South Asian Association for regional cooperation (SAARC)

There are many regional organizations all over world formed for achieving one or the other goal and objective. In this article I would like to focus on the various objectives of SAARC, its principles and achievement as a regional organization.

A regional organization is a voluntary association of sovereign states within certain area or having common interest in that area. Chapter 8 of United Nation deals with the regional organization. This concept being used by modern nation states for satisfying various needs. These organization are not bounded due to any geographical boundaries. Regional organization are the international organization which promotes institutionalization relation between its member states in context of context of regional development. Common concern and interest are the key element behind formation of any regional organization. After the end of bipolar world structure in 1990's there was drastic increase in regional organization as an alternative center of political and economic power. Regional organization have proved to be helpful in achieving peaceful and cooperative regional order thereby producing prosperous economies. Some of the major regional organization are as follows-NATO, SARRC, ASEAN, European Union etc. There are basically two types of regional organization based on its major objective. These are military regional organization and functional regional organization.

Origin of SAARC

SAARC is an organization of eight countries towards the economic and political subjects formed by Ziaur Rahman. SAARC headquartered is situated in Kathmandu, Nepal.The eight members who constitute SSARC are India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Srilanka, and Afghanistan. Afghanistan joined in the 14th summit. This organization came into existence in December, 1985. Since its formation SAARC has continuously worked on key area of environmental issues, economic and social developmental issues. The progress of SAARC can be said slow but have amazing impact of social economic and personal relations of member countries of SSARC. It has propagated people to people contact on large scale and impoverished the condition and promoted over all development. The major observer countries of SARRC are-Iran, China, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, Australia, South Korea, USA and European Union. The first summit of SARRC is done in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The present general secretary of SAARC is Ahmed Salem since March,2012.

Aims and objectives of SAARC

Article 1 of the SARRC Charter includes aim and objectives of SAARC. The various aims and objectives of SAARC are as follows-
  1. To promote welfare and betterment of the quality of life of the people of South Asia.
  2. To provide international platform for work on cultural, social and economic development and provide opportunity to the people of member countries of SAARC.
  3. To promote collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia.
  4. To promote mutual trust ,understanding and appreciation of one another's problems.
  5. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in economic, social, cultural and scientific fields.
  6. To promote co-operation on similar areas with other developing countries.
  7. To promote co-operation on international forum on the issues of common interests to members state.
  8. Co-operating with other international and regional organization with similar objectives.

Principles(Article 2 SAARC Charter)

  1. Each member nation is to co-operate by respecting the principles of sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, political independence will be used in context of its working. Either big or small nation, all will be given equal representation.
  2. There shall be no interference in the internal affair of any county.
  3. Countries will understand their bilateral or multilateral platform for co-operation. So to protect SAARC.
  4. Any bilateral conflict or co-operation will be done in considering the interest of all countries.

Major areas of co-operation

SARRC have certain major area of co-operation on which it pays more attention than any other area. The various major area of co-operation within SAARC are as follows-Agriculture and Rural development, Biotechnology Culture advancement, Economic and Trade, Education, Energy, Environment, Finance, Funding mechanism, Information Communication, Media, People to people contact, Poverty alleviation, Science and technology, Security aspects, Social development and Tourism. In agricultural and rural development SAARC have attained much, it focuses on on the agricultural development so as to provide food security to all. The development in in the areas of economic and trade is noticeable. They even lay much emphasis on the common platform for science and technology co-operation. Hence due to all these major co-operation SAARC has attained much more which can be categorized as its achievements.

