenous and innovative methods of

treatment. A networking arrangement among Nodal Institutions in drug
abuse prevention is being established.
Rural Development
Rural Development is one of the five original areas identified for
cooperation under the IPA. The first meeting of the Committee was held in
1984. Specific activities taken up by the Technical Committee include,
exchange of information and literature among member states on issues
relating to rural development, preparation of research studies on selected
topics, compilation of lists of experts, training institutes, and institutions
involved in transfer of appropriate technology in member states, with a view
to exchanging expertise and sharing training facilities within the region.
Several workshops/seminars and training courses covering practically
all aspects of rural development including regional planning, poverty
focused development, rural energy, design of agricultural projects, local
level planning, inter-country comparisons, appropriate technology, disaster
management, rural child development, rural sociology, peoples participation,
rural water supply, employment generation, social forestry, rural
communication and development of agricultural markets have been
conducted in member states under the Committee.
The Technical Committee has identified a set of priority areas on
which activities under its aegis would be carried out. These priority areas
focus on income and employment generation on a sustained basis; creation
of assets and enhancing availability of credit access to the same by the rural


poor; human resource development in the rural areas; development and

maintenance of rural infrastructure; development and introduction of
appropriate technology to enhance productivity in the rural areas; rural
environments; issues related to diversification of rural economies;
mobilisation of resources for rural development; gender perspective of rural
development: assured supply of inputs for rural production and improvement
in the marketing facilities and improvement in the institutional environment
for rural development.
Science and Technology
Since its establishment in 1983, Technical Committee on Science and
Technology has undertaken a wide variety of programmes which include
short-term activities such as Seminars/Workshops/ Meetings of Experts,
Training Programmes, Joint Research Projects, preparation of State-of-theArt Reports and compilation of Directories.
Seminars/Workshops/Meetings of Experts held so far were on: Post
Harvest and Food Technology; Renewable Energy Resources; Photovoltaic;
Pesticides; Instrumentation; Maintenance and Calibration, Cultivation and
Processing of Medicine and Aromatic Plants; Delivery System of Improved
Stoves for Rural Users; Low Cost Housing Technology Diffusion in Rural
Areas; Treatment of Drinking Water in Rural and Urban Areas; Science
Policy; Low Cost Scientific Educational Equipment; Bio-Fertilizer
Technology; Bio-Mass Gasification; Recycling of Waste Water and







Information and its Linkages; Biological Control of Plant Pests;

Immunodiagnostics; Ore Benefication; Energy Modelling Techniques; Solar


Thermal Technology; Technological Aspects of Low Cost Housing;

Examination of Operational System of Rural Electrification Cooperative;
Short-term Course on Technology Assessment and Technology Diffusion.
Training Programmes have also been held for Scientists and
Technologists on: Tannery Waste Management; Low Cost Housing;
Development of Prawn Hatcheries; Electronics and Molecular Biology. In
addition, Joint Research Projects on Design and Manufacture of Food
Processing Equipment and Appropriate Post Harvest Food Technology for
Perishable items have been carried out.
The Committee was established in 1991 to promote cooperation in the
field of tourism in the region. At its first meeting held in Colombo in
October 1991, the Committee decided on an Action Plan on Tourism to
promote cooperation in the areas such as training programmes, exchange of
information, joint promotion, joint-venture investment, intra-regional
tourism etc. The Committee is also charged with the responsibility of
reviewing the progress on the SAARC Scheme for Promotion of Organized
Tourism. These topics have formed an integral part of the agenda of the
meetings of the Committee which have been held so far.
Among others, activities of the Committee include training facilities
by the member states in the field of tourism and hotel management;
production of SAARC Travel Guide and SAARC tourism promotional film
on the theme "A Unique Holiday with Diversity : From Top of the World to



the Sunny beaches". Efforts are also being made by the Committee for early
launching of the SAARC Scheme for Promotion of Organised Tourism.
The Technical Committee on Transport, established in 1983, covers
three major segments of transport, i.e. land transport, divided into roadways
and railways; sea transport sub-divided into inland waterways and shipping;
and air transport.
The activities of the Committee cover exchange of data and
information, preparation of status papers, compilation of data-base and
directories of consultancy centres for transport sector. Seminars and
Workshops have covered areas such as Material and Cost of Road
Construction, Maintenance of Roads, Rural Roads, Road transportation and
safety; Containerisation for Railways, Urban transportation, Inland Water
Transport, Maritime Transport etc.
Women in Development
Women in Development was included as an area of cooperation under
the IPA in 1986 and since then twelve meetings have been held so far.
Specific issues taken up by the Committee include, preparation of a
Regional Plan of Action for Women, effective dissemination of technical
information relating to women in development generated by Member States.
So far four SAARC Solidarity Journals have been published with the Fifth
issue on the theme "Violence Against Women" to be published by Sri Lanka
in time for the Tenth SAARC Summit. It may be noted that the previous
issues have covered the subjects - Rural Development for Women; The Girl


