KATHMANDU: The three-day long People’s SAARC Convergence-2014 concluded today with a 24-point declaration.

People’s SAARC also handed over the declaration to the government of Nepal as Nepal is hosting the 18th SAARC Summit.

Coordinator of People’s SAARC Regional Convergence Sharmila Karki, who is also president of NGO Federation of Nepal, handed over the declaration to Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey at the closing ceremony held today in Lalitpur. 

Addressing the convergence after receiving the declaration, Minister Pandey said SAARC was established for the people to work for people’s well-being. 

He also expressed commitment that People’s SAARC declaration will remain a part of the SAARC declaration. “We will try our best to implement People’s SAARC declaration,” he said. 

The minister also said commitments by previous summits could not be implemented due to internal political transition in respective SAARC member states such as Nepal, which had passed through a ten-year-long armed insurgency. 

Stating that peace was a perquisite for prosperity, Minister Pandey was of the view that SAARC should focus on fundamental areas such as quality education, food security and poverty alleviation. 

“Democracy is always for the common people. I hope SAARC will address the common people’s aspirations in the days to come,” he added. 

A total of 72 thematic issues were discussed during the programme, which witnessed participation of 2,500 activists representing more than 150 South Asian organisations during the convergence that started on Saturday. 

Participants at People’s SAARC Convergence, which met in Lalitpur from November 22 to 24, reaffirmed solemn commitments towards justice, peace, security, human rights, and democracy in the region for equality and to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

“We have come together to challenge the systematic and structural marginalisation and exclusion of people through the dominant neo-liberal economic model that is at play currently, which has been violently restructuring the region’s economic policies and cultural life of the people, undermining and devaluing both values and institutions of democracy directly or indirectly,” reads the declaration. 

The declaration has pointed out that militarisation among the SAARC member states has been increasing in the name of combating terrorism and defending national security.

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Source: www.themilayantimes.com (2014-11-24)