The Indian Subcontinent, though mired in poverty and overpopulation, contains one of the world's richest natural resource bases. As political and economic forces push the region to development, the future of the South Asian environment remains unclear. The countries of the region still face the question of how to transform their environmental resolve into true cooperation. In 1985, representatives from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh came together in Dhaka to discuss worsening conditions in their countries. Agreeing that many of the problems of each country were common to the region as a whole, the assembly formally identified the need for international cooperation. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was thus formed to respond to the growing need for transnational action.
[...] Subregionalism in Asia: ASEAN and SAARC Experiences. UBS Publishers' Distributors Ltd., New Delhi [xviii] Kalam, supra n [xix] SAARC Charter, supra n Article section 1. Kalam, supra n “low-key diplomacy has moved [ASEAN] speedily toward both integrative endeavour and faster growth.” 139 [xxi] SAARC charter, supra n Introduction, paragraph 1. [xxii] Social Charter, supra n Article II, section 2 [xxiii] SAARC—A Profile. SAARC Secretariat. Free Online Publications.
[...] While at the national level effects have been imperceptible, at the level of civic society SAARC has done well forming collegial bodies and encouraging transnational scholarly collaboration. Witnesses to this effectiveness are two separate environmental reports that have been commissioned: the Regional Study on the Environment and the Regional Study on the Greenhouse Effect and its Impact on the Region. Still, the recommendations of these reports are admittedly not implemented in member countries.[xxiv] SAARC member nations would be taking a major step forward if they drafted a treaty with the relative duties of each country determined by these studies and other economic indicators. [...]
[...] In fact, the critically lagging pace of implementation in SAARC activities has been named the approach.[xvii] Stemming from the delays between proposals and primary implementation, there is a general opinion among interested parties that SAARC has proceeded at a pace too slow for cooperative programs to be effective. This and the image of the institution as “high profile and low performance” (due to the celebratory nature of the annual summits despite their few tangible and immediate results) have eroded the credibility of the institution, especially with respect to other Asian regional cooperatives such as Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).[xviii] It is, however, characteristic of international bodies like SAARC to be plagued by inertia, and South Asia is a particularly infertile political climate for cooperation. [...]
[...] [xii] SAARC Charter, supra n Article VI. [xiii] Gupta, supra n 25-28 [xiv] Social Charter, supra n Introduction. Social Charter, supra n Article X. implementation of the Social Charter shall be facilitated by a National Coordination Committee or any appropriate national mechanism as may be decided in each country. Information on such mechanism will be exchanged between States Parties through the SAARC Secretariat (emphasis mine). [xvi] Evans, J. Warren. Issues and Opportunities for Subregional Cooperation in the Environment Sector. Powerpoint Presentation, Inception Meeting of Country Advisors. [...]
[...] In his 1997 address[xxx] to the SAARC environment ministers' meeting, Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom asked, “might not environmental disasters be the mirror wherein we see and know humanity's own follies?” With the tsunami devastation of December 2004 hovering in recent memory, the ministers will perhaps be reminded of the power of the environment to stop all human activity—and of the need for joint action on past proposals. References: Charter of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Dhaka “Follow-up of the Eleventh SAARC Summit.” Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal. [...]
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