Child; and Women in the Informal Sector. One of the most important
features of the work of the Technical Committee was designating 1990 as the
SAARC Year of the Girl Child and 1991-2000 as the SAARC Decade of the
Girl Child. A Plan of Action was also drawn up to observe the Decade. A
mid-decade review on the implementation of the Plan of Action for the
SAARC Decade of the Girl Child was conducted in October 1996 in India
which took into consideration priority concerns under Health and Nutrition,
Education and Literacy and Marriage and Motherhood.

Taking note of the mid-decade review of the SAARC Plan of Action

on the Girl-Child, the Heads of State or Government expressed their
determination to accelerate efforts at reduction of malnutrition and mortality
rates, raising education and literacy rates, reduction of the proportion of
early marriage among girls, and the postponement of the age of first
pregnancy, thereby contributing to the increased welfare of the girl-child and
reduction of population growth rates. An appraisal of the situation of Girl
Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (GCEDC) was also carried
out in December 1996 where key common issues and concerns of SAARC
Member States were identified and categorised into two groups, i.e. directly
affecting GCEDC and indirectly affecting GCEDC. Recommendations were
also made both on policy and programme issues.
At the Ninth SAARC Summit, the Leaders reaffirmed their
commitment to take urgent action to alleviate the situation of Girl Children
in Especially Difficult Circumstances (GCEDC), including those orphaned,









recommendations made by the Council of Ministers, aimed at the creation of

a socio-economic environment in the SAARC region which would provide
equal opportunities to children from all economic sections.
Another important area which has received priority attention in the
recent years has been the issues relating to trafficking in women and
children within and between countries. During their Ninth Summit, the
SAARC Leaders expressed their grave concern at the trafficking of women
and children within and between countries and pledged to coordinate their
efforts and take effective measures to address this problem. They also
directed the Member Countries to examine the possibility of formulating a
Regional Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and
Children for Prostitution. Member States have underscored the need to work
out such a Convention before the Tenth Summit.
The SAARC countries can co-operate m the modernization of existing
industrial units through technology transfer and joint ventures. This would
help in reviving sick industrial units in many countries. Similarly, the
countries can cooperate in the technological up gradation and modernization
of small and medium enterprises, which make a very important contribution
for employment generation.
It is recommended that necessary institutional mechanisms may be set up to
support the efforts towards expansion of trade and establishment of
industrial joint ventures. The supporting mechanisms include clearing and
payments arrangements, arbitration center, and trade information network.
The provisions of the existing Asian Clearing Union have to be suitably
modified to take care of the needs of the SAARC countries. There is a need


to establish a separate SAARC Arbitration Center. Similarly, a separate trade

financing mechanism for the region has to be set up.

The present study attempted to inquire into various aspects of
regionalcooperation in South Asia in the preceding chapters with the
objective ofgaining a meaningful understanding of SAARC as a
phenomenon. This studystarted with the basic conceptual discussion on
regions, South Asia as a viableregion and proceeded to study the evolution
of SAARC as a regionalorganization of South Asia. The socio-economic and
political dimensions ofthe states of the region, their internal problems, their
interrelationships, the roleand importance of the region in international
relations and the impact of theglobal powers on the regional organization of
the South Asia have beendiscussed in detail. An evaluation of the
functioning of SAARC and theprogress made by it during these years has
also been undertaken.
The study started with a conceptual discussion of world war II and
itsconsequences and arrival at a working definition of region. It indicates


thatthere were strong factors in South Asia, like the geography, proximity,
history,society, security perception and nation building process etc.
commonalities inthe social and cultural aspects and economic background.
These factors andinterference of the big powers in someway or the other
paved the path forregional organization in South Asia.
The genesis of SAARC is also one of them. The origin of SAARC in
itspresent form could be traced to the proposals mooted by the late President
Ziaur-Rehman of Bangladesh in 1980 followed by the circulation of
WorkingPaper on South Asian Regional Cooperation in November 1980.
The formaldiscussions for the establishment of an institutional mechanism
for regionalcooperation in South Asia started with the Colombo meeting of
the ForeignSecretaries of the seven states of South Asian region, i.e.
Bangladesh, Bhutan,India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in April