We, the participants of People’s SAARC met in Kathmandu on 13-14 September 2017 to reaffirm our commitment to human rights, freedom of expression, justice, peace, security and democracy in the region for equity for all and to eliminate all forms of discrimination.
- We, the people of South Asia express our deep disappointment at the cancellation of the SAARC Summit that was to be held in Pakistan in November 2016.
- We urge all the SAARC governments to restore our faith in their commitment towards the SAARC by accepting the proposal of the Government of Pakistan to organise the SAARC Summit at the earliest.
- We especially urge the Government of India, as the largest democracy in the region, to lead by example and be the first country to accept Pakistan’s invitation to the SAARC summit.
- It is of utmost importance to hold the SAARC Summit at this critical juncture in South Asia to address the widespread shrinking of democratic spaces and freedoms across the region, growing militarisation, violence against human rights defenders, journalists, people demanding their rights. The vacuum is being filled by extremist forces of all kinds, sometimes facilitated by state actors,endangering peace, development and cooperation in the region.
- We are deeply disappointed that no South Asian government has been seized of the plight of the Rohingya community and the growing violent attacks on them, resulting in their exodus into neighbouring South Asian countries. The SAARC needs to take urgent action to resolve this crisis in our neighbourhood.
- There are urgent regional challenges that need to be addressed such as the ever-growing military expenditure resulting in the growing poverty and inequality; the rise of extremisms, securitisation of our societies in the name of threat to national security; land grabbing and displacements;cultural endangering; which can be better addressed at the regional level through regular functioning of the SAARC.
- We urge the SAARC needs to urgently address the worsening situation of marginalised groups and minorities;climate change, corporate control of resources; privatization of public resources; extra judicial killings, torture, disappearances, and arbitrary detention; danger of neo-colonialism given the attacks on labour and livelihoods by non-implementation and violation of labour laws; dilution of protection to labour in the name of the labour reforms; and growing trend of criminalisation of labour as a response to demands by labour for freedom of association and collective bargaining, and their protest against casualization and decimation of livelihoods.
- In the last few years, SAARC has highlighted the importance of enhancing connectivity in the region as a means of promoting development, regional integration, and peaceful co-existence. This should foremost include enhancing people-to-people contact by liberalising visa regimes and facilitating travel routes.
- Consultation with people’s movement and civil society initiated by the government of Nepal as part of the preparation of the SAARC Summit 2014 should be institutionalised within the SAARC for meaningful engagement with people in the region, in order to collectively build South Asia as a zone of peace and development for all.
We once again urge the SAARC nations to immediately start the process of organising the 19th SAARC Summit in Pakistan.
13-14 September 2017