SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL COOPERATIONCHAPTER 1.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 emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2007. Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.Area of operation of SAARC nations are Agriculture and Rural Development Health and Population Activities Women, Youth and Children Transportation Environment and Forestry Science and Technology and Meteorology Human Resources development .
1.1 HistoryThe 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, and 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 again mooted in May 1980. The foreign secretaries of the seven countries met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981. The Committee of the Whole, which met in Colombo in August 1985, identified five broad areas for regional cooperation. New areas of cooperation were added in the following years.
Afghanistan was added to the regional grouping on 13 November 2005 With the addition of Afghanistan, the total number of member states were raised to eight (8). In April 2006, the United States of America and South Korea made formal requests to be granted observer status. The European Union has also indicated interest in being given observer status, and made a formal request for the same to the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in July 2006. On 2 August 2006 the foreign ministers of the SAARC countries agreed in principle to grant observer status to the US, South Korea and the European Union. On 4 March 2008, Iran requested observer status. Followed shortly by the entrance of Mauritius.
The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are:1. To promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life;2. 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 realize their full potential;3. To promote and strengthen selective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;4. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems;5. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;6. To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries;7. To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and8. To cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.
The principles are: Respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political equality and independence of all members states Non-interference in the internal matters is one of its objectives Cooperation for mutual benefit All decisions to be taken unanimously and need a quorum of all eight members All bilateral issues to be kept aside and only multilateral (involving many countries) Issues to be discussed without being prejudiced by bilateral issues
1.4. CURRENT MEMBERS CURRENT MEMBERS
South Africa has participated in meetings.
1.5 REGIONAL CENTRES The SAARC Secretariat has established various regional centers in member states. Each regional centre is managed by a governing board. The GB has representatives of each of the member state and SAARC Secretariat. The SAARC Secretariat is supported by following Regional Centres established in Member States to promote regional cooperation. These Centres are managed by Governing Boards comprising representatives from all the Member States, SAARC Secretary-General and the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of the Host Government. The Director of the Centre acts as Member Secretary to the Governing Board which reports to the Programming Committee.
REGIONAL CENTRES SAARC Agricultural Centre (SAC), Dhaka SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC), Dhaka SAARC Tuberculosis Centre (STC), Kathmandu SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC), New Delhi SAARC Human Resources Development Centre (SHRDC), Islamabad SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (SCZMC), Maldives SAARC Information Centre (SIC), Nepal SAARC Energy Centre (SEC), Pakistan SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC), India SAARC Forestry Centre (SFC), Bhutan SAARC Cultural Centre (SCC), Sri Lanka
1.6 APEX AND RECOGNISED BODIESSAARC Apex Bodies SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) SAARCLAW South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) South Asia Foundation (SAF) South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL)
SAARC Recognized Bodies SAARC Federation of University Women (SAARCFUW) Association of Management and Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects (SAARCH) Federation of State Insurance Organizations of SAARC Countries (FSIO) SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum (SDEF) Radiological Society of SAARC Countries (RSSC) SAARC Teachers Federation (STF) SAARC Surgical Care Society (SSCS) South Asian Regional Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (SARAD) South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) SAARC Womens Association in Sri Lanka (SWA) Hindukush Himalayan Grassroots Womens Natural Resources Management (HIMAWANTI) Federation of Association of Pediatric Surgeons of SAARC Countries (FAPSS) South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) SAARC Federation of Oncologists (SFO) South Asia Association of National Scout Organization (SAANSO)South Asian Network of Economic Research Institute (SANEI)
1.7 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTUREThe SAARC comprises five layers of organizational structure: 1. Council: At the top, there is the Council represented by the heads of the government of the member countries. The council the apex policy making body. It meets once in 2 years time.2. Council of Minister: It is to assist the council. It is represented by the foreign minister of the member countries. Its functions include:Formulation of policies Review of functioning Deciding new areas of cooperation Chalk our additional mechanism Decide about general issues of common of interest of the SAARC member.3. Standing Committee: It is comprised by the foreign secretarian of the member government. Its major functions are: To monitor and co-ordinate the programmes To determine inter-sectored priorities To mobilise cooperation within and outside the region To deal with the modalities of financing.
