The people’s ‘Saarc’ (By Kuldip Nayar)

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see below Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, pills civil society organisations, troche labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, thumb New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, discount civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, stuff New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, mind New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, sildenafil there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, medicine the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, buy New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, see there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, pilule the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

Statement to the plenary meetings of Assembly towards Union of South Asian Peoples held at New Delhi on 22-23 April 2010

South Asian countries share a number of rivers with each other and with other nations beyond the region. It is evident that current water technologies adopted by governments such as big dams, pills diversions and hydro projects have not met their stated objectives but have instead created discord in situations where harmony existed between communities across borders. Further these projects are witness to serious, pilule long-term and widespread negative ecological and livelihood impacts. Climate change has brought further challenges such as glacial melting, flash floods, landslides, droughts, forest fires, intermittent rainfall, increased sea levels and risk of salinity ingress in absence of freshwater flows. Moreover, Governments have not shown any use of basic values like equity, transparency, accountability, sustainability and participation of the people in intra and inter governmental processes.

If Governments continue with their myopic and cavalier business as usual approach several flashpoints such as the Himalayan region, Indus Basin and North East region will unravel in the future with disastrous consequences.

Given the current challenges that the region faces, we cannot confine water issues to nation states; only a regional approach that brings peoples perspectives to the centre stage can help create accord over rivers.

Ways to move forward include creating civil society mechanisms to share vital information about rivers (such as the experience of people driven flood forecasting by River Basin Friends in Assam to downstream communities in Bangladesh) and water resources projects and ensuring transparency and participation in river governance. Given the vital importance and the common heritage of the Himalayan region, a regional policy should be worked out through a credible participatory process based on the needs of the people and the environment. The current race to the bottom by constructing hundreds of large hydropower projects in the region needs to be stopped. The guidelines of the World Commission on Dams Report, released by the eminent world statesman Nelson Mandela a decade back can provide a useful starting point for future water resources development in the region.

The crux of the contemporary challenege lies in creatively recovering imaginations about South Asia’s rivers as being implicated in complex relationships with regional histories, cultures and ecologies. The idea is to treat rivers as endowments, to be sustained for future generations rather than merely as short term resources to be simply harnessed and degraded in one or two generations.

South Asia’s rivers must be seen as a sources for nourishing and uniting peoples, not dividing them.

Statement to the plenary meetings of Assembly towards Union of South Asian Peoples held at New Delhi on 22-23 April 2010

South Asian countries share a number of rivers with each other and with other nations beyond the region. It is evident that current water technologies adopted by governments such as big dams, look diversions and hydro projects have not met their stated objectives but have instead created discord in situations where harmony existed between communities across borders. Further these projects are witness to serious, long-term and widespread negative ecological and livelihood impacts. Climate change has brought further challenges such as glacial melting, flash floods, landslides, droughts, forest fires, intermittent rainfall, increased sea levels and risk of salinity ingress in absence of freshwater flows. Moreover, Governments have not shown any use of basic values like equity, transparency, accountability, sustainability and participation of the people in intra and inter governmental processes.

If Governments continue with their myopic and cavalier business as usual approach several flashpoints such as the Himalayan region, Indus Basin and North East region will unravel in the future with disastrous consequences.

Given the current challenges that the region faces, we cannot confine water issues to nation states; only a regional approach that brings peoples perspectives to the centre stage can help create accord over rivers.

Ways to move forward include creating civil society mechanisms to share vital information about rivers (such as the experience of people driven flood forecasting by River Basin Friends in Assam to downstream communities in Bangladesh) and water resources projects and ensuring transparency and participation in river governance. Given the vital importance and the common heritage of the Himalayan region, a regional policy should be worked out through a credible participatory process based on the needs of the people and the environment. The current race to the bottom by constructing hundreds of large hydropower projects in the region needs to be stopped. The guidelines of the World Commission on Dams Report, released by the eminent world statesman Nelson Mandela a decade back can provide a useful starting point for future water resources development in the region.

The crux of the contemporary challenege lies in creatively recovering imaginations about South Asia’s rivers as being implicated in complex relationships with regional histories, cultures and ecologies. The idea is to treat rivers as endowments, to be sustained for future generations rather than merely as short term resources to be simply harnessed and degraded in one or two generations.

South Asia’s rivers must be seen as a sources for nourishing and uniting peoples, not dividing them.

The Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit will be over by the time these lines appear in print. But we can say that it was another attempt to scale the mountain of difficulties.

The 15th people’s Saarc meeting was held in Delhi recently to impress upon the participants of the official Saarc summit in Thimpu, medicine Bhutan, prostate that South Asian countries will continue to lag behind in development until they realise the meaning of cooperation.

Representatives of human rights bodies, trade unions, women groups and others from the Saarc countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka — demanded a union of South Asian countries in the manner of the European Union, while retaining their individual identity and sovereignty. Some even saw the prospects of one market, one visa and one currency. The representatives (60 from Pakistan alone) “reaffirmed the South Asian people’s commitment to creating a South Asia free from all discrimination, exclusion and domination”.

Indeed, these are lofty ideals that are worth pursuing. The participants were not only passionate about them, they were also committed to rising above nationalism and parochialism to make the dream of a South Asia Union come true. Their speeches had no rancour, no bitterness and no allegation.

All the eight countries are different in their own way. Yet many of them were ruled by foreigners which has cast their outlook in a civilisational mould, reflecting their commonality. Unfortunately, they a seek solution to their basic problems, not from within the region but from outside.

This dependence is the fallout of their slavery. The British who ruled practically the entire region were ruthless masters. They used people in the region as brick and mortar to build the structure of their empire. Any big or odd stone that did not fit in was crushed or thrown aside. Not many rose to challenge the system. The efforts of the few who did were nipped in the bud. Others were eliminated.

Still this region, with its people of different traditions, defeated the British. In their journey towards independence, they fell and rose but reached their destination. It is a saga of suffering and sacrifice which is recalled even today.

South Asia has learned the lesson that every enslaved country does from humiliation. But what it has not learnt yet is that people have to make a joint effort to overcome problems. Together they can fight to determine the path they should take, the tactics they should adopt and the allies they should seek. All this demands an understanding that they are together. This cannot be assumed. A method has to be devised to ascertain their opinion, yes or no.

What do the people think? What do the participants in the struggle for the betterment of conditions feel? Their efforts sow the seed of accountability. If some are to be made answerable, they should have the powers to act. Who should such people be? How can they be spotted? Centuries ago, the English established themselves as the world’s supreme nation against rival claimants. Since then the idea of popular sovereignty has become an integral part of civilised governments. Some nations like France learned from England’s example.

We in South Asia are a watchful people. We were determined to throw out the yoke of foreign rule. We also wanted to devise a system to rule ourselves. Our experience was all that the British taught us — the different acts under which carefully selected people would come to the assemblies and parliaments to rule. Very few came directly elected by the people. That was our democratic system. Our struggle in different parts of the region was to have more and more elected representatives.

We shed each other’s blood, although we were independent. The subcontinent of India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on the basis of religion. When the constitution in the newly independent countries was framed, the people’s say was naturally the most.

The biggest achievement of the constitution was to keep the rights of the people supreme and to ensure that the nations did not substitute white masters with brown sahibs.

It was not a question of government alone. It was also a question of the constitutional guarantee whereby sovereignty stayed with the people. And does democracy mean only going to polling booths and registering votes? The answer to such questions may be able to tell whether democracy will survive in South Asia.

The people’s wishes — and prayers — would have yielded some results by this time had the hostility between India and Pakistan been overcome. Neither India nor Pakistan has been able to overcome the differences which go back a long way. In a way, it is the same old bias between Hindus and Muslims. Parochialism spoils the thinking of secular India when it comes to Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan has never adopted secularism even after Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration that the state would have nothing to do with religion.

Between August 1947 and 2010, the two countries have engaged in three wars, apart from militaristic stances over the Rann of Kutch, Siachen and Kargil. Both are also nuclear powers. Still they love to hate each other. Kashmir and water are symptoms, not the disease.

The disease is the bias, suspicion and mistrust which appear in one form or the other. Even if one issue was to be solved, another would rear its ugly head because of the fundamental Hindu-Muslim divide. How do the two nations get away from this posture? The sooner we find an answer to this question, the stronger will be Saarc.

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.The Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit will be over by the time these lines appear in print. But we can say that it was another attempt to scale the mountain of difficulties.

The 15th people’s Saarc meeting was held in Delhi recently to impress upon the participants of the official Saarc summit in Thimpu, Bhutan, that South Asian countries will continue to lag behind in development until they realise the meaning of cooperation.

Representatives of human rights bodies, trade unions, women groups and others from the Saarc countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka — demanded a union of South Asian countries in the manner of the European Union, while retaining their individual identity and sovereignty. Some even saw the prospects of one market, one visa and one currency. The representatives (60 from Pakistan alone) “reaffirmed the South Asian people’s commitment to creating a South Asia free from all discrimination, exclusion and domination”.

