South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Association sud-asiatique de coopération régionale (ASACR)

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8 Dec 1985, Dhaka (Bangladesh), on adoption of the SAARC Charter at the 1st Meeting of Heads of State or Government of 7 founder-member countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) following: official proposal, 2 May 1980, by the President of Bangladesh; informal meeting of Foreign Ministers, Feb 1981, Delhi (India); official meeting of Foreign Secretaries, Apr 1981, Colombo (Sri Lanka); identification, later in 1981, of 5 broad areas for regional cooperation by a Committee of the Whole; and 1st Official Meeting of Foreign Ministers, Aug 1983, Delhi, when Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC) - or Delhi Declaration - was adopted and Integrated Programme of Action for South Asian Regional Cooperation launched in 9 selected areas. Afghanistan admitted as member of SAARC at the 14th SAARC Summit, 3 Apr 2007, Delhi.


Accelerate the process of economic and social development in member states through collective action in agreed areas of cooperation, including: Agriculture and Rural Development; Human Resource Development; Environment; Meteorology and Forestry; Science and Technology; Transport and Communications; Energy; Social Development; Poverty Alleviation.

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Areas of cooperation:

 • 'Poverty Alleviation' - A two-tier mechanism (Ministers and Secretaries dealing with Poverty Alleviation) meets regularly to review progress in this area, including progress in the realization of the 22 SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of the SAARC Action Plan on Poverty Alleviation. Regional Poverty Profile on designated themes - provides analysis of regional situation (published every 2 years).

 • 'Agriculture and Rural Development' - Cooperation pursued based on SAARC Agriculture Perspectives/Vision 2020 (2008), Regional Food Security Strategy (2008). A major regional project with FAO on Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases, underway since June 2010. Food Security project with AusAID also under implementation. A set of regional food security projects is being developed with assistance of ADB. Cooperation in this area is being steered by the meetings of the SAARC Agriculture Ministers and the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. SAARC Food Bank established and operational since 2008. Establishment of Regional Seed Bank under consideration.

 • 'Biotechnology' - Plan of Action for Cooperation in Biotechnology covers: Plant Tissue Culture; Medicinal and Aromatic Plants; Plant Biotechnology including Therapeutic and Edible Vaccines; Vaccines and Diagnostics for Human Health; Aquaculture; Human Resource Development.

 • 'Communications, Information and Media' - stresses the importance of developing infrastructure and adequate communications networks among member countries to reinforce the process of economic cooperation; highlights the need for simplification of complex documentation procedures and transactional software to facilitate economic interaction across the region.

 • 'Economic' - South Asian Preferential Trade Arrangement (SAPTA) entered into force Dec 1995. Subsequently, South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement entered into force with effect from 1 Jan 2006. Agreement on trade in services under SAFTA signed Apr 2010; ratification by Members States under process. Agreement on South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARCO), signed Aug 2008; ratification by Member States under process. 'SAARC Arbitration Council' established 2010. Three trade facilitation agreements signed in 2005: Customs Cooperation; Avoidance of Double Taxation; Arbitration Council. 'Agreement on protection and promotion of investments' under consideration. Cooperation in economic and financial sector pursued by, inter alia, SAFTA Ministerial Council, SAFTA Committee of Experts, Committee on Economic Cooperation, SAARCFINANCE (Central Bank Governors of Member States), Inter-governmental Expert Group on Financial Issues.

 • 'Transport Connectivity' - Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC (2010-2020). SAARC Regional Multimodal Transport Study (2006) provides for measures/corridors to be developed. 'Regional Motor Vehicle Agreement', 'Regional Railways Agreement' and 'Comprehensive Regional Transit Agreement' under consideration. Meetings of Transport Ministers, Inter-governmental Group on Transport and Technical Committee on Transport guide cooperation in this area.

 • 'Energy' - Concept of Energy Ring developed Jan 2009. Working Group on Energy has prepared a Plan of Action, June 2004, under implementation. Experts Groups work on Oil and Gas, Electricity, Renewable Energy and Technology/Knowledge Sharing. Task Force has finalized a common template on technical and commercial aspects of electricity grid interconnection amongst SAARC Member States. Road Map on Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation for implementation by Member States has been developed. SAARC Energy Trade Study (SRETS) completed with assistance of ADB, identifying 4 trade options.

 • 'Environment' - Plan of Action on Environment (1997); Plan of Action on Climate Change (2008); Thimphu Statement on Climate Change (2010); SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment (2010 - ratification by Member State under process). Four regional initiatives on mountain, marine, monsoon and climate-related disasters being commissioned. Common SAARC position on climate change presented at COP15 and COP16. SAARC Natural Disaster Rapid Response Mechanism under consideration. SAARC Environment Ministers and Technical Committee on Environment and Forestry guide cooperation in this area.