4. Programming Committee: It consist of the senior official of the member governments. Its functions include: Scrutinizing the budget of the secretarial Finalizing the annual schedule External activities assigned by the standing committee Analyses the respects of the technical committee.
5. Technical Committee: It consist of the represented of the member nations. Its function are: To formulate project and programmer To monitor and execute the projects To submit reports.The Technical Committee converts the areas such as: Agriculture, Communication, Environment, Rural Development, Health and Population, Science and Technology, Tourism and Transport.
SECRETARIATThe SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987 and was inaugurated by Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal.It is headed by a Secretary General appointed by the Council of Ministers from Member Countries in alphabetical order for a three-year term. He is assisted by the Professional and the General Services Staff, and also an appropriate number of functional units called Divisions assigned to Directors on deputation from Member States. The Secretariat 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 organizations. The Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Secretariat which was signed by Foreign Ministers of member countries on 17 November 1986 at Bangalore, India contains various clauses concerning the role, structure and administration of the SAARC Secretariat as well as the powers of the Secretary-General.In several recent meetings the heads of state or government of member states of SAARC have taken some important decisions and bold initiatives to strengthen the organisation and to widen and deepen regional co-operation.Secretarial: The SAARC secretarial is located in Nepal. Its function include:1. Coordination, execution and monitoring of SAARC activities2. Servicing the SAARC meetings3. Work as communication link between the SAARC and other international forume.
SECRETARIES-GENERAL OF SAARCAbul AhsanJanuary 16, 1987 to 15 October 1989
Kishore Kant BhargavaOctober 17, 1989 to December 31, 1991
Ibrahim Hussain ZakiJanuary 1, 1992 to December 31, 1993
Yadav Kant SilwalJanuary 1, 1994 to December 31, 1995
Naeem U. HasanJanuary 1, 1996 to December 31, 1998
Nihal RodrigoJanuary 1, 1999 to January 10, 2002
Q.A.M.A. RahimJanuary 11, 2002 to February 28, 2005
Lyonpo Chenkyab DorjiMarch 1, 2005 to February 29, 2008
Sheel Kant SharmaMarch 1, 2008 to February 28, 2011
Fathimath Dhiyana SaeedMarch 1, 2011 to March, 2012
Ahmed SaleemMarch, 2012 to present
CHAPTER 2.SAARC SUMMITS:-NoDateCountryHostHost leader
1st78 Dec 1985BangladeshDhakaAtaur Rahman Khan
2nd1617 Nov 1986IndiaBangaloreRajiv Gandhi
3rd24 Nov 1987NepalKathmanduMarich Man Singh Shrestha
4th2931 Dec. 1988PakistanIslamabadBenazir Bhutto
5th2123 Nov. 1990MaldivesMalMaumoon Abdul Gayoom
6th21 Dec. 1991Sri LankaColomboDingiri Banda Wijetunge
7th10-11pril 1993BangladeshDhakaKhaleda Zia
8th24 May 1995IndiaNew DelhiP. V. Narasimha Rao
9th1214 May 1997MaldivesMalMaumoon Abdul Gayoom
10th2931 July 1998Sri LankaColomboSirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike
11th46 January 2002NepalKathmanduSher Bahadur Deuba
12th26 January 2004PakistanIslamabadZafarullah Khan Jamali
13th1213 Nov 2005BangladeshDhakaKhaleda Zia
14th34 April 2007IndiaNew DelhiManmohan Singh
15th13 August 2008Sri LankaColomboRatnasiri Wickremanayake
16th2829 April 2010BhutanThimphuJigme Thinley
17th10-11 Nov 2011MaldivesAdduMohamed Nasheed
SAARC SUMMITS:-First summitThe first summit was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 78 December 1985, and was attended by the presidents of Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the kings of Bhutan and Nepal, and the prime minister of India. They signed the SAARC Charter on 8 December 1985, thereby establishing the regional association, and established study groups on the problems of terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as planning a ministerial-level meeting about GATT, and a ministerial-level conference on increasing the participation of women at the regional level. The summit also agreed to establish a SAARC secretariat and adopted an official SAARC emblem. Second summitThe second summit was held in November 16-17 Bangalore, India in 1986. The Heads of State or Government welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the SAARC Secretariat by the Council of Ministers and their decision to locate the Secretariat in Kathmandu and appoint Ambassador Abul Ahsan of Bangladesh as the first Secretary-General of SAARC.