Indeed, these are lofty ideals that are worth pursuing. The participants were not only passionate about them, they were also committed to rising above nationalism and parochialism to make the dream of a South Asia Union come true. Their speeches had no rancour, no bitterness and no allegation.

All the eight countries are different in their own way. Yet many of them were ruled by foreigners which has cast their outlook in a civilisational mould, reflecting their commonality. Unfortunately, they a seek solution to their basic problems, not from within the region but from outside.

This dependence is the fallout of their slavery. The British who ruled practically the entire region were ruthless masters. They used people in the region as brick and mortar to build the structure of their empire. Any big or odd stone that did not fit in was crushed or thrown aside. Not many rose to challenge the system. The efforts of the few who did were nipped in the bud. Others were eliminated.

Still this region, with its people of different traditions, defeated the British. In their journey towards independence, they fell and rose but reached their destination. It is a saga of suffering and sacrifice which is recalled even today.

South Asia has learned the lesson that every enslaved country does from humiliation. But what it has not learnt yet is that people have to make a joint effort to overcome problems. Together they can fight to determine the path they should take, the tactics they should adopt and the allies they should seek. All this demands an understanding that they are together. This cannot be assumed. A method has to be devised to ascertain their opinion, yes or no.

What do the people think? What do the participants in the struggle for the betterment of conditions feel? Their efforts sow the seed of accountability. If some are to be made answerable, they should have the powers to act. Who should such people be? How can they be spotted? Centuries ago, the English established themselves as the world’s supreme nation against rival claimants. Since then the idea of popular sovereignty has become an integral part of civilised governments. Some nations like France learned from England’s example.

We in South Asia are a watchful people. We were determined to throw out the yoke of foreign rule. We also wanted to devise a system to rule ourselves. Our experience was all that the British taught us — the different acts under which carefully selected people would come to the assemblies and parliaments to rule. Very few came directly elected by the people. That was our democratic system. Our struggle in different parts of the region was to have more and more elected representatives.

We shed each other’s blood, although we were independent. The subcontinent of India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on the basis of religion. When the constitution in the newly independent countries was framed, the people’s say was naturally the most.

The biggest achievement of the constitution was to keep the rights of the people supreme and to ensure that the nations did not substitute white masters with brown sahibs.

It was not a question of government alone. It was also a question of the constitutional guarantee whereby sovereignty stayed with the people. And does democracy mean only going to polling booths and registering votes? The answer to such questions may be able to tell whether democracy will survive in South Asia.

The people’s wishes — and prayers — would have yielded some results by this time had the hostility between India and Pakistan been overcome. Neither India nor Pakistan has been able to overcome the differences which go back a long way. In a way, it is the same old bias between Hindus and Muslims. Parochialism spoils the thinking of secular India when it comes to Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan has never adopted secularism even after Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration that the state would have nothing to do with religion.

Between August 1947 and 2010, the two countries have engaged in three wars, apart from militaristic stances over the Rann of Kutch, Siachen and Kargil. Both are also nuclear powers. Still they love to hate each other. Kashmir and water are symptoms, not the disease.

The disease is the bias, suspicion and mistrust which appear in one form or the other. Even if one issue was to be solved, another would rear its ugly head because of the fundamental Hindu-Muslim divide. How do the two nations get away from this posture? The sooner we find an answer to this question, the stronger will be Saarc.

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.

The Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit will be over by the time these lines appear in print. But we can say that it was another attempt to scale the mountain of difficulties.

The 15th people’s Saarc meeting was held in Delhi recently to impress upon the participants of the official Saarc summit in Thimpu, Bhutan, site that South Asian countries will continue to lag behind in development until they realise the meaning of cooperation.

Representatives of human rights bodies, trade unions, women groups and others from the Saarc countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka — demanded a union of South Asian countries in the manner of the European Union, while retaining their individual identity and sovereignty. Some even saw the prospects of one market, one visa and one currency. The representatives (60 from Pakistan alone) “reaffirmed the South Asian people’s commitment to creating a South Asia free from all discrimination, exclusion and domination”.

Indeed, these are lofty ideals that are worth pursuing. The participants were not only passionate about them, they were also committed to rising above nationalism and parochialism to make the dream of a South Asia Union come true. Their speeches had no rancour, no bitterness and no allegation.

All the eight countries are different in their own way. Yet many of them were ruled by foreigners which has cast their outlook in a civilisational mould, reflecting their commonality. Unfortunately, they a seek solution to their basic problems, not from within the region but from outside.

This dependence is the fallout of their slavery. The British who ruled practically the entire region were ruthless masters. They used people in the region as brick and mortar to build the structure of their empire. Any big or odd stone that did not fit in was crushed or thrown aside. Not many rose to challenge the system. The efforts of the few who did were nipped in the bud. Others were eliminated.

Still this region, with its people of different traditions, defeated the British. In their journey towards independence, they fell and rose but reached their destination. It is a saga of suffering and sacrifice which is recalled even today.

South Asia has learned the lesson that every enslaved country does from humiliation. But what it has not learnt yet is that people have to make a joint effort to overcome problems. Together they can fight to determine the path they should take, the tactics they should adopt and the allies they should seek. All this demands an understanding that they are together. This cannot be assumed. A method has to be devised to ascertain their opinion, yes or no.

What do the people think? What do the participants in the struggle for the betterment of conditions feel? Their efforts sow the seed of accountability. If some are to be made answerable, they should have the powers to act. Who should such people be? How can they be spotted? Centuries ago, the English established themselves as the world’s supreme nation against rival claimants. Since then the idea of popular sovereignty has become an integral part of civilised governments. Some nations like France learned from England’s example.

We in South Asia are a watchful people. We were determined to throw out the yoke of foreign rule. We also wanted to devise a system to rule ourselves. Our experience was all that the British taught us — the different acts under which carefully selected people would come to the assemblies and parliaments to rule. Very few came directly elected by the people. That was our democratic system. Our struggle in different parts of the region was to have more and more elected representatives.

We shed each other’s blood, although we were independent. The subcontinent of India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on the basis of religion. When the constitution in the newly independent countries was framed, the people’s say was naturally the most.

The biggest achievement of the constitution was to keep the rights of the people supreme and to ensure that the nations did not substitute white masters with brown sahibs.

It was not a question of government alone. It was also a question of the constitutional guarantee whereby sovereignty stayed with the people. And does democracy mean only going to polling booths and registering votes? The answer to such questions may be able to tell whether democracy will survive in South Asia.

The people’s wishes — and prayers — would have yielded some results by this time had the hostility between India and Pakistan been overcome. Neither India nor Pakistan has been able to overcome the differences which go back a long way. In a way, it is the same old bias between Hindus and Muslims. Parochialism spoils the thinking of secular India when it comes to Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan has never adopted secularism even after Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration that the state would have nothing to do with religion.

Between August 1947 and 2010, the two countries have engaged in three wars, apart from militaristic stances over the Rann of Kutch, Siachen and Kargil. Both are also nuclear powers. Still they love to hate each other. Kashmir and water are symptoms, not the disease.

The disease is the bias, suspicion and mistrust which appear in one form or the other. Even if one issue was to be solved, another would rear its ugly head because of the fundamental Hindu-Muslim divide. How do the two nations get away from this posture? The sooner we find an answer to this question, the stronger will be Saarc.

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.The Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit will be over by the time these lines appear in print. But we can say that it was another attempt to scale the mountain of difficulties.

The 15th people’s Saarc meeting was held in Delhi recently to impress upon the participants of the official Saarc summit in Thimpu, Bhutan, that South Asian countries will continue to lag behind in development until they realise the meaning of cooperation.

Representatives of human rights bodies, trade unions, women groups and others from the Saarc countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka — demanded a union of South Asian countries in the manner of the European Union, while retaining their individual identity and sovereignty. Some even saw the prospects of one market, one visa and one currency. The representatives (60 from Pakistan alone) “reaffirmed the South Asian people’s commitment to creating a South Asia free from all discrimination, exclusion and domination”.

Indeed, these are lofty ideals that are worth pursuing. The participants were not only passionate about them, they were also committed to rising above nationalism and parochialism to make the dream of a South Asia Union come true. Their speeches had no rancour, no bitterness and no allegation.

All the eight countries are different in their own way. Yet many of them were ruled by foreigners which has cast their outlook in a civilisational mould, reflecting their commonality. Unfortunately, they a seek solution to their basic problems, not from within the region but from outside.

This dependence is the fallout of their slavery. The British who ruled practically the entire region were ruthless masters. They used people in the region as brick and mortar to build the structure of their empire. Any big or odd stone that did not fit in was crushed or thrown aside. Not many rose to challenge the system. The efforts of the few who did were nipped in the bud. Others were eliminated.

Still this region, with its people of different traditions, defeated the British. In their journey towards independence, they fell and rose but reached their destination. It is a saga of suffering and sacrifice which is recalled even today.