Achievements of SAARC

SAARC came into existence in year 1985 and since last 27 years of its establishment had accounted for many achievements. The various achievements are as follows-
  1. Integrated Program me of Action(IPA)-SIPA for the nine agreed area have been launched i.e. agriculture, rural development, science and technology, health, transport, sports, arts, culture and population activities.
  2. Economic achievements-The major achievements made by SAARC in the economic field are as follows-
    • SAPTA(SAARC preferential trading arrangement)was signed on 7 December, 19995 and came into force since 2001 which promoted trade liberalization in South Asia.
    • Signed an agreement of mutual assistance in custom matters establishment of SAARC arbitration council.
    • In 13th summit, mutual administrative assistance in tax matter and avoidance of double taxation were signed.
    • SAFTA(South Asian Free Trade Area) was signed in Islamabad in January 2004 and came into force in 2006.
    • SAARC chamber of commerce and industry (SCCI) came into force to encourages and facilitates business co-operation in private sector.
    • SAARC system of finance promote co-operation on financial matters. It regulate meetings of governors of Central bank of member state to discuss on the issue of financial management and development.
    • SAARC promoted agricultural development by the development and application of Agrinet project promoting agricultural knowledge in South Asia.
  3. Literacy and education-The major development in the field of education and literacy are as follows-
    • In the field of education, the member states co-operate through forum of(SACODIL) i.e.SAARC consortium on open and distance learning and head of universities grants commissions.
    • Till 2013 going to establish a common university for education in Delhi.
  4. poverty alleviation-The major development regarding poverty alleviation are as follows-
    • Regional food security essence have been signed, to which India's contribution is 1lac 53 thousand ton of food grain.
    • Promoted global objective of shelter for all.
  5. Terrorism and Drug trafficking-the major development regarding terrorism and drug trafficking are as follows-
    • Convention on terrorism was signed in November,1987 and came into force on 27th August, 1988.
    • SAARC convention on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances signed on November, 1990 and came into force on 15 September, 1993.
    • Conference on co-operation on police matter exists.
    • SAARC terrorist offences monitoring desk(STOMD) and SAARC drug offences monitoring desk(SDOMD) existed in Colombo which maintains its regular flow of information.
  6. South Asian Development Fund(SADF)-To promote fund operational at the earliest SADF came into existence.
  7. People to people contact-The major development in the field of people to people contact are as follows-
    • SAARC chamber of commerce and SARRC law enhanced people to people contact.
    • SAVE(SARRC audio visual exchange) was implemented.
    • The library of SAARC constituted periodicals, journals, magazines and annual report which is available to common people increasing contacts.
  8. Science and technologies-It has produced 9 technical publication on subjects like transfer of form technology research and extension system, quarantine and physiotherapy law, plant genetic resources technologies on livestock and fishery. It has produced computers and communicate information i.e. audio-visual media production.

Problems of SAARC

SARRC being a regional organization prone to certain criticism Man Mohan Singh called the 25years journey of SAARC, "a glass half empty" P.M. of Bhutan Jigmi.Y.thinley SARRC losing its flow from core ideas and issues such as poverty, food security etc. The various criticism of SAARC are as follows-
  • Big brother syndrome developed by the members towards India. Among the member states, member have the feeling that India tries to dominate the function and activities of SAARC and hence this narrow attitude of members of SAARC results in decreasing co-operation which could have provided more opportunity if this ill feeling have not developed within members towards India.
  • Political instability due to different political system-SARRC constitutes member of South Asia which have large variety of different political system. Pakistan promotes military rule, India promotes democracy, Nepal have federal republic, Myanmar have military dictatorship, Bangladesh like India have parliamentary democracy and Afghanistan have Islamic Republic currently with a parliament. So there is so much difference regarding the political system and this creates a political instability.
  • Regional and cultural differences exists- South Asian countries constitutes large variety regional and cultural differences which hinders the path of co-operation due to difference in priority of the interest and concluding common interest arises to be a big problem.
  • Lack of financial resources and technology-South Asian countries constitutes mainly of developing countries and they lack financial resources and advance technologies as compared to the European Union and other regional organization. Many plans cannot attain its success because of the lack of financial fund .
  • Internal interference by external actors-It has been marked that from time to time SAARC faces the problem of involvement of external actors and they to certain extend effect the decision and working by internal interference.
  • Internal problem of member states-SAARC countries are developing countries and all of them have various internal problems constituting social economic and developmental and growth issues. In this context the contribution of member countries towards regional and global development lacks behind and this led to negligence which can be seen and understand by the less count of SAARC submits.
  • Bilateral disputes and differences- SAARC members are engaged in various bilateral disputes and differences . The difference between India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh provides major hindrance for the development of working of SAARC as regional organization. The border and river disputes between these member countries makes the SAARC environment hostile for providing common platform for development of all nations.
  • Competitive economies of member states- There is a huge competitiveness regarding the economies of member state for example tea trade with India and Srilanka, jute in case of Bangladesh and India and finally the outward linkages of economies of member states. This competitiveness at one part has its effect on the common platform of SAARC and restricts the co-operation to avail much benefit for all


Hence due to all these drawbacks there are only 17th summit instead of 25 summits. But despite of all these problems and drawbacks SAARC is growing to its success. Thus in the given circumstances there are mixed tendencies of co-operation and differences. The success of SAARC depends upon the role of three actors-India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. India should not depend on other member states to come forward and take action. SAARC at present a most favorable environment for co-operation and mutual benefit as compared to its condition 27years back. And looking towards its development in the the agricultural, science and technology is of great importance. Further it provides platform to curb the bilateral issues between the member countries and spread the hope of co-operation and friendship among the member countries and promoting global peace.


Guest Author: Zafeer ahmed09 Oct 2016

This is one of the best ways of understanding about SARC for a student. Thanks.

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