Third summitThe third summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 24 November 1987, and was attended by the presidents of Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, and the kings of Bhutan and Nepal. The foreign ministers of the member states signed the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and an agreement to establish a South Asian Food Reserve. Fourth summitThe fourth summit was held in Islamabad, Pakistan on 2931 December 1988 and was attended by the presidents of Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, and the kings of Bhutan and Nepal. The summit discussed the coup attempt on 3 November 1988, declared 1989 to be the "SAARC Year Against Drug Abuse", declared 1990 to be the "SAARC Year of the Girl Child", set up a technical committee on education, and launched a regional plan called "SAARC-2000-A Basic Needs Perspective" to meet specific targets by the end of the twentieth century in areas such as food, shelter, education and environmental protection. It was also agreed to hold regular "South Asian Festivals" with the first being hosted by India.
Fifth summit:The fifth summit was held in Mal, Maldives on 2123 November 1990 and was attended by the presidents of Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of India, Nepal and Pakistan, and the king of Bhutan. The leaders signed the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, launched the Special SAARC Travel Document (providing visa-exemptions for national judges, parliamentarians and academics and their immediate families), launched a Scheme for the Promotion of Organised Tourism, authorized the SAARC secretariat to share information and exchange reports, studies and publications with the European Community and the Association of South East Asian Nations, declared various SAARC years (1991-2000 AD) to be the "SAARC Decade of the Girl Child", 1991 to be the "SAARC Year of Shelter", 1992 to be the "SAARC Year of the Environment", 1993 to be the "SAARC Year of Disabled Persons", and decided to set up the SAARC Tuberculosis Centre in Nepal and the SAARC Documentation Centre in India. Sixth summitThe sixth summit was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 21 December 1991 and was attended by the prime ministers of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and the king of Bhutan. The discussion on regional co operation , non interference in each other internal affairs and peaceful settlement of issue about international economic issue and international political development and strengthen of SAARC and fight with terrorism and development of small states . Seventh summitThe seventh summit was held in Dhaka, on 1011 April 1993, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, and the king of Bhutan. It was discussed mainly about Science and technology is important for the development of south Asia to facilated the research and exchange of information through networking arrangement in field of biotechnology, genetic engineering & energy modeling techniques.Eighth summitThe eighth summit was held in New Delhi, on 24 May 1995, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and the king of Bhutan. It was Decade of SAARC.The main point of this summit is eradication of poverty women development, SAARC Preferential trading Agreement (SAPTA), Protection of person with disability and literacy.Ninth summitThe ninth summit was held in Mal, on 1214 May 1997, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the prime ministers of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, and the king of Bhutan.
Tenth summitThe tenth summit was held in Colombo, on 2931 July 1998, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka and the prime ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Eleventh summitThe eleventh summit was held in Kathmandu, on 46 January 2002, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the prime ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. Twelfth summitThe twelfth summit was held in Islamabad, on 46 January 2004, and was attended by the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka and the prime ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Thirteenth summitThe thirteenth summit was held in Dhaka, on 1213 November 2005, and was attended by the prime ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Pakistan, the presidents of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and the king of Nepal
Fourteenth summitThe fourteenth summit of SAARC was held in New Delhi, on 3rd-4 April 2007, and was attended by the presidents of Afghanistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka and the prime ministers Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan and the chief adviser of the government of Bangladesh.Fifteenth summitThe fifteenth summit of SAARC was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 13 August 2008. The issues discussed were regional cooperation, partnership for growth for the peoples of South Asia, connectivity, energy, the environment, water resources, poverty alleviation, the SAARC Development Fund, transport, information and communications technology development, science and technology, tourism, culture, the South Asian Free Trade Area, the SAARC Social Charter, women and children, education, combating terrorism, and the admission of Australia and Myanamar as observers.Food SecurityAt the summit, one of the major points of discussion was the global food crisis. The SAARC heads of government made a statement saying "in view of the emerging global situation of reduced food availability and worldwide rise in food prices, we direct that an Extra-ordinary Meeting of the Agriculture Ministers of the SAARC Member States be convened in New Delhi, India in November 2008, to evolve and implement people-centered short to medium term regional strategy and collaborative projects.
