The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and geopolitical cooperation among eight member nations that are primarily located in South Asia continent. Its secretariat is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The idea for the SAARC was proposed on May 2, 1980, by Ziaur Rahman, then president of Bangladesh. The founding countries met for the first time in April 1981, and then in 1985, they created the SAARC Charter. They sought peace, stability, amity, and progress including improving the quality of life for all involved nations.
The first summit held in Dhaka on 8 December in 1985 led to its official establishment by the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan was the first to have been accessed in the physical enlargement of the SAARC in 2007.
The SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987. Its role is to coordinate and monitor the implementation of SAARC activities, service the meetings of the association and serve as the channel of communication between SAARC and other international organizations.
The Secretariat comprises the secretary-general, seven directors, and the general services staff. The secretary-general is appointed by the Council of Ministers on the principle of rotation, for a non-renewable tenure of three years.
The SAARC policies aim to promote welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate socio-cultural development in the region. Permanent diplomatic relations have been established with the EU, the UN, and other multilateral entities.
The official meetings of leaders of each nation are held; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. The 18th SAARC Summit would be held in Kathmandu, Nepal in November 2014.
The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was discussed in at least three conferences: the Asian Relations Conference held in New Delhi on April 1947; the Baguio Conference in the Philippines on May 1950; and the Colombo Powers Conference held in Sri Lanka on April 1954.
SAARC does not have an official anthem yet as other regional organizations. However a poem by poet-diplomat Abhay K has spurred the search for an official SAARC Anthem Nepal’s foreign minister has expressed the need for SAARC anthem to connect SAARC nations.
SAARC activities are mainly concentrated in the following areas: agricultural and rural, biotechnology, culture, economic, energy, environment, funding mechanism, human resource development, information communication and media, people to people contacts, poverty alleviation, science and technology, security aspects, social development, tourism and, trade and finance.