South Asia has learned the lesson that every enslaved country does from humiliation. But what it has not learnt yet is that people have to make a joint effort to overcome problems. Together they can fight to determine the path they should take, the tactics they should adopt and the allies they should seek. All this demands an understanding that they are together. This cannot be assumed. A method has to be devised to ascertain their opinion, yes or no.

What do the people think? What do the participants in the struggle for the betterment of conditions feel? Their efforts sow the seed of accountability. If some are to be made answerable, they should have the powers to act. Who should such people be? How can they be spotted? Centuries ago, the English established themselves as the world’s supreme nation against rival claimants. Since then the idea of popular sovereignty has become an integral part of civilised governments. Some nations like France learned from England’s example.

We in South Asia are a watchful people. We were determined to throw out the yoke of foreign rule. We also wanted to devise a system to rule ourselves. Our experience was all that the British taught us — the different acts under which carefully selected people would come to the assemblies and parliaments to rule. Very few came directly elected by the people. That was our democratic system. Our struggle in different parts of the region was to have more and more elected representatives.

We shed each other’s blood, although we were independent. The subcontinent of India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on the basis of religion. When the constitution in the newly independent countries was framed, the people’s say was naturally the most.

The biggest achievement of the constitution was to keep the rights of the people supreme and to ensure that the nations did not substitute white masters with brown sahibs.

It was not a question of government alone. It was also a question of the constitutional guarantee whereby sovereignty stayed with the people. And does democracy mean only going to polling booths and registering votes? The answer to such questions may be able to tell whether democracy will survive in South Asia.

The people’s wishes — and prayers — would have yielded some results by this time had the hostility between India and Pakistan been overcome. Neither India nor Pakistan has been able to overcome the differences which go back a long way. In a way, it is the same old bias between Hindus and Muslims. Parochialism spoils the thinking of secular India when it comes to Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan has never adopted secularism even after Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration that the state would have nothing to do with religion.

Between August 1947 and 2010, the two countries have engaged in three wars, apart from militaristic stances over the Rann of Kutch, Siachen and Kargil. Both are also nuclear powers. Still they love to hate each other. Kashmir and water are symptoms, not the disease.

The disease is the bias, suspicion and mistrust which appear in one form or the other. Even if one issue was to be solved, another would rear its ugly head because of the fundamental Hindu-Muslim divide. How do the two nations get away from this posture? The sooner we find an answer to this question, the stronger will be Saarc.

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.

People’s SAARC Conference held in New Delhi on 21-23 April 2010

We the members of social movements, prostate civil society organizations, labour unions, peasant movements, other working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism, and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national and societal harmony, human rights and national unity. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power.

All our countries are suffer and tribals have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the economic potential of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.

Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.

In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.

Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.

A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts to move towards that goal.

We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy, masculinity, religious extremism and caste based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive health rights in the SAARC countries.

There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and connected sectors.

The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or to play countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and allied powers. We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.

Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan, India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources, there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent.

There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.

Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.

Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately stopped.

The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safeguards for the basic rights of the local people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.

We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns and demands of the people of the region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and empower each other to realize this vision.a

We the members of social movements, civil society organizations, discount labour unions, peasant movements, other
working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd  April,
2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This
year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian
Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and
domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism,
and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national
and societal harmony, human rights and national unity.  It calls for equal respect among all  countries
irrespective of size, and power. 
All our countries are suffer and tribals  have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that
we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the
economic potential  of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the
rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards
including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in
territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk
incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released
and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock
and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all
life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of
the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the
North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken
towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more
sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is
imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in
the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and
Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of
movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well
below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become
exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout
the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to
explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also
gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing
restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not
only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts
to move towards that goal. 
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups
and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy,
masculinity, religious extremism and caste  based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and
political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive
health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small
and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and
free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a
precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative
to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and
connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or
to play  countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down
expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would
save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and
allied powers.  We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above
all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others
territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan,
India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources,

there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method
of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a
State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent. 
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of
dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise
available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents
which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be
resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become
unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt
with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to
farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent
steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other
subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation
of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately
stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work
as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safegaurds for the basic rights of the local
people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly
the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should
be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is
imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these  concerns and demands of the people of the
region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of
South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and
empower each other to realize this vision.

We the members of social movements, look civil society organizations, check labour unions, peasant movements, other working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism, and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national and societal harmony, human rights and national unity. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power.
All our countries are suffer and tribals have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the economic potential of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.
People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts to move towards that goal.
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy, masculinity, religious extremism and caste based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or to play countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and allied powers. We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan, India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources, there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent.
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safeguards for the basic rights of the local people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns and demands of the people of the region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and empower each other to realize this vision.a

We the members of social movements, discount civil society organizations, pills labour unions, working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd  April,
2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This
year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian
Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and
domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism,
and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national
and societal harmony, human rights and national unity.  It calls for equal respect among all  countries
irrespective of size, and power. 
All our countries are suffer and tribals  have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that
we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the
economic potential  of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the
rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards
including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in
territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk
incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released
and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock
and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all
life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of
the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the
North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken
towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more
sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is
imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in
the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and
Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of
movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well
below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become
exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout
the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to
explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also
gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing
restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not
only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts
to move towards that goal. 
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups
and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy,
masculinity, religious extremism and caste  based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and
political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive
health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small
and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and
free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a
precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative
to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and
connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or
to play  countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down
expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would
save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and
allied powers.  We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above
all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others
territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan,
India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources,

there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method
of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a
State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent. 
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of
dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise
available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents
which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be
resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become
unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt
with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to
farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent
steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other
subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation
of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately
stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work
as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safegaurds for the basic rights of the local
people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly
the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should
be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is
imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these  concerns and demands of the people of the
region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of
South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and
empower each other to realize this vision.

We the members of social movements, civil society organizations, ask labour unions, peasant movements, other working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd  April,
2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This
year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian
Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and
domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism,
and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national
and societal harmony, human rights and national unity.  It calls for equal respect among all  countries
irrespective of size, and power. 
All our countries are suffer and tribals  have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that
we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the
economic potential  of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the
rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards
including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in
territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk
incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released
and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock
and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all
life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of
the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the
North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken
towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more
sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is
imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in
the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and
Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of
movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well
below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become
exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout
the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to
explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also
gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing
restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not
only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts
to move towards that goal. 
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups
and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy,
masculinity, religious extremism and caste  based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and
political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive
health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small
and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and
free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a
precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative
to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and
connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or
to play  countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down
expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would
save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and
allied powers.  We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above
all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others
territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan,
India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources,

there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method
of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a
State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent. 
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of
dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise
available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents
which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be
resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become
unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt
with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to
farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent
steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other
subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation
of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately
stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work
as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safegaurds for the basic rights of the local
people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly
the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should
be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is
imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these  concerns and demands of the people of the
region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of
South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and
empower each other to realize this vision.

We the members of social movements, treat civil society organizations, seek labour unions, peasant movements, other
working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd  April,
2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This
year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian
Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and
domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism,
and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national
and societal harmony, human rights and national unity.  It calls for equal respect among all  countries
irrespective of size, and power. 
All our countries are suffer and tribals  have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that
we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the
economic potential  of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the
rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards
including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in
territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk
incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released
and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock
and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all
life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of
the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the
North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken
towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more
sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is
imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in
the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and
Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of
movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well
below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become
exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout
the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to
explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also
gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing
restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not
only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts
to move towards that goal. 
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups
and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy,
masculinity, religious extremism and caste  based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and
political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive
health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small
and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and
free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a
precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative
to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and
connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or
to play  countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down
expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would
save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and
allied powers.  We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above
all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others
territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan,
India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources,

there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method
of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a
State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent. 
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of
dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise
available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents
which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be
resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become
unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt
with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to
farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent
steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other
subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation
of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately
stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work
as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safegaurds for the basic rights of the local
people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly
the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should
be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is
imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these  concerns and demands of the people of the
region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of
South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and
empower each other to realize this vision.

We the members of social movements, stuff civil society organizations, labour unions, peasant movements, other working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism, and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national and societal harmony, human rights and national unity. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power.
All our countries are suffer and tribals have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the economic potential of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.
People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.
Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts to move towards that goal.
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy, masculinity, religious extremism and caste based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and connected sectors.
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or to play countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and allied powers. We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan, India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources, there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent.
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.
Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safeguards for the basic rights of the local people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns and demands of the people of the region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and empower each other to realize this vision.a

Press Release

26 April 2010, sovaldi New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

People’s SAARC Declaration (April 2010, New Delhi)

We the members of social movements, prostate civil society organizations,labour unions, peasant movements, other working people’s organizations and women’s groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision for a People’s Union of South Asia. This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also calls for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism, and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national and societal harmony, human rights and national unity. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power.