They also acknowledged the need to forge greater cooperation with the international community to ensure the food availability and nutrition security. Sixteenth summitThe sixteenth summit was held in Thimpu, Bhutan on 2829 April 2010. Bhutan hosted the SAARC summit for the first time. This was marked the silver jubilee celebration of SAARC that was formed in Bangladesh in December 1985. Climate change was the central issue of the summit with summit's theme "Towards a Green and Happy South Asia". Outcome of Thimpu Summit regarding climate change issue: SAARC leaders signed a SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment to tackle the problem of climate change. The SAARC nations also pledged to plant 10 million trees over the next 5 years. India proposed setting up of climate innovation centres in South Asia to develop sustainable energy technologies. India offered services of India's mission on sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem to the SAARC member states saying that the initiative could serve as a nucleus for regional cooperation in this vital area. India announced "India endowment for climate change" in South Asia to help member states meet their urgent adaption and capacity building needs posed by the climate change.
2.1. 17th SAARC Summit: 'Building Bridges'The 17th Summit level conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) is going to be held in Maldives on November 10-11. The theme of this year's Summit is "Building Bridges." South Asia is a region where there are more than 100 languages, 10 main religions, one-fifth of world population and various types of regional, bilateral and multilateral organizations. The intention of establishing this regional body was "to cooperate regionally, to work together towards finding solutions to common problems in a spirit of friendship, trust and mutual understanding and to the creation of an order based on mutual respect, equity and shared benefits" (Dhaka Declaration, 1985). It was hoped that through the creation of Saarc economic, social and technical cooperation among the countries of South Asia would contribute significantly to national and collective self-reliance.Though 26 years have passed there are mixed views about the successes and failures of Saarc. The main successes of Saarc are first, for the first time the member states are legally obliged to respect each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Second, yearly meeting of heads of the states/governments bring the countries closer and prevent exacerbation of existing tensions, and also search for possible approaches to mitigate them. Third, the areas of cooperation identified by the technical committee facilitate the economic and social development of the member states.
Fourth, the agreement to combat women and child trafficking is an important benchmark for such a regional forum. Fifth, considering climate change, "the leaders, deeply concerned by the extent of environmental degradation in the region, reiterated the importance of sustainably managing environment and development through adoption of eco-friendly approaches and technologies, and that South Asia should become a world leader in low-carbon technology and renewable energies" (Thimphu Declaration, 2010). Sixth, to alleviate poverty, the 13th Summit meeting endorsed formulation of Saarc Development Goals (SDGs) and also emphasized regular monitoring of the process. Seventh, the inclusion of Afghanistan increases the acceptability of the forum. The 14th Summit was particularly significant as it emphasized connectivity. According to Declaration 4, "the heads of states/governments recognized the importance of connectivity in fulfilling these objectives. It was vital to first have better connectivity within South Asia and then with the rest of the world. They agreed to improve intra-regional connectivity, particularly physical, economic and people-to-people connectivity. They agreed to the vision of a South Asian community where there was smooth flow of goods, services, people, technologies, knowledge, capital, culture and ideas in the region." The South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) is another notable achievement of Saarc.However, Saarc has failed to establish itself as an effective body of regional development as compared to other regional organizations like European Union or ASEAN.
