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  • SAARC is an organization of South Asian nations, which was established on 8 December 1985 when the government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka formally adopted its charter providing for the promotion of economic and social progress, cultural development within the South Asia region and also for friendship and cooperation with other developing countries.
  • It is dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self reliance. Its seven founding members are Sri Langka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2007.
  • Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.

9 observers



European Union





South Korea

United States

potential future members
Potential future members
  • China – interest in upgrading it’s status from an observer to a full member of SAARC. Supported by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives.
  • Burma - interest in upgrading it’s status from an observer to a full member. Supported by Sri Langka.
  • Russia – interest in becoming an observer of SAARC. Supported by Inda.
  • May 2, 1980

-the first concrete proposal for establishing a framework for regional cooperation in South Asia. Made by the late president of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman.

  • After consultations, the Foreign Secretaries of the seven countries met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981. 
  • This was followed by a meeting of the Committee of the Whole in Colombo in August-September 1981, which identified five broad areas for regional cooperation.
  • The Foreign Ministers of South Asia, at their first meeting in New Delhi in August 1983, adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC) and formally launched the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA)initially in five agreed areas of cooperation namely, Agriculture; Rural Development; Telecommunications; Meteorology; Health and Population Activities. The Heads of State or Government at their First SARC Summit held in Dhaka on 7-8 December 1985 adopted the Charter formally establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme - exempt South Asian from visas within the region.
  • South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)

- It created a free trade area of 1.6 billion people in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (as of 2011, the combined population is 1.8 billion people). The seven foreign ministers of the region signed a framework agreement on SAFTA to reduce customs duties of all traded goods to zero by the year 2016.



-At the Thirteenth SAARC Summit held in November 2005 in Dhaka, India proposed to create a Centre of Excellence, in the form of a South Asian University, which can provide world class facilities and professional faculty to students and researchers drawn from every country of the region.



-Recognizing the imperative to address poverty related issues and to suggest strategies and measures to alleviate poverty in the region, the SAARC Leaders at their Sixth Summit (Colombo, 1991) established an Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA).



  • A SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) was established in New Delhi in October 2006. The SDMC provides policy advice and facilitates capacity building including strategic learning, research, training, system development, expertise promotion and exchange of information for effective disaster risk reduction and management.
  • Regional Centers such as the SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives, the SAARC Forestry Centre in Bhutan, the SAARC Disaster Management Centre in India and the SAARC Meteorological Research Centre in Bangladesh constitute a framework of SAARC Institutions which address diverse aspects of environment, climate change and natural disasters.