All our countries are suffer and tribals have suffered more including violence against women. It is time that we develop new paradigms of peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly reflect the economic potential of our countries and meet the need of our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the rights of all workers, especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with international standards including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk incarcerated for wandering into neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisherfolk.

Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat and a threat to the very survival of all life on the planet. Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India which were part of the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived at no urgent steps have been taken towards reversing ecological degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating more sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and peasants conditions and mining among others. It is imperative for a Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of India and island states in the Indian Ocean are not submerged because of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.

In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem. Generally international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is not implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant suppression of movements that challenge the state, only some of which are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.

People’s movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other natural resources are often brutally repressed.

Peoples land is acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and their rehabilitation is well below international standards. This of course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the people.

A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level if people to people contact throughout the region was facilitated. This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries and regions to explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful, sustainable and equitable path of development which is also gender just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our governments are increasing restrictions on people to people dialogue and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not only a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is also a severe restriction on our efforts to move towards that goal.

We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity of all people including excluded groups and minorities; including ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence of patriarchy, masculinity, religious extremism and caste based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and political equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny women sexual and reproductive health rights in the SAARC countries.

There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that meet the needs and aspirations of small and medium producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the WTO and free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out fair trade relations within South Asia as a precondition for fair trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a democratic alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and connected sectors.

The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed to overthrow pro-people regimes or to play countries off against another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian nuclear weapons free zone. This would save billions of dollars for the social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the US and allied powers. We urge that there be a no war pact between all SAARC countries.

Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all unequal treaties should be annulled. Above all, states must respect each other’s sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage operations on each others territories is the most glaring violation of this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan, India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve alienation or deprivation of natural resources, there must be dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means should not be the main method of countering them. Fundamentalist movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent.

There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment and adequate food as basic rights.
More investment in the social sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The billions of dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise available for the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons rather than patents which exploit our market and people. New attempts in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be resisted so that vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria etc. do not become unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.

Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains. Remunerative prices must be given to farmers for their produce. The poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be banned.

Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent steps should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the forest produce, and food and other subsidies in times of drought. Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic exploitation of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by corporate and contractors should be immediately stopped.

The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safeguards for the basic rights of the local people must be instituted. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected. Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through political negotiations is imperative. This will include negotiations with the people of disputed territories.

We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns and demands of the people of the region. Governments must be accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism in the region. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire, struggle and empower each other to realize this vision.a

Statement on Bhutanese Refugees' Right to Repatriation

25 March 2010, clinic Windhoek
Climate change is one of the biggest catastrophes facing humankind as result of unsustainable economic growth and consumption and production patterns, largely from the GLOBAL NORTH. The dominant economic growth paradigm is turning the earth into a hostile environment with increasing droughts, floods, water-scarcity and many more physical disasters affecting every sector of society.
Despite this challenge our governments have supported the undemocratic and opaque Copenhagen Accord through which the Global North seeks to renege on its responsibility to reduce its unsustainable consumption and provide the necessary finance and technology to address climate change and a just transition to low carbon economies.
We acknowledge that climate change is a symptom of the exploitative, destructive, polluting, profit – driven consumption and production. As such the current orientation to address climate change through market – driven and trade- led approaches to promote competiveness, “green” tariffs, carbon markets and finance encouraging green capitalism is highly problematic.
We demand the polluter pays principle be implemented and reject the right to pollute through carbon trading and markets.
We reject the technology quick fix solutions to address the climate crisis, particularly the imposed false solutions to address the energy and food crises such as GMOs, agro-fuels, synthetic fertilisers, agrochemicals. These deepen will deepen the crises and perpetuate food aid dependency.
We demand sufficient, mandatory, predictable climate financing to developing countries. Climate funds are compensation and not aid. These funds should be over and above the longstanding ODA commitments (0.7% of GNP). In addition, funding should be in the form of grants which is consistent with the idea of reparations
We demand democratic governance and decision making of financing mechanisms under the UN process and the Conference of Parties (COP) and not the World Bank.
We urge governments and civil society to recognize the gendered dimensions of Climate Change, and facilitate meaningful dialogue between women who are directly affected with policy makers at both local and national levels as well as regional and global level.
We call for the removal intellectual property rights and trade restrictions that place severe constraints on people’s access to climate friendly technologies and thus their ability to promote low carbon alternatives.
Finally we call for civil society in Southern Africa to collaborate with other people based movements on Climate Change globally, and immediately activate existing networks and resources within our ranks, need to build each other’s capacities to engage meaningfully on pro-people solutions to the crisis of climate change.

People’s SAARC 2010

Seminar on the Right to Repartition of Bhutanese Refugees: Sharing testimonies by Bhutanese refugees with south Asian representatives

25-26 April 2010, help Birtamod, sale Jhapa, Nepal

Organized by: South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and the Bhutanese  Refugees Repatriation Committee

We, more than 50 Bhutanese refugees representing all seven refugee camps located in Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal and the members of SAAPE from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and peasant organisations, academia, women associations and social movements from different countries of South Asia have gathered here in Birtamod, Jhapa on April 25, 2010 on the occasion of People’s SAARC 2010 to defend the rights of Bhutanese refugees. As an extension of People’s SAARC 2010 Delhi, India, this one day seminar has come up with the following realizations and demands: During our visit to the camps we found the citizens of Bhutan living under total deprivation and in de humanized conditions. This is a situation which must not be allowed to continue and demands immediate all round intervention to ensure that all basic entitlements are made available without any further delay or prevarication,

1. Thousands of Bhutanese citizens have been evicted from their homeland by way of political victimization and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent and forced to live as political refugees on the borders of India and Bhutan and the refugee camps of Nepal;

2. This illegality and immorality have been perpetuated for more than 18 years against the norms and standards of international law and violation of human rights;

3. It is high time for south Asian countries to bring pressure on the government of Bhutan to allow the rights of the refugees to return to their homelands and to facilitate their repatriation with full dignity, honour and the right to equality and full participation as citizens of Bhutan;

4. We, on behalf of people of the South Asian nations, demand that this issue be taken up on the agenda of official SAARC and an urgent solution found to this aggravated humanitarian emergency prevailing along the borders of south asia, even as the heads of the governments engage in empty tokenism in the capital of Bhutan, thus bestowing legitimacy to an anti-people and anti-democratic government;

5. We also demand an immediate end to the suppression of the democratic rights of these refugees and the gross violation of their civil and political rights;

6. We demand for the formation of South Asia Refugee Commission within the framework of SAARC to engage and take care of the refugee problems in the region;

7. We take note of the inadequacy of third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees;

8. We urge the South Asian governments, particularly India, Bhutan and Nepal to address the Bhutanese refugee’s demands to return to their homeland. We request international community to facilitate the process of repatriation to their homelands;

9. We urge that all South Asian nations follow the lead of Afghanistan and ratify the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and enact suitable legal framework to address the problems of the refugees; and

10. Finally we commit ourselves to continue activities to make South Asia a refugee free region. We believe in solidarity, fraternity and mutual respect for all.


‘Rivers, people and climate change in South Asia’

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see below Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, pills civil society organisations, troche labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, thumb New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, discount civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, stuff New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, mind New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, sildenafil there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, medicine the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, buy New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, see there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, pilule the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

Statement to the plenary meetings of Assembly towards Union of South Asian Peoples held at New Delhi on 22-23 April 2010

South Asian countries share a number of rivers with each other and with other nations beyond the region. It is evident that current water technologies adopted by governments such as big dams, pills diversions and hydro projects have not met their stated objectives but have instead created discord in situations where harmony existed between communities across borders. Further these projects are witness to serious, pilule long-term and widespread negative ecological and livelihood impacts. Climate change has brought further challenges such as glacial melting, flash floods, landslides, droughts, forest fires, intermittent rainfall, increased sea levels and risk of salinity ingress in absence of freshwater flows. Moreover, Governments have not shown any use of basic values like equity, transparency, accountability, sustainability and participation of the people in intra and inter governmental processes.

If Governments continue with their myopic and cavalier business as usual approach several flashpoints such as the Himalayan region, Indus Basin and North East region will unravel in the future with disastrous consequences.

Given the current challenges that the region faces, we cannot confine water issues to nation states; only a regional approach that brings peoples perspectives to the centre stage can help create accord over rivers.

Ways to move forward include creating civil society mechanisms to share vital information about rivers (such as the experience of people driven flood forecasting by River Basin Friends in Assam to downstream communities in Bangladesh) and water resources projects and ensuring transparency and participation in river governance. Given the vital importance and the common heritage of the Himalayan region, a regional policy should be worked out through a credible participatory process based on the needs of the people and the environment. The current race to the bottom by constructing hundreds of large hydropower projects in the region needs to be stopped. The guidelines of the World Commission on Dams Report, released by the eminent world statesman Nelson Mandela a decade back can provide a useful starting point for future water resources development in the region.