Although, as per Article 1 of the Charter, some of the main objectives of the organisation were to promote welfare of the people and improve their lives, and accelerate economic growth and social progress, the forum has failed to achieve these basic objectives and the members are mostly moving individually towards economic emancipation in spite of having broad-based areas of mutual cooperation. Though, in principle, the member states agreed on sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, small states like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri-Lanka and Bhutan are in many respects dependent on the will of the bigger state India. Almost all the countries in the region have bilateral problems with India. There are problems related to border, terrorism, arms competition etc. between India and Pakistan. There are problems related to water sharing, exchange of enclaves, border fencing, border killings etc. between Bangladesh and India while landlocked states Nepal and Bhutan have no options but to abide by the will of India. Without managing or minimising these, it will be very difficult to make Saarc an effective body. Article 10(2) of the Saarc Charter is a barrier in resolving these problems as it states: "Bilateral and contentious issues shall be excluded from the deliberations." South Asia is a unique region as it has linguistic and cultural diversification, and is a geo-strategic location. Maldives is the lowest lying state in the region whereas Nepal is the highest point. Both the countries, along with Bangladesh, are in a vulnerable situation because of global climate change. This needs special attention, but Saarc has failed to address them.
As a result, the theme of the 16th Summit at Bhutan in 2010, "Towards a Green and Happy South Asia," has become nothing but a slogan. Because of the many problems within SAARC, it is of immense importance to make this body functional. Farsighted, democratic political leadership can solve the problems, but in most of the South Asian countries democracy is still developing.The theme of the upcoming Summit indicates its significance as it aims to build bridges of friendship, peace and security, which can benefit all the states. By forming a task force, as proposed by the Bangladesh prime minister at the 16th Summit at Bhutan, Saarc can lay the foundation stone for achieving peace and prosperity. In the era of globalisation, only collective efforts can ensure national development. As development is a combined process, narrow national interest can only ensure short-term benefits, but creates numerous obstacles in the long run. The European Union is the brightest model of regional cooperation, and even Asean has been more successful than Saarc in many respects. Although it has a lot of potential, Saarc is still far from it's destination. We the people are waiting to see a happy and prosperous South Asia. Hopefully, the dream will be materialised.
CHAPTER 3.ACHIEVEMENT OF SAARC:South Asian Free Trade AreaOver the years, the SAARC members have expressed their unwillingness on signing a free trade agreement. Though India has several trade pacts with Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, similar trade agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh have been stalled due to political and economic concerns on both sides. In 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement to gradually lower tariffs within the region, in Dhaka. Eleven years later, at the 12th SAARC Summit at Islamabad, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement which created a framework for the establishment of a free trade area covering 1.6 billion people. This agreement went into force on January 1, 2008. Under this agreement, SAARC members will bring their duties down to 20 percent by 2009. .
ENVIRONMENT:1. A SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) was established in New Delhi in October 2006. The SDMC provides policy advice and facilitates capacity building including strategic learning, research, training, system development, expertise promotion and exchange of information for effective disaster risk reduction and management.
2. Regional Centers such as the SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives, the SAARC Forestry Centre in Bhutan, the SAARC Disaster Management Centre in India and the SAARC Meteorological Research Centre in Bangladesh constitute a framework of SAARC Institutions which address diverse aspects of environment, climate change and natural disasters.3. Sixteenth SAARC Summit, Thimphu, 28-29 April 2010Climate Change was the theme of the Sixteenth SAARC Summit (Thimphu, 28-29 April 2010) and, among others, the Heads of State or Government of SAARC adopted the Thimphu Statement on Climate Change which outlines a number of important initiatives at the national and regional levels to strengthen and intensity regional cooperation to address the adverse effects of climate change in a focused manner. The Inter-governmental Expert Group on Climate Change (IGEG.CC), established by the Thimphu Statement, is scheduled to meet in Sri Lanka in 2011. The IGEG.CC is required to monitor, review progress and make recommendations to facilitate the implementation of the Thimphu Statement. The IGEG.CC will report to the SAARC Environment Ministers.
HUMAN DEVELOPMENTAt the Thirteenth SAARC Summit held in November 2005 in Dhaka, India proposed to create a Centre of Excellence, in the form of a South Asian University, which can provide world class facilities and professional faculty to students and researchers drawn from every country of the region.
POVERTYALLEVIATIONRecognizing the imperative to address poverty related issues and to suggest strategies and measures to alleviate poverty in the region, the SAARC Leaders at their Sixth Summit (Colombo, 1991) established an Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA).
