SAARC - Mechanism for cooperation

SAARC – Mechanism for cooperation

(A) The Secretariat –

South Asia was the last region of the world to have a regional organisations and following the footsteps of other
organisations, SAARC also developed a mechanism for cooperation. First of all SAARC established a Headquarter for itself called the Secretariat in Kathmandu which became operational in 1987. It was headed by a Secretary-General and seven directors, besides other office staff. The Secretariat was depository of all official SAARC documents and its responsibility was to organise all the SAARC events & meetings of all levels, coordinate between all the SAARC committees & agencies, linkup between the governments, supervise the implementation of all SAARC projects
& schemes and collect data and records of all the activities.

(B) The Summit –

This is the highest authority in the institutional set up of the Association. It consist of the Heads of State or Government of all member countries, who meet regularly at Summit level. They give final consent to the decisions of the SAARC. Till date 17 SAARC Summits have been held, the last being held at Addu City, the Maldives, on 10-11 November 2011. Initially, the Summit was to be held every year, but later on it is being held every two years. A
convention has been developed to have informal meeting of Heads of State or Government in a free and relaxed atmosphere on the sidelines of the Summit, where discussions can take place on contentious political issues. A Joint Declaration is issued at the end of the Summit, which reviews the progress so far and lays down goals for further actions.

(C) Council of Ministers –

This is the second body comprising the Ministers of Foreign /External Affairs of the Member States. It undertakes: formulation of policies of the Association; review of progress of cooperation under SAARC; decision on new areas of cooperation; establishment of additional mechanism under SAARC, as deemed necessary; and decision on other matters of general interest to SAARC. The Council is mandated to meet twice a year and also to hold its extraordinary
session as and when deemed necessary.

(C) The Standing Committee –

The Standing Committee comprising the Foreign Secretaries of Member States is entrusted with the task of overall monitoring and coordination of programmes; the approval of projects and programmes and the modalities of financing; determining intersectoral priorities; mobilising regional and external resources; and identifying new areas of cooperation. Standing Committee is mandated to meet as often as necessary and submit its reports to the Council of Ministers.

(D) The Technical Committees-

The core activities of the SAARC were carried out under the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA), consisting of a number of Technical Committees on agreed areas of cooperation. The Technical Committees formulate specialised programmes and prepare projects in their respective fields under the IPA. They are responsible for monitoring the implementation of such activities and submit their reports to the Standing Committee through the Programming Committee. They also work to bring clarity and prevent overlapping of the work. At present following

Technical Committees are operational :-

 Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
 Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities
 Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children
 Technical Committee on Science and Technology
 Technical Committee on Transport
 Technical Committee on Environment

(E) Programming Committees –

Programming Committees are set up to assist the Standing Committee in matters relating to: Selection of regional projects, including their location, cost-sharing modalities among the Member States, and mobilisation of external resources; Inter-sectoral priority of Work Programme; and Review of the Calendar of Activities. It generally meets preceding the sessions of the Standing Committee. It is also mandated to convene on stand-alone basis to coordinate implementation of the approved SAARC programmes and activities.

(F) Working Groups –

Working Groups (WG) is a special arrangement to formulate and over see programmes and activities within the framework of SAARC to strengthen and promote regional cooperation in their respective areas. The WGs coordinate, monitor and evaluate programmes in this regard. In recommending target-bound programmes and activities, they would also propose mechanisms and sources of finance to implement them. Further, they would also carry out the directives emanating from SAARC higher bodies.

Following WGs are in force at present :
 Working Group on Biotechnology
 Working Group on Energy
 Working Group on Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
 Working Group on Tourism

(G) Regional Centers –

The SAARC has developed a unique mechanism of Regional Centers to support the Secretariat. These are established
in Member States and managed by Governing Boards comprising representatives from all the Member States, SAARC Secretary- General and the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of the Host Government. The Director of the Centre acts as Member Secretary to the Governing Board which reports to the Programming Committee.
 SAARC Agricultural Centre (SAC), Dhaka
 SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC), Dhaka
 SAARC Tuberculosis Centre (STC), Kathmandu
 SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC), New Delhi
 SAARC Human Resources Development Centre (SHRDC), Islamabad
 SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (SCZMC), Maldives
 SAARC Information Centre (SIC), Nepal
 SAARC Energy Centre (SEC), Pakistan
 SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC), India
 SAARC Forestry Centre (SFC), Bhutan
 SAARC Cultural Centre (SCC), Sri Lanka