i. SAARC Ministerial Conference on Children
The development of children and the promotion of their well-being is a principal area of cooperation identified by SAARC from its very inception. The objective of building a region-wide consensus on social action for achieving the rights of the child and the goals set for them within the framework of a survival, development and protection strategy was addressed during the Ministerial Conferences on Children held in Delhi (1986), Colombo (1992), Rawalpindi (1996) and Colombo (2009).
The Fourth SAARC Ministerial Conference on Children, Colombo 10 July 2009, held after a gap of about twelve years, inter alia, reviewed the progress of work related to assessment of the implementation of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child (2001-2010) and decided that SAARC Secretariat should convene an Expert Group Meeting to provide feedback on the preliminary assessment report and to finalize the report.
SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangement for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia
Pursuant to the decision of the Ninth Summit, the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements on the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia was signed in January 2002 during the Eleventh Summit in Kathmandu. The Convention envisages to facilitate the development of full potential of the South Asian child.
Welcoming the signing of the Convention, at their Eleventh Summit (Kathmandu, January 2002), the Leaders reaffirmed their conviction that children in South Asia deserve urgent and focused attention to achieve the overall progress of the countries in the region. That Summit, therefore, directed the Council of Ministers to take necessary measures to ensure the enjoyment by girl child of her inherent potential and to take concrete steps to give priority to investing in children as an effective means for poverty reduction in the long run.
The Eleventh Summit also agreed to mobilize necessary resources and to intensify broad-based actions to achieve a set of priority goals in improving the status of children, such as polio eradication; protection of children from mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS; and quality basic education to children.
A Regional Task Force has been formed in all the Member States to monitor and assess the implementation of various provisions of the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangement for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia.
The Regional Task Force has met in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
During the First Meeting of the Regional Task Force (New Delhi, 26 July 2007), it was decided that a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to implement various provisions of the Convention, including reporting under Article VIII (5) and repatriation of victims of Trafficking and related matters as defined in the Convention, would be developed.
The Third Meeting of the Regional Task Force (Shimla, May 2009) finalized the draft Standard Operating Procedure. The SOP would be available once it is cleared by the relevant SAARC mechanisms.
iii. SAARC Regional Strategic Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS
The need of facilitating evidence based advocacy and programming for children affected by HIV and AIDS was identified as a key issue in the ‘SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV and AIDS (2006-2010)’ formulated on the direction of the 12th SAARC Summit (Islamabad, January 2004) and its Work Plan endorsed at the 27th Session on the Council of Ministers (Dhaka, August 2006). The Strategy articulates the need to “facilitate evidence based advocacy and programming for children affected by HIV and AIDS in the Member Countries and to coordinate the efforts towards developing costed actions plans in all countries through the mechanism of a regional forum”. The Regional Consultation on Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in South Asia held in Kathmandu in May 2007 formulated a common strategic approach for policy and programming to protect and support these children and their families, namely, SAARC Regional Strategic Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Framework places children affected by HIV/AIDS within the broader group of children in difficult circumstances, and focuses on delivering an integrated response to children’s medical, nutritional, educational, legal and psychosocial needs, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It calls for a universal approach to ensure that children affected by HIV/AIDS have access to the same public and social support systems which are available to other children, rather than being separated or singled out among their peers. This is linked to measures to address the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, and to intervene on behalf of children who are discriminated against as a result of this stigma.
In a Regional Consultation to finalize the Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines for the SAARC Regional Strategic Framework for Protection, Care and Support of Children Affected by HIV/AIDSheldin Kathmandu from 4-5 November 2009, the Member States agreed to final M and E Guide and also to operationalize the indictors. This framework is incoperated into the SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS (2012-2016)
iv. SAARC Decade of the Rights of Child (2001-2010)
Third Ministerial Conference on the Children of South Asia held in August 1996, at Rawalpindi recommended the observance of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child (2001-2010).
During the Eleventh SAARC Summit (Kathmandu, 4-6 January 2002, the Leaders directed the Council of Ministers to take concrete steps to give priority to investing in children as an effective means for poverty reduction in the long run. Reaffirming their commitment to the Colombo Plan of Action and the Rawalpindi Declaration and recalling the declaration of 2001 to 2010 as the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child, the Heads of State or Government noted with appreciation the South Asia High-level Meeting on Children held in Kathmandu in May 2001. They reaffirmed their conviction that the children in South Asia deserve urgent and focused attention to enhance the long-term and overall progress of the countries of the region.
The Thirteenth SAARC Summit (Dhaka, November 2005), decided that a mid-term review of the progress in realizing the objectives of SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child, should be undertaken.
The Fourth SAARC Ministerial Conference on Children (Colombo, July 2009) recommended that an Expert Group Meeting should be held to provide feedback on the report of the preliminary assessment as well as additional comments on the questionnaire and take guidance on conducting the in-depth assessment of implementation of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child.
The Expert Group Meeting to finalize the In-depth Assessment Report of the implementation of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of Child (2001-2010) which was held at the SAARC Secretariat on 2 April 2010.
Assesment Report was lauched duing the 17th SAARC Summit (Addu City, Maldives, 10-11 November 2011)