Information about South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):>

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in South Asia. The member countries of this organization have a population (about 1.5 billion).

Objective of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

The main objective of the organization is to work towards a common goal of achieving social, cultural, economic development for all the people belonging to the above regions. The Regional Integrated Program covers the following aspects:-

  1. Agriculture and Rural Development
  2. Women, youth and children
  3. Health and Population Activities
  4. Science & Technology & Meteorology
  5. Environment and Forestry
  6. Human resource development, and
  7. Transport

Working groups have also been established in the following areas:

  • Biotechnology
  • Information and communications technology
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Energy
  • Sightseeing

Brief description of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

Full name of SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
SAARC Establishment 8 December 1985, Dhaka (Bangladesh)
Number of Member Countries in SAARC Total Countries 8
Number of Observers in SAARC 9
SAARC Headquarters Kathmandu, Nepal
SAARC satellite launched for South Asia In 2017
First Secretary General of SAARC Abul Ahsan (Bangladesh)
Current Secretary General of SAARC Esala Ruwan Verakone (Sri Lanka) - assumed office from 1 March 2020
Last member to join SAARC Afghanistan (April 2007)
Final saarc conference 19th SAARC Summit in Pakistan (Cancelled)

Names of the following member states in SAARC:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

Names of Observers involved in SAARC:

  • South Asian University (SAU) - India
  • South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) - Dhaka
  • SAARC Development Fund (SDF) - Bhutan
  • SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO) - Pakistan

Observer States of SAARC:

  • Australia
  • China
  • The European Union
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Mauritius
  • United States of america
  • Korea

Potential future members in SAARC:
Myanmar has requested the Observer to elevate its status to a unified member state. Similarly, Turkey and Russia have also applied for membership.

History of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

The idea of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was first mooted in May 1980. At that time the foreign secretaries of the then seven countries met for the first time in April 1981 in Colombo. The potential for regional cooperation was recorded in five key areas and later on in time other important areas were also added. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was established when its Declaration was formally adopted on 8 December 1985 by the Heads of Government of India or Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

List of Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

Name of general secretary Tenure Country
Abul Ahsan 16 January 1985 to 15 October 1989 Bangladesh
K. Kishore Bhargava 17 October 1989 to 31 December 1991 India
Ibrahim Zaki 01 January 1992 to 31 December 1993 Maldives
Yadav K. Sylwal 01 Jan 1994 to 31 Dec 1995 Nepal
Naeem Hasan 01 Jan 1996 to 31 Dec 1998 Pakistan
Nihal Rodrigo 01 Jan 1999 to 10 Jan 2002 Sri Lanka
Q. A. Rahim 11 January 2002 to 28 February 2005 Bangladesh
Chenzaib Doraji 01 March 2005 to 29 February 2008 Bhutan
Sheel Sharma 01 March 2008 to 28 February 2011 India
Fatimath Saeed 01 March 2011 to 11 March 2012 Maldives
Ahmed Saleem 12 March 2012 to 28 February 2014 Maldives
Arjun Bahadur Thapa 01 March 2014 to 01 March 2017 Nepal
Amjad Hussain B. Sealdah 01 March 2017 to 31 April 2020 Pakistan
Esala Ruwan Verakone 01 March 2020 To Present Sri Lanka

Structure of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

The structure of SAARC is as follows:-

  1. Council - It is the highest policy-making body. The council is represented by the heads of government of the respective member states.
  2. Council of Ministers - The Council of Ministers consists of the Minister of External Affairs and they usually meet twice a year.

Functions of the Council of Ministers- (i) Policy making, (ii) Review the progress of regional cooperation, (iii) Identify new areas of cooperation, and (iv) Establish additional mechanisms as needed.

Functions of the Standing Committee- This includes the Foreign Secretariats of the member countries. The main functions of the Standing Committee are:- (i) Monitoring and coordinating programmes, (ii) Dealing with funding modalities, and (iii) Mobilizing cooperation within and outside the region.