TOURISMThe Tourism Ministers who met at Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh) in May 2006, adopted the Cox's Bazar SAARC Action Plan on Tourism. Several factors such as political, economic, security and potentiality of mutual economic benefit through regionalism seem to have influenced President Ziaur Rahmans thinking about establishing a regional organization in South Asia. 15 SAARCs existence, however, has enabled South Asian political leaders to meet regularly and carry on informal discussions to address their mutual problems. This is no mean achievement given South Asias past history and low level of interaction among South Asian countries since their independence. Informal talks among the leaders at regularly held SAARC meetings have led to inter-elite reconciliation on many sensitive issues, producing some noteworthy results in South Asia. The informal talks between the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers at the second SAARC Summit meeting at Bangalore in November 1986 led to the diffusion of tension between the two countries on the issue of Indias military exercise, Operation Brasstacks, on the Indo-Pakistan border, and the India-Sri Lanka talks at the 1987 SAARC foreign ministers meeting led to their accord on the Tamil problem. As a result of an informal meeting and discussion between Prime Minister of India and Pakistan, Narasimha Rao and Nawaz Sharif, at Davos (Switzerland), in 1992, the Pakistani government took action to prevent the move of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to cross the ceasefire line in Kashmir later that year. The Davos meeting was possible because of an earlier informal agreement between the two leaders at the sixth SAARC Summit meeting at Colombo in December 1991. Given this utility of SAARC, can the organization grow or expand its role in the coming decades? The Heads of State or Government during the Ninth SAARCSummit agreed for the first time that a process of informal political consultations would prove useful in promoting peace, stability, amity and accelerated socio-economic cooperation in the region. The leaders reiterated this intent during their Tenth and Eleventh Summits in Colombo and Kathmandu respectively also. The Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement(SAPTA) was signed in 1993 and four rounds of trade negotiations have been concluded. With the objective of moving towards a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was signed during the Twelfth Summit in Islamabad in January 2004. SAFTA may enter into force by the end of the year 2006. The Association has carried out Regional Studieson trade, manufactures and services, environment and povertyalleviation, SAFTA and Customs matters. Since its inception in 1984 there have also been serious differences among member countries over the aims and functioning of SAARC.16 Such differences have been pronounced in verbal bickerings in several SAARC meetings. This is in the face of the fact that closer social, economic and cultural ties (the espoused ideals of SAARC) are considered the one and only hope for building regional cooperation efforts in South Asia in the coming years. Indeed, increasing rationalization of world trade and the fluidity of the emerging global system has increased trade within each trade bloc and those countries that do not belong to any trade blocs are likely to be the losers.17 This also provides a strong rationale for sustaining the SAARC vis--vis future trade prospects of South Asia. The assumption that peace can be achieved through SAARC without addressing the political problems of the region has neither been able to cultivate peace nor to invigorate the SAARC process successfully. Though since its very inception it has been regularly able to hold Summit meetings yet there have been interruptions in between owing mainly to intrastate conflicts between the member countries.
3.1 FUTURE PROSPECTS:South Asia needs increased co operations among its countries to face challenges posed by hikes in food prices energy prices, recurrent disasters and climate change. Due to gerographic, economic, cultural and other strategic reasons. South asia has distinct advantages to cooperate in many areas including cross border infrastructure and services, health, trade finance, and regional public goods. Due to its strategic geographic location. southasia can play an important role in the wider Asian integration, Though there are significant achievement in cooperation among the south asian countries the progress in regional cooperation and integration has been slow. The SAARCH has tremendous prospects to expedite the integration process.Regional co operation can help achieve economic and social development. Cross-border development of basic infrastructure such as highways, railways, shipping and air connectivity, inland waterways, power grids, san telecommucation links can reduce physical barriers to the movement of goods and people across national boundaries, it can in turn help to expand regional trade and tourism, increase foreign echange earning capacity, and create labour intensive activites generating emplyement oppportunites. Reginoal co operation can increase the regional cooperation can play a very important role in assisting south asian coutires speed up economic growth.
SAARC has a vital role to play in poverty reduction and building a more intergrated and prosperous asian region the SAARC can help to be a stabilizing element to bilateral relationship.The history of SAARC shows that it had been high on promise and low on delivery, to change the organization into a more vibrant and result oriented body, they need to overcome their differences and disputes and create a climate of mutual trust and confidence.The recent steps such as social charter, SAFTA, and declarations on Terrorism are in the positive direction and their goals appear achievable there political will to do so appears forthcoming now this looks good for the future of the SAARC.
