- We renew our commitment to the objectives and principles of SAARC
and pledge to reinvigorate cooperation to realize peace, amity,
progress and prosperity of all peoples of South Asia.
- We affirm our determination to create an inclusive, just and
equitable partnership for peace, development and prosperity.
Satisfactory progress has been made in the SAARC Preferential
Trading Arrangement (SAPTA). The signing of the Framework Agreement
on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is a major milestone. It
is important to maintain this momentum and move towards further
broadening of economic cooperation and to ensure equitable
distribution of benefits of trade and cater to the special needs of
the small and LDC Member States by providing them special and
- We reiterate our commitment made at the 11th SAARC Summit at
Kathmandu in January 2002 for the creation of a South Asian Economic
Union. In this context, we underline that creation of a suitable
political and economic environment would be conducive to the
realization of this objective.
- A study on creating a South Asian Energy Cooperation including
the concept of an Energy Ring should be undertaken by the Working
Group on Energy.
- For accelerated and balanced economic growth it is essential to
strengthen transportation, transit and communication links across
- Public and private sector cooperation, particularly joint
ventures, holds great promise. It is important to move towards
project cooperation under SAARC. Prospects for setting up of a South
Asian Development Bank should be examined by the SAARCFINANCE and
report through the Council of Ministers.
- Priority attention should also be given to the need for
harmonization of standards, simplification of custom procedures, as
well as cooperation among the central banks.
- Development of tourism within South Asia could bring economic,
social and cultural dividends. There is a need for increasing
cooperation to jointly promote tourism within South Asia as well as
to promote South Asia as a tourism destination, inter alia, by
improved air links. To achieve this and to commemorate the twentieth
year of the establishment of SAARC, the year 2005 is designated as "South
Asia Tourism Year", for the success of which, each member would
individually and jointly organize special events.
- SAARC members should continue to safeguard their collective
interests in multilateral forums by discussing, coordinating and
exchanging information with a view to adopting common positions,
where appropriate, on various issues.
- We recognise poverty alleviation as the greatest challenge facing
the peoples of South Asia and declare poverty alleviation as the
overarching goal of all SAARC activities. It is imperative to relate
regional cooperation to the actual needs of the people.
- Provision of basic needs, promotion of literacy, and better
health care are regional priorities. It is important to undertake
effective and sustained poverty reduction programmes through
pro-poor growth strategies and other policy interventions with
specific sectoral targets.
- The Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation, prepared by the
meeting of Finance and Planning Ministers in Islamabad in 2002, is
- The reconstituted Independent South Asian Commission for Poverty
Alleviation (ISACPA) has done commendable work. An effective
strategy should be devised to implement suggestions made in its
Report "Our Future Our Responsibility". In this context,
ISACPA should continue in an advocacy role. It should prepare and
submit to the next SAARC summit a comprehensive and realistic
blue-print setting out SAARC Development Goals for the next five
years in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, health and
environment giving due regard, among others, to the suggestions made
in the ISACPA report.
- The SAARC Secretariat should periodically update and submit
Regional Poverty Profiles.
- SAARC should continue to collaborate with international
organizations and UN agencies in the field of poverty alleviation.
Arrangements for SAARC Food Security Reserve should be made more
effective. We also recommend the establishment of a Regional Food
Bank for which a concept paper should be prepared.
- Investment in human resources is critical for future development
of South Asia. It is, therefore, essential to establish a network of
centres of higher learning and training, and Skill Development
Institutes (SDIs) across South Asia. In this context, the role of
the SAARC Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC) is important.
Science and Technology
- Strengthening of scientific and technological co-operation across
the region is fundamental to accelerating the pace of economic and
social development. Sharing of scientific and technological
expertise, joint research and development and industrial application
of higher technology should be encouraged and facilitated.
- We hail the signing of the SAARC Social Charter as a historic
development, which would have a far-reaching impact on the lives of
millions of South Asians. Issues covered under the Charter, such as
poverty alleviation, population stabilization, empowerment of women,
youth mobilization, human resource development, promotion of health
and nutrition, and protection of children are keys to the welfare
and well being of all South Asians.
- Progress has been made in the constitution of SAARC Autonomous
Advocacy Group of Prominent Women Personalities (SAWAG). To enable
women to contribute to the socio-economic development, there is a
need for SAARC to encourage women entrepreneurs in the region.
- Member States should move towards an early ratification of the
two Conventions on Child Welfare and Trafficking in Women and
Children for Prostitution.
- Easy and affordable health care, and prevention and treatment of
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other serious communicable diseases are
priorities. The year 2004 is declared as the "SAARC Awareness
Year for TB and HIV/AIDS". The SAARC Secretariat should
effectively implement the proposed programmes on the observance of
the SAARC Awareness Year and develop a regional strategy through a
consultative process and collaborate closely with the Joint UN
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other international organizations
and civil society.
- The important initiative taken by the Maldives in hosting the
Emergency Meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers on SARS Epidemic in
Male on 29 April 2003, was a welcome development.