Functions of the Secretariat- It is headed by the Secretary-General appointed by the Council of Ministers. The main functions of the Secretariat are to: (i) Coordinate and execute the activities conducted by SAARC, (iii) Supervise SAARC meetings, (iii) Act as a communication link between SAARC and other international summits and forums, etc. . Apart from this, there are other three committees in SAARC, which include Standing Committee, Programming Committee, Technical Committee.

Principles of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):

  • Respect the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and mutual benefit.
  • Such cooperation would not be a substitute for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, but would complement them. Such cooperation shall not be inconsistent with bilateral and multilateral obligations.

SAARC Special Bodies- Special bodies of SAARC are created by the member states of SAARC and they are structured separately from the regional centres. Management is taken care of by the representatives of the member states, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the host government. The list of special bodies of SAARC is as follows:

  1. SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO) - Pakistan
  2. SAARC Development Fund (SDF) - Bhutan
  3. South Asian University (SAU) - India
  4. South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) - Dhaka

SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO) - Pakistan:- SAARC Arbitration Council was set up on 25 August 2011 whose office is mandated to provide a legal framework/forum within the region for fair and efficient settlement of commercial, industrial, trade, banking, investment and other such disputes in Pakistan . It is an inter-governmental body. 

SAARC Development Fund (SDF) - Bhutan The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) was formally established during the 13th SAARC Summit in April 2010 with the primary objective of funding project-based cooperation. The SAARC Development Fund is governed by a board consisting of representatives of the finance ministries of the member states. The Governing Council of the SDF (Ms Finance Minister) oversees the functioning of the Board. 

South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) - Dhaka The South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) has its secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was established to achieve and enhance coordination and cooperation among SAARC member states in the areas of standardization and conformity assessment, with the objective of facilitating inter-regional trade for the region and harmonizing standards for access to global markets. is to be developed. 

South Asian University (SAU) - India South Asian University (SAU) is an international university, located in India. The Degrees and Certificates awarded by SAU are at par with the respective Degrees and Certificates awarded by National Universities/Institutions. South Asian Regional Cooperation 

Organization (SAARC) Latest Update (2021) - In January 2021, Ministry of External Affairs, India has announced that indigenously manufactured Covid vaccines will be supplied to SAARC member countries in a phased manner.

  1. The Ministry of External Affairs said that India will supply COVID-19 vaccines to SAARC countries under grant-in-aid.
  2. Recently SAARC member countries turned down Pakistan's offer to host the pending summit meeting of the grouping.
  3. The proposal to launch a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to India was positively welcomed by the SAARC countries. Within a few days, all countries voluntarily contributed to it except Pakistan.

Important facts related to SAARC Organization:

  1. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established on 08 December 1985.
  2. Its secretariat is in Kathmandu (Nepal).
  3. SAARC has 8 member countries. Its members include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan.
  4. Abul Ahsan of Bangladesh was the first Secretary-General of SAARC, whose term was from 16 January 1987 to 15 October 1989.
  5. Fatima Dhiyana Saeed of Maldives was the first woman Secretary General of SAARC.
  6. From India Kishore Kant Bhargava (Years 1989–1991) and Sheel Kant Sharma (Years 2008-2011) have served as Secretary General of SAARC.
  7. The first conference of SAARC was held in Dhaka in December 1985.
  8. SAARC Day is celebrated on 08 December every year.
  9. Before 2007, SAARC had seven members.
  10. Afghanistan became its eighth member at the 14th summit of the association in April 2007.
  11. The organization is governed by the Secretary-General appointed by the Council of Ministers of the member countries, who are appointed for 3 years in alphabetical order of the countries.
  12. The Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation was adopted by the Foreign Ministers in New Delhi in 1983.

  Last update :  Tue 13 Sep 2022
  Download :  PDF
  Post Views :  6783
  Post Category :  World Politics