The crux of the contemporary challenege lies in creatively recovering imaginations about South Asia’s rivers as being implicated in complex relationships with regional histories, cultures and ecologies. The idea is to treat rivers as endowments, to be sustained for future generations rather than merely as short term resources to be simply harnessed and degraded in one or two generations.

South Asia’s rivers must be seen as a sources for nourishing and uniting peoples, not dividing them.

Statement Adopted by Trade Unions from South Asia, 21 April 2010

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see below Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, pills civil society organisations, troche labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

Press Release

26 April 2010, thumb New Delhi

Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, discount civil society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women’s groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a ’Peoples SAARC’ to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples’. Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Among the prominent individual participants of the People’s SAARC Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha, Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin (Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai (Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party, Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative (India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers (India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah, Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights, Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).

Background:

This year’s Peoples’ SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than a decade and a half. The first People’s SAARC meeting had taken place in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People’s SAARC had taken place in Colombo in 2008.

The latest People’s SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people’ perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements across South Asia. (see Text of The Delhi Declaration)

One important event of the conference was the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and the need to actively build regional cooperation.

The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of specific demands:

  • The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework. The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
  • The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian government.
  • SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression of terrorism.
  • SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians. SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
  • All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually and funds be diverted towards social spending.
  • All governments without further delay should establish a universal and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social charter.
  • All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement, the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
  • We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that protects the rights of refugees.

At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the People’s SAARC met and took the following decisions.

1. A secretariat for the People’s SAARC process will be established at Kathmandu

2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South Asians regional campaigns

3. A People’s SAARC processes will be established in each country to mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people’s.

4. A South Asians People’s Regional Assembly will be constituted within the next three months

Released to the media by:

Babulal Sharma
Kamla Bhasin

CoConveners
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People’s SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources | ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR | SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human Rights

For futher information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai@gmail.com, (91-11) 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri@focusweb.org, (91-11) 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia@gmail.com, (91-11) 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat@ntui.org.in, (91-11) 26 48 69 31/26 21 45 38

A South Asia labour movement interaction workshop was organised on as part of broader People’s SAARC summit held in New Delhi from the 21-23 April 2010. Posted below is the full text of the statement adopted at the meeting of trade unions on the 21st April 2010


Constitution Club, stuff New Delhi

21 April 2010

Since the formation of the SAARC in 1985, there has been very little progress in promoting regional cooperation among nations and peoples in South Asia. There exists legal and illegal trade of goods and mobility of labour between the South Asian countries. With the negotiations on South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) along with the other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including FTAs between the nations in the region, the legal capital mobility within South Asia has not only magnified manifold but the scope for it is ever-widening with investments from large Multi National Corporations. This has further intensified the attack on labour in these nations. In this context, there is a felt need among the working people in the region for a collective response to this attack from imperialist globalisation.

We recall that many varied attempts that have been initiated in the region to build an alliance among trade unions in the region. Affiliates of both the WFTU and the ICFTU in the region have on several occasions in the past have attempted to broaden the alliance in the region. There have been other attempts initiated by a large number of trade unions in the region since 1996.

We draw upon the South Asian Consultation on Labour Rights, in the context of Multilateral Trade Agreements was held in Kathmandu in May 1996 that affirmed the need for a South Asia Labour Rights Charter. It also affirmed the principle of Universal Labour Rights as an expression of human rights of labour in the work place, and resolved to work towards the promulgation of a UN Labour Rights Convention. The meeting of the trade unions of South Asia took place in Karachi in September 2003 at the South Asia Labour Conference for Peace and Regional Co-operation. It drew up the Karachi Declaration that called for a strengthening of the people’s urge for peace and solidarity in the region in general and the working classes of the region in particular. With the worsening of the border disputes and the growing spectre of terror in the region, this effort has also been effectively thwarted. However, there have been efforts, albeit small, to take this process forward. The Kathmandu meeting in March 2007 and the meeting in Colombo in July 2008 were small but significant steps towards this. These attempts reflect a progress towards broad-based coalitions, reducing previous national and regional divisions in the labour movement. It is now time for a convergence of these diverse efforts.

Regional efforts at cooperation and building solidarity across borders can only be sustained through a cohesive pressure from the labour movement in the region. This requires coordination within the labour movement to promote fraternity and peace based on a systematic coordination of ideas, people and of institutional exchanges in order to build a process for dialogue and consultation of all South Asian trade unions within an agreed democratic framework. This effort should specifically promote consultation, cooperation and solidarity of sectoral unions and in the multinational corporations and their supply chains.

This coordination and consolidation can concretely begin with the framework for:

  • Standardisation and Promotion of labour rights and regional institution for protection
  • Promotion of peace and development of a People’s foreign policy
  • Promotion of free movement of people in the region within a legal framework
  • Expansion of the scope of SAARC by inclusion of labour in its areas of cooperation

To widen this process we propose an expanding preparatory committee (through a list serve) of all unions who join this process. Specific Thematic, sectoral and multinational working groups can be developed to actualise the coordination on a regional basis.

To deepen the engagement we call for a wider consultative meeting of all unions of South Asia in 2010 to evolve the future of this process and beyond it for an alliance with peoples’ movement in South Asia.

Signed by

India
Rajiv Dhimri, AICCTU
Satya Narayan Thakur, AITUC
Ashim Roy, NTUI

Nepal Binda Pandey GEFONT

Pakistan
Dr. Malik Baloch, National Party
Adam Malik Pakistan Peace Coalition
Chaudhary Mansoor Ahmed, PLB
Bushra Khaliq, Women Workers Helpline – Pakistan
Yusuf Baloch, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
Karamat Ali, PILER

Sri Lanka
S Murugaiaya, All Ceylon United Workers Congress (PSSF)
M Vijandran, Trade Union Confederation/ All Ceylon United Fisherpeople Trade Union
Priyadarshini Aryaratna, Janavakesha
S R Edwards, Janavakesha

SAPSN Statement on the Climate Crisis

25 March 2010, adiposity Windhoek
Climate change is one of the biggest catastrophes facing humankind as result of unsustainable economic growth and consumption and production patterns, largely from the GLOBAL NORTH. The dominant economic growth paradigm is turning the earth into a hostile environment with increasing droughts, floods, water-scarcity and many more physical disasters affecting every sector of society.
Despite this challenge our governments have supported the undemocratic and opaque Copenhagen Accord through which the Global North seeks to renege on its responsibility to reduce its unsustainable consumption and provide the necessary finance and technology to address climate change and a just transition to low carbon economies.
We acknowledge that climate change is a symptom of the exploitative, destructive, polluting, profit – driven consumption and production. As such the current orientation to address climate change through market – driven and trade- led approaches to promote competiveness, “green” tariffs, carbon markets and finance encouraging green capitalism is highly problematic.
We demand the polluter pays principle be implemented and reject the right to pollute through carbon trading and markets.
We reject the technology quick fix solutions to address the climate crisis, particularly the imposed false solutions to address the energy and food crises such as GMOs, agro-fuels, synthetic fertilisers, agrochemicals. These deepen will deepen the crises and perpetuate food aid dependency.
We demand sufficient, mandatory, predictable climate financing to developing countries. Climate funds are compensation and not aid. These funds should be over and above the longstanding ODA commitments (0.7% of GNP). In addition, funding should be in the form of grants which is consistent with the idea of reparations
We demand democratic governance and decision making of financing mechanisms under the UN process and the Conference of Parties (COP) and not the World Bank.
We urge governments and civil society to recognize the gendered dimensions of Climate Change, and facilitate meaningful dialogue between women who are directly affected with policy makers at both local and national levels as well as regional and global level.
We call for the removal intellectual property rights and trade restrictions that place severe constraints on people’s access to climate friendly technologies and thus their ability to promote low carbon alternatives.
Finally we call for civil society in Southern Africa to collaborate with other people based movements on Climate Change globally, and immediately activate existing networks and resources within our ranks, need to build each other’s capacities to engage meaningfully on pro-people solutions to the crisis of climate change.

Video Entrevista con Gonzalo Berrón sobre sobre integración regional en America Latina

We, more than 1,200 delegates representing various civil society organizations and movements of workers from rural and urban sectors as well as the migrant sector, illness peasants and farmers, women, children, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, urban poor, Indigenous Peoples, victims ofhuman rights violations, domestic workers, lesbian gay transgender/transsexual intersex and queer
(LGBTIQ) people, human rights defenders and other groups, gathered together in Phnom Penh for
the 2012 ASEAN Civil Society Conference / Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) on 29-31 March 2012,
to discuss issues under the theme “Transforming ASEAN into a People Centered Community”.

We, more than 1,200 delegates representing various civil society organizations and movements of workers from rural and urban sectors as well as the migrant sector, peasants and farmers, women, children, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, urban poor, Indigenous Peoples, victims of human rights violations, domestic workers, lesbian gay transgender/transsexual intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people, human rights defenders and other groups, gathered together in Phnom Penh for the 2012 ASEAN Civil Society Conference / Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) on 29-31 March 2012, to discuss issues under the theme “Transforming ASEAN into a People Centered Community”.


