The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was launched in 1985. It comprises eight Member States and its Secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Its principal goals are summarized in the Charter of the SAARC. It was adopted on 8 December 1985. It includes the rise and strengthening of collective self-support among South Asian countries; the promotion of active cooperation and mutual contribution in the economic, social, cultural, technical, and scientific areas; and strengthening of collaboration among themselves in global forums on matters of common interest.
Although security is not expressly noted, counter-terrorism is a common problem for SAARC.
Compared with the frameworks of other regional institutions examined in this Module, the normative potency of its instruments is less since they are not planned to have legal force. Decisions at all levels within SAARC are assumed to be based on unanimity, and bilateral and controversial issues are excluded from the considerations of the Association.
SAARC was one of the first regional organizations to embrace a binding treaty against terrorism. During the Second SAARC Summit in Bangalore on 17 November 1986, the Heads of State or Government decided that cooperation among SAARC States was required if terrorism was to be stopped and eliminated from the region. The leaders unequivocally denounced all acts, methods, and methods of terrorism as criminal.
They lamented their effect on life and property, social and economic growth, political peace, regional and global peace, and cooperation. The following year, at their Third Summit in Kathmandu on 2-4 November 1987, the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was embraced and enacted on 2 August 1988 following its acceptance by all Members.
A Supplementary Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention was embraced at the Twelfth Summit in Islamabad on 2-6 January 2004 to revise the Convention on account of the responsibilities devolving on Member States in terms of Security Council Resolution and the International Convention for Suppression of Funding of Terrorism. Specifically, the Additional Protocol criminalizes the provision, supply, or acquisition of funds to commit terrorist actions and take further measures to prevent and suppress the financing of such actions.
The Protocol was documented into force on 1 December 2006, following ratification by all Member States. One notable element of the Protocol is that under Article 16, a State party can deny refugee status in consideration of any person for whom “there are serious grounds for considering that he or she has committed an offense outlined in Article 4 of this Supplementary Protocol”, which contains terrorism-related offenses.
Since 2007, the organization has focused on implementing these counterterrorism instruments’ provisions, such as drafting and promoting legislation within national legal systems.