The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
- The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was first raised in November 1980. After consultations, the foreign secretaries of the seven founding countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981.
- Afghanistan became the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
- The Headquarters and Secretariatof the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Cooperation within the framework of the SAARC shall be based on:
- Respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interferencein the internal affairs of other States and mutual benefit.
- Such cooperation shall not be a substitute for bilateral and multilateral cooperation but shall complement them.
- Such cooperation shall not be inconsistent with bilateral and multilateral obligations.
Areas of Cooperation
- Human Resource Development and Tourism
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Environment, Natural Disasters and Biotechnology
- Economic, Trade and Finance
- Social Affairs
- Information and Poverty Alleviation
- Energy, Transport, Science and Technology
- Education, Security and Culture and Others
The Objectives of the SAARC
- To promote the welfare of the people 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 realize 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.
- Low frequency of meetings:More engagement is required by the member states and instead of meeting biennial meetings should be held annually.
- Broad area of cooperation leads to diversion of energy and resources.
- Limitation in SAFTA: The implementation of SAFTA has not been satisfactory a Free Trade Agreement confined to goods, excluding all services like information technology.
- Indo-Pak Relations:Escalated tension and conflict between India and Pakistan have severely hampered the prospects of SAARC.