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18.1d South Asian Association for Regional Co-Operation (SAARC)

Two features that are common among the South Asian countries: poverty and over population. Also, there exists considerable mutual suspicion among these countries, which means escalating defense expenditure. Hence there is the need for cooperation and goodwill in the area.

(i) Formation

The Foreign Secretaries of the South Asian countries expressed their desire for regional cooperation in the 1980s when they held several meetings in Colombo. Consequently, the SAARC was formally launched on 8th December, 1985 at a Summit held in Dhaka. Its members were India, Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal. At the another SAARC meeting held at Colombo in 1991 the member nations came up with a number of goals o be achieved: a more liberalized trade zone among the countries, working together on environmental issues and enabling the children of the countries to achieve at least primary education at the turn of the century. The meetings of the member nations (represented by their respective Heads of governments) is held every year.

(ii) Constituent Institutions

This organization consists of the following:

1. The Council of Ministers: comprising of the Foreign Ministers of the member nations. They are to meet twice a year to review the progress of the organization as well as make the policies.

2. The Standing Committee: which consists of the Foreign Secretaries of the member nations. It is to meet biannually.

3. The Secretariat: headed by the Secretary General. The Council of Ministers elect him. This body consists of seven directorates representing each member nation. It is in charge of coordinate the activities of the member nations.

(iii) Principles

The SAARC Charter has chalked out a number of principles:

1. Each of the member nations is to co-operate by respecting the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence and noninterference in the internal affairs of other states and mutual benefit.

2. Such co-operation shall only complement bilateral and multilateral co-operation, and not substitute it.

3. The Dhaka Declaration emphasized the principle of unanimity and exclusion of the bilateral issues from the considerations of the SAARC.

(iv) Objectives

The Charter provides the objectives of the SAARC:

1. The promotion of the welfare of the people of South Asia for the bettering of the quality of life.

2. The acceleration of economic growth, social cultural development of the region and the providing the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize oneís full potential.

3. The promotion and strengthening of collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia.

4. The contribution of mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one anotherís problems.

5. The encouragement of active collaboration and mutual assistance in economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.

6. The enhancement of co-operation with other developing countries.

7. The encouragement of co-operation among themselves in international forums on issues of common interest.

8. The co-operation with international and regional organizations with identical aims.





Dec. 1985


Sri Lanka


Secretariat : Kathmandu
Secretary-General : Ibrahim Hussain
Zakari of Maldives

Nov. 1986


Aug. 1987


Dec. 1988


Nov. 1990


Dec. 1991

(Sri Lanka)

Apr. 1993



New Delhi

An important achievement of this organization is an agreement on the establishment of the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and the South Asian Development Fund (SAVF). This agreement signed in 1993 can be regarded an explicit expression of concept of regional economic cooperation.

[next page]


18.0 Introduction
18.1 Regional Organizations
   a. E.E.C
   b. O.P.E.C
   c. S.W.A.P.O
   d. S.A.A.R.C
   e. A.S.E.A.N,
   f. G.A.T.T.
   g. N.A.F.T.A
18.2 International Organizations
   a. N.A.M
   b. The Commonwealth
   c. U.N.O.
18.3 Dates & Events

Chapter 19


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