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South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

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Title: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation  
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Subject: Foreign relations of the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Foreign relations of Bangladesh, Pakistan–Russia relations
Collection: Foreign Relations of Afghanistan, Foreign Relations of Bangladesh, Foreign Relations of Bhutan, Foreign Relations of Nepal, Foreign Relations of Pakistan, Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka, Foreign Relations of the Maldives, Intergovernmental Organizations Established by Treaty, International Economic Organizations, International Organizations of Asia, Organisations Based in Nepal, Organizations Established in 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, United Nations General Assembly Observers
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South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

South Asia Association for Regional
  Observer states
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  Member states
  Observer states
Headquarters Kathmandu, Nepal
Official languages English
 -  Secretary-General Arjun Bahadur Thapa[1]
 -  Directors:

Md Ibrahim Ghafoori[2]
 -   Bangladesh MJH Jabed[3]
 -   Bhutan Singye Dorjee[4]
 -   India L. Savithri[5]
 -   Maldivesa Fathimath Najwa[6]
 -     Nepal Harpal Sing Nepali[7]
 -   Pakistan Ahmar Ismail[8]
 -   Sri Lanka Prasanna Gamage[9]
Establishment 8 December 1985
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total US$ 9.05 trillion [1]
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total US$ 2.599 trillion [2]
a. Current SAARC Summit host

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an countries that are primarily located in South Asia.[10] The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.[11] The combined economy of SAARC is 3rd largest in the world in the terms of GDP(PPP) after the United States and China and 8th largest in the terms of nominal GDP. SAARC nations comprise 3% of the world's area and in contrast having 21% (around 1.7 billion) of the world's total population. India makes up over 70% of the area and population among these eight nations. All non-Indian member states except Afghanistan share borders with India but only two other members, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have a border with each other . 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 slowdown in India which accounts for nearly 80% of SAARC's economy.

The idea of regional political and economical cooperation in Afghanistan,[14] and several observer members.[12]

The SAARC policies aim to promote welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate socio-cultural development in the region.[15] The SAARC has developed external relations by establishing permanent diplomatic relations with the EU, the UN (as an observer), and other multilateral entities.[15] The official meetings of the leaders of each nation are held annually whilst the foreign ministers meet twice annually.[15] The 18th SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu from 26-27 November 2014.


  • History 1
  • Members and observers 2
    • Observers 2.1
    • Potential future members 2.2
  • Secretariat 3
    • Regional Centres 3.1
  • Apex and Recognised Bodies 4
  • Political issues 5
  • South Asian Free Trade Area 6
  • SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme 7
  • Awards 8
    • SAARC Award 8.1
    • SAARC Literary Award 8.2
    • SAARC Youth Award 8.3
  • SAARC Anthem 9
  • Secretaries-General of SAARC 10
  • SAARC summits 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


A clickable • •

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.[16]

In the ending years of the 1970s, the seven inner South Asian nations that included

