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SAAPE 3rd General Assembly DECLARATION

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We the citizens of South Asia, representatives of civil societies from Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, met in the Third General Assembly of
the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication in Kathmandu from 8 to 9 August 2009. This
Declaration represents the collective will of the members present to work against neo-liberalism. We
embrace sustainable development for the definitive eradication of poverty and the betterment of the
lives of all people in the region, particularly those living in poverty and without rights, those
suffering injustice and the effects of conflict and discrimination.

We call on all governments of the region, and the international community as a whole to
unreservedly ensure the universal right of all to life, shelter, social security and livelihood. All the
hard won rights must be preserved and built upon. We demand that all governments of the region
recognize the global failure of the neo-liberal model to bring equitable development to all. The
global economic crisis is symptomatic of the broader failures of commoditization of the world’s
resources and exploitation of nature.

While we recognize the threat of climate change the solution does not lie in either displacing people
from the forest and land, or in international carbon trade. The International Financial Institutions
have accentuated land grab and displacement of forest and rural communities, loss of traditional
livelihoods and a sharp increase in hunger and farmer suicides. We demand a reversal of neo-liberal
economic policies and the restoration of public management and ownership. The restructuring of
South Asian economies has led to the loss of millions of jobs and rampant poverty and
intensification of poverty in both urban and rural communities. Elitist growth-led economic
strategies have reduced possibilities for overall livelihood concerns in economic policy.

Neo-liberal policies have led to an attack on democratic struggles including the use of anti-terror
laws against people’s movements. The states cannot claim impunity since these are in violation of
international human rights law. In view of the crushing debt burden there must be cancellation of
debt by the IFIs and Northern lenders. South Asian governments must not borrow any more funds
from the IFIs.

Therefore, we commit here to redoubling our efforts as a united South Asian community to act in
solidarity with people’s movements in the region- Dalits, indigenous peoples, labour (including
migrant workers), fisherfolk, women, peasants, refugees, minorities, displaced peoples, and all
other excluded peoples. The access of youth to secure futures must be ensured. Travel within South
Asia should be visa free. Our solidarity extends to people and movements worldwide.

We demand governments to recognize and support the emerging diverse development alternatives
initiated by communities that have successfully incorporated principles of gender justice, ecological
sustainability and participatory democracy. Adequate resources must be allocated to implement
these alternatives on a national and regional scale. The state must respect, protect and fulfill the
basic legal, social and economic rights of all citizens, including food sovereignty. This will require
increased prioritization of financial resources to this end.

The people of South Asia are witness to the increased militarism and militarization in the region,
and the heightened arms race and trade, while poverty and destitution, civilian deaths, and

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insecurity are on the rise. There is a need for a collective action by South Asian states to combat
extremism and to significantly reduce military expenditures. South Asia should be declared a
nuclear- weapons free zone. Security in the region can only be achieved by just and sustainable
social and economic development. All disputes between South Asian countries should be resolved by
transparent negotiations. The people of South Asia deserve clean and people- friendly
governments.

We resolve to struggle against all forces that create poverty, conflict and violence. Our governments
must fulfill their constitutional obligations to secure peace and social justice.

9 August 2009