3.2 FUTURE MEMEBERSHIP:-
The People's Republic of China has shown its interest in joining SAARC. While Pakistan and Bangladesh support China's candidature, India is against the prospect of Chinese membership. China's entry in to SAARC will likely balance India's overbearing presence there. However, during the 2005 Dhaka summit, India agreed on granting observer status to the PRC along with Japan. During the 14th summit, Nepal along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, announced their support for the membership of China. China seeks greater involvement in SAARC, however, finds it too early to apply for full membership. Indonesia intends to become an observer as well, and is supported by Sri Lanka. Iran, a state with borders to two SAARC members, has traditionally enjoyed strong cultural, economic and political relationships with Afghanistan and Pakistan and has expressed its desire to become a member of the South Asian organization. On 22 February 2005, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi, indicated Iran's interest in joining SAARC by saying that his country could provide the region with "East-West connectivity".
On 3 March 2007, Iran asked to join the SAARC as an observer. SAARC Secretary-General Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji responded by saying that Iran's request for observer status would be taken up during a meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of SAARC member countries in the 3 April summit in New Delhi.
Russia intends to become an observer as well, and is supported by India. Myanmar has expressed an interest in joining as a full member, even though it is already a member of the ASEAN. If done so, Myanmar will become the ninth member in the group. India is currently backing Myanmar. 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. South Africa has participated in meetings.
3.3 SAARC Youth AwardThe SAARC Youth Award is awarded to outstanding individuals from the SAARC region. The award is notable due to the recognition it gives to the Award winner in the SAARC region. The award is based on specific themes which apply to each year. The award recognizes and promotes the commitment and talent of the youth who give back to the world at large through various initiatives such as Inventions, Protection of the Environment and Disaster relief. The recipients who receive this award are ones who have dedicated their lives to their individual causes to improve situations in their own countries as well as paving a path for the SAARC region to follow. The Committee for the SAARC Youth Award selects the best candidate based on his/her merits and their decision is final.
Previous Winners:1997: Outstanding Social Service in Community Welfare - Mr. Md. Sukur Salek (Bangladesh)1998: New Inventions and Discoveries - Dr. Najmul Hasnain Shah (Pakistan)2001: Creative Photography: South Asian Diversity - Mr. Mushfiqul Alam (Bangladesh)2002: Outstanding contribution to protect the Environment - Dr. Masil Khan (Pakistan)2003: Invention in the Field of Traditional Medicine - Mr. Hassan Sher (Pakistan)2004: Outstanding contribution to raising awareness for TB and/or HIV/AIDS - Mr. Ajij Prasad Poudyal (Nepal)2006: Promotion of Tourism in South Asia - Mr. Syed Zafar Abbas Naqvi (Pakistan)2008: Protecting the Environment in South Asia - Ms. Uswatta Liyanage Deepani Jayantha (Sri Lanka) 2009: Outstanding contribution to humanitarian works in the aftermath of Natural Disasters - Dr. Ravikant Singh (India)2010: Outstanding contribution for the Protection of Environment and mitigation of Climate Change - Ms. Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne (Sri Lanka)
CHAPTER 4.SAARC: CAUSES OF FAILUREThe two-day 16th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) held in Bhutanese capital of Thimpu on April 28-29 concluded with a joint declaration expressing the resolve of their leaders to wage common struggle for economic development, improve their inter-connectivity, promote people to people contacts and evolve a joint strategy to tackle the issues of climate change, water and food shortages.
During the last quarter of the previous century international relations witnessed a strong surge towards regionalism. The underlying idea was to promote peace and economic progress through multilateral partnership of states in the region by pooling the available resources. Further impetus was provided by the emergence of new issues that threatened the fabric of international norms, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, extremism, and economic crisis. It was realized that these problems could not be solved at bilateral level and required joint efforts and close coordination. Accordingly regional groupings such as ECO, GCC, Asean and Saarc emerged.