  • Official website
  • SAARC Youth

External links

  1. ^ "Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa is SAARC’s new Secretary General". IANS. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mohamed Ibrahim GhafooriI[sic]".  
  3. ^ "MJH Jabed".  
  4. ^ "Singye Dorjee".  
  5. ^ "L. Savithri".  
  6. ^ "South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation : Home".  
  7. ^  
  8. ^  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ SAARC Summit. "SAARC". SAARC Summit. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  11. ^ SAARC Secretariat. "SAARC Secretariat". SAARC Secretariat. SAARC Secretariat. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Editorial (1 August 2008). "History and mission of SAARC". Daily Star, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c SAARC Summit press, 1st Summit. "1st Summit Declaration". SAARC Summit press, 1st Summit. SAARC Summit press, 1st Summit. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  14. ^ SAARC 14th Summit Declaration, press. "14th Summit Declaration". Declaration of the Fourteenth SAARC Summit. SAARC 14th Summit Declaration, press. 
  15. ^ a b c Charter of SAARC. "Charter of SAARC". Charter of SAARC. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d e f Muhammad, Jamshed Iqbal. "SAARC: Origin, Growth, Potential and Achievements". National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research in Islamabad. NIHCR in Islamabad. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "A Brief on SAARC." South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. No date. See for a complete historical account of SAARC e.g. Michael, Arndt (2013). India's Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 57–112.
  19. ^ Jang Media. "History and Evolution of SAARC". Jang Media Research Unit. Jang Media Group. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  20. ^ About SAARC. "About SAARC". About SAARC. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  21. ^ "South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation". South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  22. ^ Staff (August 28, 2005). "Afghanistan keen to join SAARC". rediff web services. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  23. ^ Staff reporter (4 April 2004). "Afghanistan inducted as 8th member: 14th Saarc summit begins". Dawn news, 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  24. ^ a b c Sáez, Lawrence (2011). The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) : an emerging collaboration architecture. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.  
  25. ^ "South Asia: Afghanistan Joins World's Largest Regional Grouping." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 3 April 2007.
  26. ^ "Cooperation with Observers". South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Cooperation with Observers". South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "SAARC to grant observer status to US, S Korea, EU." Hindustan Times. 2 August 2006.
  32. ^ Waliur Rahman. "US and S Korea to observe SAARC." BBC News, 11 April 2008.
  33. ^ People's Daily"Iran requests for observer status in SAARC." , 5 March 2009.
  34. ^ SAARC and Myanmar: Observer Research Foundation
  35. ^ a b "Russia, Turkey seek observer status in SAARC". The Economic Times. 16 February 2014. 
  36. ^ a b "Russia, Turkey seek observer status in SAARC". Yahoo News. 16 February 2014. 
  37. ^ a b SAARC The Changing Dimensions: UNU-CRIS Working Papers United Nations University, Comparative Regional Integration Studies
  38. ^ a b Russia keen to join SAARC as observer, Oneindia News
  39. ^ SAARC hi nations call for transparency in social sector – Thaindian News
  40. ^
  41. ^ a b
  42. ^
  43. ^ See for this aspect Michael, Arndt (2013). Sovereignty vs. Security: SAARC and its Role in the Regional Security Architecture in South Asia. Harvard Asia Quarterly Summer 2013, Vol. VX, No.2: 37-45
  44. ^ Jhawar, Shiv (2004).  
  45. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize for 2012". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ [3] FOSWAL Website
  50. ^ [4] Five Writers honoured at SAARC Litearure Festival, Hindustan Times March 11, 2013
  51. ^ [5] Official website of SAARC:Apex and Recognized Bodies
  52. ^ Mahasweta Devi to get SAARC Literary Award March 30, 2007
  53. ^ Indian diplomat's poem spurs search for SAARC anthem IANS January 9, 2014
  54. ^ Nepal foreign minister expresses need for an anthem to connect SAARC nations Business Standard, 6 June 2014
  55. ^ Will SAARC have an anthem like ASEAN? Hindustan Times, 3 November 2014
  56. ^ SAARC website
  57. ^ Term expires 28 February 2017
  58. ^ a b "Kathmandu, Nepal to host 18th SAARC Summit in November 2014". IANS. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  59. ^


See also

No Date Country Host Host leader
1st 7–8 December 1985  Bangladesh Dhaka Ataur Rahman Khan
2nd 16–17 November 1986  India Bengaluru Jayanth M Gowda
3rd 2–4 November 1987    Nepal Kathmandu Marich Man Singh Shrestha
4th 29–31 December 1988  Pakistan Islamabad Benazir Bhutto
5th 21–23 November 1990  Maldives Malé Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
6th 21 December 1991  Sri Lanka Colombo Ranasinghe Premadasa
7th 10–11 April 1993  Bangladesh Dhaka Khaleda Zia
8th 2–4 May 1995  India New Delhi P V Narasimha Rao
9th 12–14 May 1997  Maldives Malé Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
10th 29–31 July 1998  Sri Lanka Colombo Chandrika Kumaratunga
11th 4–6 January 2002    Nepal Kathmandu Sher Bahadur Deuba
12th 2–6 January 2004  Pakistan Islamabad Zafarullah Khan Jamali
13th 12–13 November 2005  Bangladesh Dhaka Khaleda Zia
14th 3–4 April 2007  India New Delhi Manmohan Singh
15th 1–3 August 2008  Sri Lanka Colombo Mahinda Rajapaksa
16th 28–29 April 2010  Bhutan Thimphu Jigme Thinley
17th 10–11 November 2011[59]  Maldives Addu Mohammed Nasheed
18th (26–27 November 2014)[58]    Nepal Kathmandu Sushil Koirala

