The 18th SAARC Summit concluded on Thursday, adopting a 36-point Kathmandu Declaration that pledges to deepen cooperation among member states in the core areas of trade, investment, finance, energy, infrastructure and connectivity.
The top leaders of the SAARC member states have also expressed commitment to reinvigorate SAARC´s regional cooperation and revitalize SAARC as an effective vehicle for fulfilling the developmental aspirations of the people living in South Asia.
SAARC member states have now agreed to hold the Summit every two years against the provision made in the SAARC Charter for holding the Summit every year. The member states have also agreed to hold the Council of Ministers meeting once a year, the Standing Committee meeting at least once a year and the Programming Committee meeting at least twice a year.
The Kathmandu Declaration has agreed to accelerate the process of creating a free trade region, formulate and implement the projects, programs and activities of SAARC in a prioritized, focused and result-oriented manner and launch regional and sub-regional projects in the agreed areas of cooperation, mainly in the areas of poverty alleviation, infrastructure building, connectivity and energy. The SAARC member states have agreed to strengthen the SAARC Development Fund and ensure effective implementation of the SAARC Action Plan on Poverty Alleviation with a view to make South Asia free from poverty and hunger.
Conclusion of 18th SAARC
- Accelerate the process of creating free trade in the region
- Formulate and implement projects, programs and activities of SAARC in a prioritized manner
- Strengthen the SAARC Development Fund
- Ensure effective implementation of the SAARC Action Plan to alleviate poverty in South Asia
- Enhance regional connectivity through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways, energy grids, communications and air links
- Utilize the youth power for socio-economic development, especially through creation of employment opportunities
- Combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and ensure effective cooperation to prevent trafficking in persons, arms and drugs and exploitation of children for forced labor
- Increase agricultural productivity and ensuring food and nutritional security
- Provide quality education, eliminating illiteracy, providing vocational education and training
- Make South Asia an attractive tourist destination by promoting public-private partnership.
The Summit decided to close down three Regional Centres, namely SAARC Documentation Centre in New Delhi, SAARC Human Resource Development Centre in Islamabad and SAARC Information Centre (SIC) in Kathmandu and transfer their mandates to the Secretariat and other mechanisms as part of reform at SAARC institutions and mechanisms for making them more efficient, effective and result-oriented.
The Summit also decided to merge four Regional Centres, namely SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre, SAARC Meteorological Research Centre, SAARC Forestry Centre and SAARC Disaster Management Centre, and create a new Centre named ´SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre´. The location of the Centre is yet to be decided.
Source : Republica