Read the full statement here.

Haga click aqui para ver la entrevista realizada por el Centro de Investigaciones para el desarrollo (CID) con Gonzalo Berrón, buy investigador del FES, buy y al profesor Carlos Martínez, no rx investigador en economía de la UN, para hablar sobre integración regional en America Latina.

 

Reclaim Control over EPA Talks

By Servaas van den Bosch

WINDHOEK, sovaldi sale Mar 29, click 2010 (IPS) – Southern African governments must regain control over the negotiations on the trade deals known as economic partnership agreements (EPAs). Issues earmarked as deal-breakers should be resolved before talks to a full EPA are continued. These include limiting the EPA to a goods-only agreement and the EU dropping its demand for reciprocity.

These demands emanate from a public meeting of the Southern Africa People?s Solidarity Network (SASPN) and the Southern African Christian Intiative (SACHI) held on Mar 24 and 25 in the Namibian capital.

SACHI is a non-denominational Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that strives towards “empowering leaders to become vibrant and transparent citizens, buy promotes Christian moral values and its obligations, and actively engages in the democratic process in Southern African region”.

SASPN was started in 1999 by civil society groups that believe the struggle for economic, environmental, social and political justice, including for people?s participation in decision-making, continues after the fall of apartheid. In this vein activists from nine African countries, representing three EPA negotiating blocs, adopted a statement against the EPAs at the meeting.

“If we open up the services sectors like the EU wants, European companies with a huge competitive advantage have unlimited access to our water, electricity or telecommunications sectors while we have no regulations in place,” said Rangarirai Machemedze, deputy director of the Harare-based Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), a member of SAPSN.

African countries should diversify their trade options; and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union should advance much more decisively with regional economic integration, declared Dot Keet, trade activist and research associate at the Alternative Information and Development Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, another SAPSN member.

Part of this, according to Machemedze, is the development of domestic regulatory frameworks before embarking on trade deals that require opening of markets.

“The EPAs in their current form will not in any way help develop the economies of Africa,” Machemedze argued.

“While the developed world sees trade as an end in itself, for us trade is a means to an end. This end is development. Currently maybe five African countries are able to produce goods, add value to products and sell these internationally. Other countries are unable to do this, because of poor infrastructure, limited production capacity and a lack of investment in research and development.

“So how can Africa effectively compete with the EU on a basis of supposed equality?” Machemedze asked.

Dakarayi Matanga, SAPSN secretary general, added that, “reciprocity in trade in this case actually means ?the winner takes all?. The countries that dominated global trade in the past will continue to do so. But Africa deserves the opportunity to protect its markets. No country has been able to develop its economy without protection.”

The principle of reciprocity in the EPA ? insisted on by the EU – is laughable, according to Keet. “One of the biggest myths in the EPA negotiations is that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) demands reciprocity in the EPA. The Europeans give non-reciprocal access to their markets all the time, most recently to the Balkan states, without this leading to a challenge at the WTO.

Brussels? insistence on reciprocity and on the controversial most favoured nation-clause that automatically extends preferential trade agreements with third countries to the EU are, in her opinion, driven by a desperate need of the Europeans to access new markets.

“It is a complete inversion of reality that the EPAs would be in our interests. The Euro-global strategy set out by Brussels is directly aimed at ensuring market access for European producers who are under immense pressure from emerging countries (such as China, India and Brazil).

“This is why it is important for Europe to re-assert its dominance over Africa. The European Commission deliberately exploits existing tensions and encourages particular interests, such as those of the cut flower industry in Kenya.”

EPA critics in SAPSN point out that the interests of Kenyan flower producers gave the decisive push for the East African Community (EAC) to sign the controversial trade agreement. “But obviously there are many more interests in that region that should have been taken into account,” Keet pointed out.

“How does it help your food security if you stop growing crops and start growing flowers for export?” added Matanga.

The EU is playing a game of stick and carrot, according to the civil society groups? analysis. “They refuse to discuss the wider economic context, such as Europe?s own agricultural subsidies that are very hard to compete with,” Matanga commented.

Poor countries are being blocked through WTO rules to pay subsidies to their farmers and, even if they were allowed, they would not be able to spend 365 billion dollars on such subsidies, as rich countries did in 2007.

Matanga further argued that the EU uses development aid as a “sweetener” to open up markets.

Said Keet, “we understand the desperation of countries like Mozambique that are almost fully dependent on aid. Zimbabwe just signed the EPA, basically giving away its infant industry protection simply as a public relations exercise with the EU. Still, there are countries like Namibia, Malawi and Zambia that have taken a stance and said they will not sign unless some conditions are met.”

Meanwhile the EPAs hinder the project of regional economic integration in SADC by dividing the region into separate EPA negotiating blocs. “Zambia and Zimbabwe have been swayed to negotiate under the East and Southern African (ESA) EPA configuration,” explained Machemedze. “This is an obscure grouping that doesn?t even exist in terms of current regional structures.”

Matanga added: “We are being balkanised. Through the EPAs the EU promotes a neoliberal agenda that divides us. Instead of talking about real fair trade, the fast-track opening of markets threatens the livelihoods of small producers and farmers in Southern Africa.” (END)

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50820

Regional Groups Call for Asian Solidarity

Documento borrador para discusión. El fracaso de Bretton Woods y los tres pilares de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional.
Por: Equipo Técnico Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional –Banco del Sur. Ecuador
Septiembre 22 de 2009

1. El Fondo Monetario Internacional y el Banco Mundial: su fracaso histórico

De la cita de Bretton Woods en las postrimeras de la Segunda Guerra Mundial surgen las instituciones llamadas a configurar los pilares del que sería el Nuevo Orden Económico Mundial sobre la base de un claro direccionamiento hacia los intereses particulares de la nación que se erguía con la hegemonía en Occidente. Es así que nace el Fondo Monetario Internacional en el pilar monetario, order el Banco Mundial en el pilar del desarrollo y la fallida Organización Internacional del Comercio, que sería sustituida por el proceso GATT – OMC, en el pilar comercial.

El FMI se configuró en el objetivo específico de proveer créditos de corto plazo en divisas a los países en situaciones de problemas en sus balanzas de pagos a efectos de que puedan preservar sus niveles de reservas internacionales, y con ello la estabilidad cambiaria de sus monedas.

Cabe recordar que esta función del FMI se inscribía en el esquema monetario impuesto por el patrón oro-dólar con los Estados Unidos como emisor primario del dinero del mundo, y los demás países sujetos a un manejo monetario respaldado en sus tenencias en dólares.

Este esquema original no pudo sostenerse por la desenfrenada emisión estadounidense que le llevó a este país a un auge económico inusitado en la década de los cincuenta, a expensas de exportar su inflación al mundo volviendo insostenible el fundamento de tipos de cambio fijos.

Luego del colapso definitivo del patrón oro-dólar, para los años setenta, la liberalización cambiaria resultante hubiera significado la desaparición del FMI al extinguirse su razón de ser.

Pero la capacidad de adaptación de esta entidad y el aprovechamiento de las propias consecuencias del colapso del esquema original, le dieron nueva vida y poder.

La crisis económica de los países latinoamericanos en los ochenta, fundamentada en la crisis de su deuda externa, impulsó a que el FMI se convierta en el prestamista obligado para atender las necesidades urgentes de financiamiento de estos países sobre endeudados y con sus canales convencionales de acceso a recursos rotos. Esta coyuntura derivó en un redireccionamiento del papel del FMI, ahora convertido en el puntal del Consenso de Washington para la imposición del modelo neoliberal como opción única de manejo económico a través del condicionamiento de los recursos que esta entidad prestaba a los tan necesitados países de la Región.

La paradoja neoliberal impulsada desde el FMI obligó a que dos décadas de recuperación económica de América Latina no hayan podido aprovecharse para mejorar la calidad de vida de los más necesitados a través de un real fortalecimiento de las economías. El creciente ahorro nacional que se iba gestando de un lado gracias al sacrificio de la población, resultó en un proceso de acumulación obligado a título de alcanzar niveles “adecuados” de reservas internacionales como requisito para que por el otro lado, los países puedan recibir recursos del FMI y su aval para otros créditos de la banca multilateral de desarrollo para financiar un supuesto desarrollo económico condicionado por todos lados. Es en esta lógica del financiamiento para el desarrollo en la que se inscribe el Banco Mundial, asimismo, transmutado en su condición desde unos inicios institucionales que bien podrían haberse inscrito en esfuerzos orientados a la canalización de recursos efectivamente para impulsar a las economías más necesitadas. Pero, en el mismo contexto del Consenso de Washington vino a convertirse en otro más de los mecanismos de condicionamiento del manejo económico de los países prestatarios y altamente necesitados de recursos para su desarrollo.

