SAARC Charter Day 2021: All you need to know about regional body and its significance
On 8 December 1985, the SAARC Charter was adopted, in Dhaka, during the first summit of the group.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Charter Day is observed annually on 8 December to commemorate the adoption of the SAARC Charter. This year marks the 37th anniversary of the regional group.
History and significance of the SAARC Charter:
On 8 December 1985, the SAARC Charter was adopted, in Dhaka, during the first summit of the group. The Charter was signed by the leaders of eight South Asian nations- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
As mentioned in its charter, the prime focus of SAARC is to work collectively to promote the welfare of people in the region and to improve their standard of living through social progress and economic development.
As per its official website, the aim of SAARC members is to promote stability, peace, and progress in the region. SAARC has organised 18 summits since 1985. It is currently focusing on regional cooperation in all fields of development activity which impact the livelihood of people.
These specialised bodies promote regional cooperation by SAARC members in various fields:
- South Asian University - New Delhi
- SAARC Regional Standards Organization - Dhaka
- SAARC Development Fund - Thimphu
- SAARC Arbitration Council, Islamabad
Apart from these specialised bodies, SAARC regional centres also promote regional cooperation such as the SAARC Agriculture Centre in Dhaka, the Cultural Centre of the group in Colombo, the SAARC Energy Centre in Islamabad and the SAARC Tuberculosis & HIV/AIDS Centre in Kathmandu.
SAARC nations also collaborate in the sectors of social affairs, agriculture and rural development, economic trade and finance, human resource development and tourism, among others.
Why was the SAARC meeting cancelled this year?
In September this year, the meeting of the foreign ministers of SAARC countries was cancelled. The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held in New York. As per Indian Express, the eight members were not on the same page regarding the participation of Afghanistan in the meeting.
While Pakistan challenged the idea of any official from the previous Ghani administration participating in the summit, other SAARC countries decided to keep an empty chair as a symbolic representation of Afghanistan. Moreover, the other members opposed Pakistan's proposal to let the Taliban government send its representative to the meet.
After no consensus, the SAARC summit was officially cancelled by the "host" Nepal.
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