SAARC summits

Abul Ahsan 16 January 1985 to 15 October 1989
Kant Kishore Bhargava 17 October 1989 to 31 December 1991
Ibrahim Hussein Zaki 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1993
   Yadav Kant Silwal 1 January 1994 to 31 December 1995
Naeem U. Hasan 1 January 1996 to 31 December 1998
Nihal Rodrigo 1 January 1999 to 10 January 2002
Q. A. M. A. Rahim 11 January 2002 to 28 February 2005
Chenkyab Dorji 1 March 2005 to 29 February 2008
Sheel Kant Sharma 1 March 2008 to 28 February 2011
Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed 1 March 2011 to 11 March 2012
Ahmed Saleem 12 March 2012 to 28 February 2014[56]
   Arjun Bahadur Thapa 1 March 2014 to (present)[57][58]

Secretaries-General of SAARC

SAARC does not have an official anthem like some other regional organisations (e.g. ASEAN). However, a poem by poet-diplomat Abhay K has spurred search for an official SAARC Anthem.[53] Nepal's foreign minister has expressed the need for a SAARC anthem to connect SAARC nations.[54] Nepal at the 18th summit in Kathmandu in November 2014 is planning to introduce proposal for a SAARC Anthem in the agenda of summit when heads of all member states meet here.[55]

SAARC Anthem

  • 1997: Outstanding Social Service in Community Welfare – Mohammed Sukur Salek (Bangladesh)
  • 1998: New Inventions and Shanu - Najmul Hasnain Shah (Pakistan)
  • 2001: Creative Photography: South Asian Diversity – Mushfiqul Alam (Bangladesh)
  • 2002: Outstanding contribution to protect the Environment – Masil Khan (Pakistan)
  • 2003: Invention in the Field of Traditional Medicine – Hassan Sher (Pakistan)
  • 2004: Outstanding contribution to raising awareness for TB and/or HIV/AIDS – Ajij Prasad Poudyal (Nepal)
  • 2006: Promotion of Tourism in South Asia – Syed Zafar Abbas Naqvi (Pakistan)
  • 2008: Protecting the Environment in South Asia – Uswatta Liyanage Deepani Jayantha (Sri Lanka)
  • 2009: Outstanding contribution to humanitarian works in the aftermath of Natural Disasters – Ravikant Singh (India)
  • 2010: Outstanding contribution for the Protection of Environment and mitigation of Climate Change – Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne (Sri Lanka)

Previous Winners:

The 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 recognises 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.

SAARC Youth Award

Recipients of SAARC Literary Award 2013
[52] are some of the prominent recipients of this award.Abhay K, Mark Tully, Jayanta Mahapatra, Mahasweta Devi, Shamshur Rahman Faruqi [51] which is an apex SAARC body.[50][49] (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) since 2001SAARC is an annual award conferred by the Foundation of SAARC Literary Award

SAARC Literary Award

The SAARC Award comprises a gold medal, a letter of citation and cash prize of US $25,000 (INR15 lakhs). Since institution of SAARC Award in 2004, it has been awarded only once and the Award was posthumously conferred upon Late President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh.[48]

The Twelfth top (Islamabad, January 2004) approved the deeply rooted way of acting of the SAARC Award to great respect and support still waiting individuals and organisations within the part round. The main ends of the SAARC Award are: * To support individuals and organisations based in South Asia to undertake programes and activities goings well together the efforts of SAARC * To support individuals and organisations in South Asia sending in (writing) to the getting better of the conditions of women and children * To great respect still waiting contributions and things done of individuals and organisations within the field, range in the fields of peace, development, moneyless condition untroubling, general condition system of care for trade and partwise working together making the SAARC Award the most having respect Award in the field, range; and * To great respect any other still waiting contributions and things done, not covered over, of individuals and organisations in the part round.



The SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme was launched in 1992. The leaders at the Fourth Summit (Islamabad, 29–31 December 1988), while realising the importance of having people to people contacts, among the peoples of SAARC countries, decided that certain categories of dignitaries should be entitled to a Special Travel document, which would exempt them from visas within the region. As directed by the Summit, the Council of Ministers regularly kept under review the list of entitled categories. Currently the list included 24 categories of entitled persons, which include Dignitaries, Judges of higher courts, Parliamentarians, Senior Officials, Businessmen, Journalists, Sportsmen etc. The Visa Stickers are issued by the respective Member States to the entitled categories of that particular country. The validity of the Visa Sticker is generally for one year. The implementation is reviewed regularly by the Immigration Authorities of SAARC Member States.[47]

SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme

SAFTA was envisaged primarily as the first step towards the transition to a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) leading subsequently towards a Customs Union, Common Market and Economic Union. In 1995, the Sixteenth session of the Council of Ministers (New Delhi, 18–19 December 1995) agreed on the need to strive for the realisation of SAFTA and to this end an Inter-Governmental Expert Group (IGEG) was set up in 1996 to identify the necessary steps for progressing to a free trade area. The Tenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 29–31 July 1998) decided to set up a Committee of Experts (COE) to draft a comprehensive treaty framework for creating a free trade area within the region, taking into consideration the asymmetries in development within the region and bearing in mind the need to fix realistic and achievable targets. The SAFTA Agreement was signed on 6 January 2004 during Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006, and the Trade Liberalisation Programme commenced from 1 July 2006. Under this agreement, SAARC members will bring their duties down to 20 per cent by 2009. Following the Agreement coming into force the SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) has been established comprising the Commerce Ministers of the Member States.[46] In 2012 the SAARC exports increased substantially to US$ 354.6 billion from US$ 206.7 billion in 2009. Imports too increased from US$ 330 billion to US$ 602 billion over the same period. But the intra-SAARC trade amounts to just a little over 1% of SAARC's GDP. In contrast, in ASEAN (which is actually smaller than SAARC in terms of size of economy) the intra-bloc trade stands at 10% of its GDP.

Countries under the South Asian Free Trade Area

South Asian Free Trade Area

Lasting peace and prosperity of the Indian subcontinent has been elusive due to the various ongoing conflicts and in the region. Political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings which have refrained from interfering in the internal matters of its member states.[43] During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater co-operation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.[44][45]

Political issues

SAARC also has about 17 recognised bodies.[41]

Hemant Batra is the current incumbent Secretary General of SAARCLAW.

SAARC has six Apex Bodies,[41] namely, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), SAARCLAW (South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation In Law),[42] 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)

Apex and Recognised Bodies

SAARC Development Fund, Bhutan


  • SAARC Agricultural Centre (SAC), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre (STAC), Kathmandu, Nepal
  • SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC), New Delhi, India
  • SAARC Human Resources Development Centre (SHRDC), Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 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[40]

The SAARC Secretariat is supported by following Regional Centres established in Member States to promote regional co-operation. 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

The SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987 and was inaugurated by Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal.

Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Kathmandu, Nepal


[34] Russia has applied for observer status membership of SAARC.[35][36][37][38] Turkey applied for observer status membership of SAARC in 2012.[35][36][37][38] South Africa has participated in meetings.[39]

Potential future members

On 2 August 2006, the foreign ministers of the SAARC countries agreed in principle to grant observer status to three applicants;[31] the US and South Korea (both made requests in April 2006),[31] as well as the European Union (requested in July 2006).[32] On 4 March 2008, Iran requested observer status,[33] followed shortly by Mauritius.

States with observer status include[26] Australia,[27] China, the European Union,[28] Iran, Japan,[28] Mauritius,[29] Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.[30]


The SAARC member states imposed a stipulation for Afghanistan to hold a general election; the non-partisan elections were held in late 2005.[24] Despite initial reluctance and internal debates, Afghanistan joined SAARC as its eighth member state in April 2007.[24][25]

SAARC was founded by seven states in 1985. In 2005, Afghanistan began negotiating their accession to SAARC and formally applied for membership on the same year.[22][23] The issue of Afghanistan joining SAARC generated a great deal of debate in each member state, including concerns about the definition of South Asian identity because Afghanistan is a Central Asian country.[24]

The member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[21]

The first secretary general was Abul hasan (16 jan 1985-15 october 1989) the first women secretary general was fathima dhayana sied(maldivis) The first secretary general from india was sheel kanth sharma (01 march 2011-11 march 2012)

Members and observers

Officially, the union was established in Dhaka with Kathmandu being union's secretariat-general.[20] The first SAARC summit was held in Dhaka on 7–8 December 1985 and hosted by the President of Bangladesh Hussain Ershad.[13] The declaration signed by King of Bhutan Jigme Singye, President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq, Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, King of Nepal Birendra Shah, President of Sri Lanka JR Jayewardene, and President of Maldives Maumoon Gayoom.[13]

In 1983, the international conference held by Indian Minister of External Affairs P.V. Narasimha Rao 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.[19]

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.[17] 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 co-operation were added in the following years.[18]


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