En esta línea y con la condicionalidad asociada al cumplimiento de las “recetas” del FMI, el Banco Mundial juega un papel complementario en la imposición de un modelo económico tendiente a perennizar los esquemas vigentes de explotación y beneficio para unos pocos, tanto en la escala global como en la local.

Dos décadas de neoliberalismo solo afianzaron las arcaicas estructuras de subyugación económica al Norte. Se exacerbó el esquema vigente en la división internacional del trabajo.

Muchas economías de la Región evidenciaron procesos de reprimarización de su producción y de concentración de sus exportaciones en pocos productos con reducido valor agregado y pocos destinos. Asimismo, se afianzó en un círculo vicioso un progresivo deterioro de los términos de intercambio que por el lado comercial exigía cada vez más su compensación por el lado financiero a través del endeudamiento externo.

Es en esas circunstancias de desprotección y arrasamiento de las estructuras productivas que la Región ahora viene a enfrentar una crisis financiera y económica internacional de escala global en la que nuevamente sus causantes pretenden que el resto pague la factura.

Es precisamente en respuesta a este fracaso que se plantea como alternativa efectiva y soberana la configuración de una Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional.

2. El Banco del Sur, génesis, oportunidad histórica y necesidad de su consolidación en el contexto regional

El día 9 de diciembre de 2007, el Ecuador, junto con otros seis países sudamericanos, Argentina, Brasil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay y Venezuela, suscribió el Acta Fundacional del Banco del Sur, entidad consagrada al impulso del desarrollo económico y social desde una nueva perspectiva, acorde con las necesidades particulares de la región. Este esfuerzo ratifica la voluntad de los países de dar soluciones viables a los principales problemas que han postergado mejoras en los niveles de vida de la población y la justicia social.

El Banco del Sur surge como el eje articulador de una nueva arquitectura financiera regional (NAFR) dirigida a cubrir las necesidades del desarrollo que no han podido ser atendidas desde los espacios de acción de las entidades y organismos multilaterales que tradicionalmente han asumido ese papel. De esta manera, el Banco del Sur será el pilar de esta redefinición estructural que, junto al Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur, entidad encargada de la estabilización monetaria y cambiaria, y con la creación de una Unidad Monetaria del Sur, configurarán un nuevo esquema financiero en la Región orientado a canalizar sus propios recursos para alcanzar un desarrollo acorde con sus realidades específicas, en un marco de integración.

A través de una redefinición del papel convencional de la banca de desarrollo multilateral, el Banco del Sur viene a dar una salida a la paradoja histórica que ha condicionado el desarrollo económico y social de la Región.

La configuración de las estructuras financieras vigentes ha propiciado que países en desarrollo como el Ecuador permanentemente hayan destinado ingentes recursos privados y públicos, entre estos últimos, principalmente las inversiones de sus reservas internacionales, hacia entidades e instrumentos financieros de países del Primer Mundo, a la par que las necesidades de financiamiento para su propio desarrollo, especialmente las de los sectores más deprimidos y vulnerables de la sociedad, han sido insuficientemente satisfechas a través de un continuo endeudamiento con los organismos multilaterales tradicionales y, muchas veces, condicionadas a intereses ajenos a los objetivos nacionales y regionales.

Además, al constituirse el Banco del Sur como una entidad de carácter regional con el aporte de países que comparten intereses y necesidades similares, no solo queda demostrada su capacidad de impulsar su propio desarrollo, sino que se excluye cualquier posibilidad de injerencia de terceros, ahora casi una norma bajo las estructuras vigentes debido a la participación accionaria mayoritaria de países exógenos a la Región en la actual banca de desarrollo multilateral. En esa misma línea, el Banco del Sur no solo circunscribe el financiamiento del desarrollo a los intereses nacionales de sus miembros, sino que su gobernanza se enmarca en un manejo democrático en que la participación de cada país en las decisiones no estará condicionada a la proporción de su aporte en el capital de la entidad.

La definición de los criterios sustanciales para el impulso al desarrollo que se dará desde el Banco del Sur se asienta en el planteamiento de nuevas prioridades. Primeramente, la denominada soberanía alimentaria define como un eje fundamental del desarrollo de los países su capacidad de atender las necesidades alimentarias de la población desde su propia producción, privilegiando a los productos autóctonos de la región, sin depender de importaciones, de recursos externos o de condicionamientos exógenos y fuera del control de las acciones de política interna.

Asimismo, la soberanía energética, también definida como una condición inobjetable del desarrollo económico, apunta a consolidar la capacidad de los países de aprovechar sus propios recursos energéticos renovables y no renovables sobre la base de sus necesidades y con independencia de otras fuentes externas, respetando al medio ambiente y minimizando el impacto ecológico resultante de su obtención y utilización.

De la misma manera, considerando el papel fundamental de salud en el desarrollo de los pueblos, la acción del Banco del Sur se orientará a garantizar a la población de los países de la Región el acceso a medicamentos de marca y genéricos, a costos asequibles y de producción local, que principalmente combatan enfermedades endémicas para las cuales la oferta convencional desde las grandes casas farmacéuticas del mundo desarrollado no atiende adecuadamente por no tratarse de mercados de alta rentabilidad.

En este mismo espacio, también se encuentra el apoyo a la investigación sobre prácticas médicas ancestrales, incluyendo a los conocimientos agrícolas y ecológicos de los pueblos nativos.

En el conjunto de estas nuevas prioridades, el Banco del Sur también promoverá el desarrollo de instrumentos y mercados post Kyoto a efectos de perfeccionar mecanismos financieros dirigidos a precautelar el medio ambiente y a la protección del acervo ecológico de la Región.

Las acciones del Banco del Sur se enmarcarán en propiciar una nueva dinámica entre Estado, economía popular y empresas, a efectos de potenciar el desarrollo de los países de la Región sobre una base de inclusión de todos los actores productivos.

Por otra parte, si bien décadas atrás, las acciones de la banca multilateral de desarrollo se orientaban hacia el impulso a sectores que bien podían entenderse como dinamizadores del desarrollo económico de los países receptores, desde hace algún tiempo estos esfuerzos más bien se han orientado a financiar la reforma institucional de los Estados nacionales en el marco de políticas específicas originadas en los centros de poder en el mundo sobre las bases de sus propios intereses geoestratégicos. Pero ahora cuando las necesidades de los pueblos demandan nuevos horizontes en una coyuntura que coinciden los gobiernos de varios países enmarcados en una visión divergente de la línea neoliberal prevaleciente en la Región durante más de dos décadas, y más allá todavía, el momento y las condiciones están dados para impulsar una nueva arquitectura financiera.

3. El Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur como pilar de la estabilidad monetaria y cambiaria de la Región

En el marco de la redefinición estructural hacia una nueva arquitectura financiera regional, además del Banco del Sur como pilar fundamental a través de su papel de banca de desarrollo, es también indispensable establecer los mecanismos tendientes a propiciar la estabilidad monetaria y cambiaria de los países miembros, en cumplimiento de los condicionantes mínimos que permitan alcanzar el objetivo de la integración a través de la profundización del comercio intrarregional, así como el establecimiento de mecanismos dirigidos a precautelar y apuntalar las reservas monetarias de los países de la Región, en especial, ante los embates de crisis financieras de carácter global. Es en este sentido que se configurará el Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur, como eje articulador de los instrumentos y acciones destinados a precautelar los niveles de reservas internacionales de los países miembros, a través del uso de recursos de la propia Región, en sustitución de los mecanismos convencionales que caracterizaron la dependencia financiera y de las políticas económicas nacionales a los dictados del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

El Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur incorporará mecanismos dirigidos a que los países miembros puedan mantener sus reservas internacionales en niveles adecuados en caso de enfrentar impactos derivados de crisis financieras locales o externas, así como instrumentos que otorguen las seguridades suficientes para que los bancos centrales puedan enfrentar estos problemas sin requerir del mantenimiento de niveles de reservas muy elevados invertidos en el exterior a costa de que parte de esos recursos puedan canalizarse hacia el financiamiento del desarrollo local.

4. La Unidad de Cuenta en el marco de un Sistema de Pagos Regional

Asimismo, en el marco de la NAFR se evidencia la necesidad de contar con un sistema de pagos regional, con la utilización de una unidad de cuenta regional con el propósito de favorecer la utilización de las monedas locales de los países miembros para la realización de los pagos internacionales. La unidad de cuenta regional se plantea con el claro propósito de desacoplar al comercio intrarregional de la lógica del dólar en un esfuerzo para reducir los costos cambiarios y de transacciones, a efectos de su potenciación como uno de los elementos sustantivos en los esfuerzos dirigidos hacia la integración.

La unidad de cuenta regional es el primer paso dirigido a consolidar en el largo plazo una moneda única regional, de manera consistente con las tendencias mundiales en que se impone la conformación de grandes áreas monetarias, como es el caso actual de Europa con el euro.

