South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Representatives of the Saarc member states in a two-day inter-governmental meeting that began yesterday have almost finalised the draft of ‘Saarc Charter of Democracy’, said Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.

Emerging from the ongoing meeting at Hotel Sheraton in the city, Quayes said at a press briefing that they would come up with the complete outcome on the draft today.

“We’ve progressed much…we can say nearly 80 percent work is done. We hope we’ll be able to come up with the final outcome today,” he said.

Asked about the contents of the draft, Quayes declined to divulge anything. He said, “We’ve the responsibility of preparing a draft…it’ll go through two more processes once the draft is done. We’re working on it and all the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries are very sincere about the issue.”

Earlier, the two-day meeting tasked with finalising the draft of the ‘Saarc Charter of Democracy’ began at Hotel Sheraton in the morning.

Representatives including parliamentarians, high commissioners, high officials from the eight member countries–Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives–are attending the meeting.

Leaders of the Saarc at the 16th Summit in Thimphu, appreciating that all member states had evolved into multiparty democracies, underlined the challenges faced by them in ensuring effective, efficient, transparent and accountable government.

In this regard, they emphasised on regional cooperation to strengthen good governance.

As per a decision of the Summit, Bangladesh circulated the Concept Paper on Charter of Democracy and convened the inter-governmental meeting in Dhaka.

Recognising the inherent link between democracy and development, the member states expressed their commitment to have a Saarc Charter of Democracy, which will strengthen democratic institutions and process, promote practice of democracy at all levels of government and society, and promote rule of law.

The ongoing meeting is examining the broad principles on democracy for inclusion in a regionally agreed document and also how the Saarc member states, people’s representatives and civil society can work towards strengthening democracy and democratic practices in South Asia.

Source: The Daily Star – 05.09.2010