Saarc came into being in December 1985, with the adoption of its charter in Dhaka. The objectives were to promote the welfare and improve the quality of life of the people of South Asia by accelerating economic growth in the region and building up mutual trust among the member states. The importance of Saarc as a regional organization despite its rather unsatisfactory record, is recognized by all leaders. The feeling that peace and prosperity are indivisible and that the South Asia region has a common destiny and a shared struggle for a better and brighter future has emerged dominant theme.
The leaders who gathered in Thimpu made a frank appraisal and acknowledged that the organisation has failed to live up to the hope and aspiration of 1/5th of humanity represented by Saarc members. The Prime Minister of Bhutan also expressed the hope that Saarc will not turn into just a talk shop.
This honest confession that the bloc has not moved away from declarations of intent to concrete implementation, should however not blind us to the achievements.
Its performance has not been entirely dismal. Despite failings, a number of significant achievements such as (i) The Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism (ii) Saarc Agriculture Information Centre at Dhaka (iii) Saarc audio visual exchange programme (SAVE) (iv) Social Charter to set targets for eradication of poverty, population stabilisation and human resource development fall to its credit.
The South Asia Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) was signed in the 7th summit at Dhaka in April 93, but it has not yet been operationalised. The proposal to establish South Asian Food Reserve and South Asian Development Fund have also met the same fate. Similarly declarations on enhancing political cooperation and promotion of mutual trust and understanding reiterated in each summit have registered limited success. Saarc despite these limitations and poor performance, however, remains a useful tool for smaller countries to promote understanding and cooperation at bilateral level.
Facing criticism that Saarc has failed to realise its ambitious objectives during the last 25 years, the Thimpu Summit decided not to indulge in rhetoric and set ambitious goals. The two major and modest projects agreed upon were US$300 million fund to reduce poverty in the region and also on trade and environmental protection. The perceptions of the failure of Saarc to implement its charter have been aggravated by the political climate obtaining in the region. SAARC summits should act as a forum where member states discuss not only matters of regional importance but also the underlying causes of tension in bilateral relations. To retain its credibility and relevance Saarc should eschew unrealistic economic and social goals; instead it should be effectively used as a medium to discuss issues of peace, security and development with international organisations and agencies to promote interests of the member countries.
At the Thimpu Summit, the leaders pledged that they will unitedly work to realise the aspirations of the founding fathers as set out in the first Summit. The fundamental weakness that Saarc suffers from is trust deficit among the members states. The political differences had deep negative impact on the political will to realise the economic cooperation and integration. Besides political differences and conflict, economic factors have also played an unhelpful role. The member states except India have still not reached the take-off stage to be able to pursue the programme of economic integration and collaboration. The establishment of Saarc Development Fund, Food Bank, The Arbitration Council, and the Regional Standards Organizations are the right moves. Saarc should also seek free and preferential trading arrangements with other regional bodies notably EU and the Asean. The people of South Asia desire to have a peaceful, prosperous and secure future. The security can be obtained through sincere and sustained efforts to narrow the political differences. Saarc is the appropriate tool not only to build trust but also to solve disputes and create conducive climate for realisation of Saarc charter. Political issues:- SAARC has intentionally laid more stress on "core issues" mentioned above rather than more divisive political issues like the Kashmir dispute and the Sri Lankan civil war. However, political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. SAARC has also refrained from interfering in the internal matters of its member states. During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.
Conclusion Though the formation of SAARC is a landmark step taken by the leaders of the region, the main rational behind its establishment is to develop a congenial environment through summit policy where all nations may interact peacefully with each other, cultivate sustainable peace and promote mutual economic well being by harnessing available resources in the region through the peaceful process of economic integrationThe political tensions and conflicts surrounding the countries of a South Asia pose question of uncertainty and challenge to the formation of South Asian Union.In order to achieve the objectives the SAARC would have to evolve into a full-fledged regional entity that can cultivate peace in the region. The realization of durable peace and the future of economic integration through SAARC depend upon the ability and interest of South Asian leaders to resolve domestic as well as long-standing differences through peaceful eliberations.
REFERENCES:Books:-Author :Pierre Philippe combes. Economic Geography the Integration of Regions and Nations Publisher : Princeton University Press (September 8, 2008)