En este sentido, ya se ha avanzado con la propuesta del Sistema Único de Compensación Regional (SUCRE) en el que la definición del sistema de pagos para el comercio intrarregional se ha establecido en conjunción con las entidades de financiamiento para el desarrollo inscritas en la NAFR. Con ello, el sistema no se limita a un esquema convencional de compensación de pagos internacionales, más bien, abre la posibilidad de incorporar mecanismos tendientes hacia la ampliación del intercambio intrarregional, fundamentado en el aprovechamiento de las complementariedades productivas en procura de convergencia al equilibrio comercial.

Para ello, se configurará al “sucre” como la unidad de cuenta regional y se establecerán los mecanismos para la definición de los tipos de cambio bilaterales con las respectivas monedas de los países participantes, que serán los medios de pago locales con los que se realizarán las transacciones comerciales internacionales. El sistema de pagos y la unidad de cuenta regional son instrumentos que deberán enmarcarse en un espacio más amplio de políticas comerciales nacionales orientadas hacia los objetivos de integración regional, sobre la base de la redefinición de la división internacional del trabajo, en franca intención de reducir la dependencia comercial bajo el esquema Norte-Sur en el que nuestros países han sido históricos exportadores de materias primas y productos con reducido valor agregado, e importadores de productos industrializados y tecnológicos, con los consecuentes efectos de un deterioro progresivo de los términos de intercambio. Por ello, esta redefinición comercial, asentada en la potenciación de la complementariedad productiva de la Región y viabilizada a través de los instrumentos monetarios regionales, se orientará a reforzar la relación Sur-Sur.

5. Conveniencia de crear un centro alternativo para la solución de las diferencias en materia de inversiones (CIADI alternativo)

En los sesentas el mundo vivía procesos de descolonización por lo que la preocupación central de los inversionistas extranjeros fue la de diseñar mecanismos para defenderse de las expropiaciones y nacionalizaciones confiscatorias. Para resolver esta dificultad, en 1964, el Banco Mundial propuso la creación del Centro de Arreglo de Diferencias Relativas a Inversiones (CIADI).

El CIADI nació como una alternativa excepcional, originariamente como un instrumento defensivo para las inversiones extranjeras, pero desde los años noventa, cuando se dio una ola de ajustes estructurales, privatizaciones y una proliferación de tratados bilaterales de inversión, TBIs, el CIADI empezó a utilizarse como un instrumento ofensivo ampliando el concepto de “expropiación indirecta” a la aplicación de normas legales por parte del Estado receptor de la inversión en su territorio. De esta manera se limitó la capacidad regulatoria de los Estados y en suma se redujo los espacios de políticas públicas.

El CIADI, en la actualidad, se ha transformado en un instrumento ofensivo, pues asegura grandes réditos para las multinacionales, más allá de que éstas verdaderamente inviertan y generen riqueza y trabajo como reza el discurso neoliberal.

De acuerdo a la UNCTAD, en 2007, se estima que al menos 35 nuevos casos (inversionista – Estado) fueron presentados en virtud de la suscripción de TBI’s, de los cuales, 27 fueron interpuestos ante el CIADI. De estos 35 casos 17 se presentaron en contra de los países en desarrollo, 7 en contra de los países en transición y 11 contra los países desarrollados.

En materia de inversiones, según UNCTAD, se prefiere al foro del CIADI, pues el número de controversias presentados ante el CIADI llegaron a 182, las controversias bajo el arbitraje con normas de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho Mercantil Internacional (CNUDMI) ascendió a 80, la Cámara de Comercio de Estocolmo recibió 14 casos, la Cámara de Comercio Internacional recibió 5 casos, en arbitraje ad-hoc se presentaron 5 controversias, y otros 4 casos fueron presentados ante la Corte Permanente de Arbitraje y el Centro Regional de El Cairo.

El CIADI es totalmente dependiente del Banco Mundial, y por lo tanto de los intereses que este Banco representa. El Vicepresidente del Banco Mundial funge como Secretario General del CIADI y el Presidente del Banco, preside el Consejo Administrativo del CIADI, pudiendo designar árbitros conciliadores en los diferendos.

Por otro lado, el alto riesgo de conflicto de intereses, en torno al CIADI puede verificarse en la designación de árbitros, quienes suelen ser abogados vinculados con las transnacionales.

Los mecanismos de solución de controversias tienen un elevado costo para los países receptores.

El principio universal del derecho Non Bis In Idem, según el cuál no se puede juzgar a alguien dos veces por la misma causa, no es respetado por el CIADI, ya que del arbitraje que surge de los TBIs, el doble juzgamiento por la misma causa es posible y sucede.

El proceso de resquebrajamiento de la institucionalidad neoliberal, al tiempo de mostrar las graves deficiencias del sistema de administración de justicia del CIADI, genera la necesidad de proponer un sistema de solución de controversias alternativo a este mecanismo. Esta propuesta, asentada en el respecto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho, fue acogida en el marco de la UNASUR, con la aprobación de su Consejo de Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores de una resolución por medio de la que se constituyó un Grupo de Trabajo, que tiene como objetivo crear dicho mecanismo.

Para que este objetivo pueda alcanzarse, el primer paso está en que los países que forman parte de esta iniciativa denuncien el Tratado de Washington que crea el CIADI.

Seguidamente, deberán realizar una revisión a fondo de cada uno de los tratados bilaterales que han suscrito y que se encuentran en plena vigencia, y se entre a un proceso de renegociación en los casos que sean necesarios –la principal vía de acceso al CIADI son los TBIs, y las demandas a los Estados se basan en las cláusulas de estos contratos.

El sistema a configurarse no puede reproducir los errores criticados, tanto más cuando la realización de la justicia debe ser su objetivo primordial, por lo que debe considerarse:
– El respeto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho.
– Una definición apropiada de inversión.
– Que el arbitraje internacional es un mecanismo de solución de controversias de carácter excepcional y alternativo;
– Que solo podrá ser activado debido al consentimiento claro y expreso de las partes;
– Que el tratamiento adecuado del conflicto de intereses como una estrategia preventiva anticorrupción, es un elemento indispensable.
– Que la posibilidad de revisión de los fallos debe existir;
– Que la rendición de cuentas debe ser completa;
– Que la consecuencia de los actos reprochables de los operadores de justicia deben derivar en responsabilidades administrativas y civiles.

Esta propuesta se asienta en el respeto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho. A partir de aquello, se propone la construcción de un mecanismo de carácter excepcional y alternativo, donde la piedra angular para activarlo sea la voluntad libre y expresa de las partes involucradas; además de la delimitación del verdadero alcance del concepto de inversión; un adecuado tratamiento del conflicto de intereses como una estrategia preventiva anticorrupción, para lo cual se propone el establecimiento de un tribunal permanente que administre justicia con las consecuentes responsabilidades de su actuación, la posibilidad de revisión de sus fallos o laudos a través de un recurso de apelación; un mecanismo accesible por sus costos. En definitiva un sistema alternativo transparente de administración de justicia.

PRESS RELEASE
Kathmandu, shop 27 March 2010
Around 50 representatives belonging to the Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacies (SAPA) call on greater interaction and solidarity among regional groups to address common concerns. In a public forum on “The Asian Challenge: Forging Solidarity, prescription Building Alternatives” on March 26 in the Everest Hotel, SAPA members discussed the multiple crises experienced in Asia – in the economy; in the environment and the climate; and in peace, democracy, human rights and self-determination.
Mr. T. Jayaraman of the Tata Institute in India said that the twin crisis of the climate and the economy requires innovative solutions that challenge the way we organize our economies and our consumption pattern. We cannot solve the problem with a business-as-usual attitude.
The issue of self-determination is a regional concern that implies not only the presence of wars and conflicts, but also raises basic questions about nation-building, the role of the state, and identity. Mr. Sammy Gamboa of the Initiative for International Dialogue said that the important challenge for people’s movements is in mobilizing to support people’s struggles on the ground.
According to Ms. Meena Menon of Focus on the Global South, South Asian groups can learn from the relative success of Southeast Asian groups in doing advocacy at the level of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Still, she said that Southeast Asian groups can be inspired by the level of South Asian identity that has been reached in the sub-region.
The public forum ended in a positive note, with participants agreeing to continue the discussion and striving for common action. The Southeast Asian participants, for instance, were invited to join the People’s SAARC process that will take place in April.
The public forum is part of the two-day General Forum of SAPA, where membership and network issues are also discussed. SAPA is a common platform for communication, consultation and coordination among Asian social movements and civil society organizations engaged in action and reflection for advocacy and campaigning with inter-governmental bodies and processes. SAPA operates through different Working Groups to focus on specific issues like human rights, migration and labor, and rural development. Other Working Groups organize around defined processes like the ASEAN; or around geographical emphasis (South Asia, Northeast Asia).
For Inquiries:
Subodh Raj Pyakurel (INSEC) +977 985 1026841
William Gois (Migrant Forum in Asia) +63 920 9600916
Jenina Joy Chavez (Focus on the Global South) +63 918 9026716