 • 'Human Resources Development' - covers education and culture and establishment of a network of centers of higher learning and training and Skill Development Institutes across South Asia.

 • 'Human Resources Development' - Work underway on harmonization of professional/academic degrees in the region. SAARC Chairs, Fellowship and Scholarship Programme facilitates students/scholars from the region to pursue higher studies. South Asian University, Delhi (India), established 2010.

 • 'Security' - Legal instruments concluded in this area: SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol; SAARC Regional Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances; SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Mechanisms that address cooperation in this area: Meetings of Interior/Home Ministers and Secretaries; Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters; SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD); SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD); Coordination Group on Drug Law Enforcement Agencies. High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism.

 • 'Science, Technology and Meteorology' - SAARC Plan of Action on Science and Technology (2008-2013). SAARC Initiative for Industrial Research and Development underway. Meetings of Ministers of Science and Technology and Technical Committee on Science and Technology guide cooperation in this area.

 • 'Social' - Major initiatives include: SAARC Social Charter; SAARC Gender Info Base; Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS; Regional Strategy for HIV/AIDS; SAARC Award; SAARC Youth Award; Telemedicine Network; Regional Strategy on Communicable Diseases; SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating the Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution; SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia. Ministerial Meetings and Technical Committee on Women, Children and Youth, and Technical Committee on Health and Population guide cooperation in this area.

 • 'Tourism' - Plan of Action on Tourism (2006). Meetings of SAARC Tourism Ministers and Working Group on Tourism guide cooperation in this area.

SAARC Apex Bodies: South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC); Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL); SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI); South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW); South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA); South Asia Foundation (SAF).

SAARC Recognized Bodies:

 • 1. Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA);

 • 2. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects (SAARCH);

 • 3. Federation of State Insurance Organizations of SAARC Countries (FSIO);

 • 4. 'SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum (SDEF)';

 • 5. Radiological Society of SAARC Countries (RSSC);

 • 6. SAARC Teachers' Federation (STF);

 • 7. SAARC Surgical Care Society (SSCS);

 • 8. South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA);

 • 9. 'SAARC Women's Association in Sri Lanka (SWA)';

 • 10. 'Hindukush Himalayan Grassroots Women's Natural Resources Management (HIMAWANTI)';

 • 11. Federation of Associations of Pediatric Surgeons of SAARC Countries (FAPSS);

 • 12. South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE);

 • 13. SAARC Federation of Oncologists (SFO);

 • 14. South Asia Association of National Scout Organization (SAANSO);

 • 15. South Asia Network of Economic Research Institutes (SANEI);

 • 16. SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology (SAO);

 • 17. South Asian Women Development Forum (SADWF);

 • 18. Self Employed Women Association (SEWA).

 • SAARC Development Fund (SDF), as funding mechanism for regional/sub-regional projects with 3 windows: social; economic; infrastructure. Initial paid up capital of US$ 300 million.

Cooperation Agreements / Memoranda of Understanding not mentioned above:

 • Agreement establishing SAARC-Japan Special Fund, signed 27 Sep 1993 by SAARC and the Ambassador of Japan in Kathmandu;

 • Memorandum of Understanding between SAARC and PTB, signed 25 Nov 2003 by SAARC and the President of PTB;

 • Revised Memorandum Guidelines for the SAARC-Japan Special Fund, signed 6 Feb 2006 by SAARC and the Ambassador of Japan to Nepal.

Designated SAARC Years - since 1989, designated SAARC Years to focus on specific themes of common concern to Member States:

 • 1989 - SAARC Year of Combating Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking;

 • 1990 - SAARC Year of Girl Child;

 • 1991 - SAARC Year of Shelter;

 • 1992 - SAARC Year of Environment;

 • 1993 - SAARC Year of Disabled Persons;

 • 1994 - SAARC Year of the Youth;

 • 1995 - SAARC Year of Poverty Eradication;

 • 1996 - SAARC Year of Literacy;

 • 1997 - SAARC Year of Participatory Governance;

 • 1999 - SAARC Year of Biodiversity;

 • 2002-2003 - SAARC Years of Contribution of Youth to Environment;

 • 2004 - SAARC Awareness Year for TB and HIV/AIDS;

 • 2005 - South Asia Tourism Year;

 • 2006 - South Asia Tourism Year;

 • 2007 - Green South Asia Year.

Designated SAARC Decades:

 • 1991-2000 - SAARC Decade of the Girl Child;

 • 2001-2010 - SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child;

 • 2006-2015 - SAARC Decade of Poverty Alleviation.

Instrumental in setting up Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA).


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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 23 inter-governmental organizations.
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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 1 non-governmental organizations.
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Members in 16 countries
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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

  • Government
    • Intergovernmental Communities
  • Solidarity
    • Cooperation

UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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