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The 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 [1] five broad areas for regional cooperation. New areas of cooperation were added in the following years. [edit]Objectives The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are:

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 potential; to promote and strengthen selective 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 interest; and to cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.

[edit]Principles 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

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 [4][5] 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. of Mauritius.


On 4 March 2008, Iran requested observer status.


Followed shortly by the entrance

[edit]Secretariat The 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 [7] 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 [7] 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. The SAARC Secretariat and Member States observe 8 December as the SAARC Charter Day1. [edit]Regional


The SAARC Secretariat has established various regional centres in member states. The 14th being SAARC Arbitration Council established at Islamabad in 2010. Each regional centre is managed by a governing board. The GB has representatives of each of the member state and SAARC Secretariat. [edit]Political


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. [edit]South

Asian Free Trade Area

Over 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, 2006. Under this agreement, SAARC members will bring their duties down to 20 per cent by 2009. [edit]SAARC

Youth Award

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. 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)

[edit]Members [edit]Current



Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka

[edit]Observers Australia China European Union Japan

[9] [9] [8]

Iran Mauritius

Myanmar South Korea United States

[edit]Others South Africa has participated in meetings.


[edit]Secretaries-General Abul Ahsan Kishore Kant Bhargava Ibrahim Hussain Zaki Yadav Kant Silwal Naeem U. Hasan Nihal Rodrigo Q.A.M.A. Rahim Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji Sheel Kant Sharma Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed Ahmed Saleem [edit]SAARC

January 16, 1987 to 15 October 1989

October 17, 1989 to December 31, 1991 January 1, 1992 to December 31, 1993 January 1, 1994 to December 31, 1995 January 1, 1996 to December 31, 1998 January 1, 1999 to January 10, 2002 January 11, 2002 to February 28, 2005 March 1, 2005 to February 29, 2008 March 1, 2008 to February 28, 2011 March 1, 2011 to March, 2012 March, 2012 to present

Country Host Host leader




78 December 1985

Bangladesh Dhaka

Ataur Rahman Khan

2nd 1617 November 1986



Rajiv Gandhi


24 November 1987


Kathmandu Marich Man Singh Shrestha


2931 December 1988


Islamabad Benazir Bhutto


2123 November 1990



Maumoon Abdul Gayoom


21 December 1991

Sri Lanka


Dingiri Banda Wijetunge


10-11 April 1993

Bangladesh Dhaka

Khaleda Zia


24 May 1995


New Delhi

P. V. Narasimha Rao


1214 May 1997



Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

10th 2931 July 1998

Sri Lanka


Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike

11th 46 January 2002


Kathmandu Sher Bahadur Deuba

12th 26 January 2004


Islamabad Zafarullah Khan Jamali

13th 1213 November 2005

Bangladesh Dhaka

Khaleda Zia

14th 34 April 2007


New Delhi

Manmohan Singh

15th 13 August 2008

Sri Lanka


Ratnasiri Wickremanayake

16th 2829 April 2010



Jigme Thinley

17th 10-11 November 2011




Mohamed Nasheed

18th 2013 [edit]See



Kathmandu Baburam Bhattarai


SAARC portal

Asia Cooperation Dialogue Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade Asia-Pacific Trade Agreements Database Asian Clearing Union List of SAARC summits SAARC Consortium on Open and Distance Learning BIMSTEC Mekong-Ganga Cooperation South Asian Economic Union South Asia Free Trade Agreement South Asian Football Federation Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation South Asian Federation of Accountants