- As agreed by the SAARC Health Ministers' Conference held recently
in New Delhi, a SAARC Health Surveillance Centre and a Rapid
Deployment Health Response System should be set up to deal with the
emerging and re-emerging diseases as well as to establish a network
between various institutions dealing with malaria and other vector
borne diseases in the Member States. Also, documentation of
traditional knowledge to safeguard Intellectual Property Rights
(IPRs) in medicine needs attention.
- The importance of cooperation in medical expertise and
pharmaceuticals as well as in the field of traditional medicine
requires elaboration of a SAARC Plan of Action that should be
developed in the shortest possible time.
- We take pride in the rich cultural mosaic of the peoples of South
Asia and underline the need for preservation of traditional skills
and crafts, and promotion of cultural exchanges between nations.
- We welcome the establishment of a SAARC Cultural Centre in Kandy,
which will serve as a symbol of South Asian shared cultural
- It is important to undertake and reinforce regional cooperation
in the conservation of our water resources and environment,
pollution prevention and control as well as our preparedness to deal
with natural calamities. We welcome the early establishment of the
Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives.
- The early and effective implementation of the SAARC Environment
Plan of Action is important. We further stress the early submission
of country state of the environment reports to expedite the
preparation of a SAARC state of environment report and the
commissioning of the work on drafting a Regional Environment Treaty.
- We condemn terrorist violence in all its forms and manifestations
and note that people of South Asia continue to face a serious threat
- We are convinced that terrorism, in all its forms and
manifestations, is a challenge to all states and to all of humanity,
and cannot be justified on any ground, whatsoever. Terrorism
violates the fundamental values of the United Nations and the SAARC
Charter and constitutes one of the most serious threats to
international peace and security. We agree to fully implement the
relevant international conventions to which we are parties.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the SAARC Regional Convention on
Suppression of Terrorism, which, among others, recognizes the
seriousness of the problem of terrorism as it affects the security,
stability, and development of the region.
- The signing of the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional
Convention on Suppression of Terrorism to deal effectively with
financing of terrorism is a further manifestation of our
determination to eliminate all forms and manifestations of terrorism
from South Asia.
- We welcome the institution of the SAARC Award on the basis of a
concept paper drawn up by His Majesty's Government of Nepal and
decide to present the award during the Summits in future. The Award
will honour and encourage outstanding individuals and organizations
within the region in the fields of peace, development, poverty
alleviation, and in other areas of regional cooperation.
Information and Communication
- We recognize the vital role that information and media can play
in the promotion of peace, progress and harmony in South Asia. In
this context, the initiatives for introducing regular SAARC
Roundup and SAARC News programmes for telecast and
broadcast on National TV and Radio Channels respectively in Member
Countries is a welcome development. We agree to the establishment of
a SAARC Information Centre in Kathmandu.
- SAARC should endeavour to bring the benefits of information and
communications technology to all peoples of the region, bridging the
digital divide and assist in the development of knowledge based
SAARC Integrated Programme of Action (SIPA)
- We note with satisfaction the progress achieved in regional
cooperation through SIPA. The commitment to SIPA must be matched by
a corresponding allocation of resources for it.
Strengthening of the SAARC Secretariat
- We agree to strengthen the capacity of the SAARC Secretariat. In
this regard a Committee comprising of a Member from each Member
State should meet soon and submit its recommendations within three
months for consideration of the next session of the Council of
Ministers. The Secretary General would coordinate the work of the
Inter-Governmental Committee. Pending implementation of the
recommendations of the proposed Committee a Poverty Alleviation Cell
at the Secretariat should start functioning with a view to following
up the Summit decisions on poverty alleviation.
- We encourage the development of specific projects relevant to the
individual needs of three or more Member States under the provisions
of Articles VII and X of the SAARC Charter.
- We express our determination to develop mutually beneficial links
between SAARC and other regional and international organizations,
bodies and entities and agree to establish dialogue partnership with
other regional bodies and with states outside the region, interested
in SAARC activities.
Enhancing Political Cooperation
- We envision South Asia to be a peaceful and stable region where
each nation is at peace with itself and its neighbours and where
conflicts, differences and disputes are addressed through peaceful
means and dialogue.
- We reaffirm our pledge to promote good neighbourly relations on
the basis of the principles of sovereign equality, territorial
integrity and national independence, non-use of force,
non-intervention and non-interference and peaceful settlement of
disputes and recognize the importance of informal political
consultations in promoting mutual understanding and reinforcing
confidence building process among Member States.
Security of Small States
- We are particularly mindful of the security concerns of small
states that arise, inter alia, from their particular
vulnerabilities, which should be firmly addressed by scrupulous
adherence to the UN Charter, rules of international law and strict
adherence to the universally accepted principles and norms related
to sovereign rights and territorial integrity of all states. This
should be ensured by all, both severally and collectively, through
- We endorse the recommendations made by the Council of Ministers
at its Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Sessions.
Thirteenth SAARC Summit
- We appreciate the offer of the People's Republic of Bangladesh to
host the Thirteenth SAARC Summit in January 2005.