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SAARC Charter of Democracy  

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Promise of equality of treatment
Promise of equality of treatment

Kathmandu,17 Nov 2014: The SAARC Charter of Democracy was adopted in February 2011 in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The SAARC member countries signed the Charter of Democracy to reinforce their commitment to improving the socio-economic scenario in South Asia and to provide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity, freedom and social justice and to realize their full potential as enshrined in the SAARC Charter. The Charter is inspired by the general objectives of South Asian states to promote peace, freedom and social justice.

The countries have committed to advancement of the rule of law, liberty and equal rights of all citizens. The countries have affirmed their stance on pursuit of inclusion, good governance, and poverty alleviation, especially the elimination of extreme poverty, seen as essential to promotion and consolidation of democracy.

The focus of the South Asian countries has been to strengthen democratic institutions and processes in all national endeavors, and decentralization and devolution. The Charter calls for ensuring gender mainstreaming in government and society.

The Charter encourages all democratic forces in South Asia, including the elected representatives of the people, to unite against any unconstitutional change in government in any South Asian country, and work towards the restoration of democracy in keeping with SAARC Charter.

The Charter of Democracy upholds participatory democracy characterized by free, fair and credible elections, and elected legislatures and local bodies.

Its objective is also to inculcate democratic values in the society through education and awareness building.

The 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit is being held in Kathmandu from 26-27 November with the theme ‘Deeper Integration for Peace, Progress and Prosperity’.

The SAARC is under spotlight yet again not without hopes that it would emerge as a vibrant regional organization with groundbreaking decisions to implement the pledges made in the past and not be constrained as a ‘talking shop’. There are many agendas on the table ranging from poverty eradication, climate change, transportation, economic collaboration and health.

We are obliged to retrace our history and to find that SAARC has made more commitments and promises on papers and fallen way short of delivery. Each of the SAARC member countries –Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – are struggling to cope with internecine strife within and marred by corruption. The countries are preoccupied in facing their own problems. The common issues which are troubling the South Asian countries are magnified by false and pretentious pledge of regional cooperation.

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