The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) celebrated its Twenty-ninth Charter Day today. The Charter establishing the Association was signed on 8 December 1985 by the SAARC Heads of State or Government during their first-ever Summit meeting in Dhaka, the initiative for which was spearheaded by late President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh.
To mark the Day, the Heads of State or Government of SAARC Member States issued special messages, vouching their unwavering support and commitment to the SAARC process. SAARC is the regional body that aims to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through regional cooperation in mutually agreed areas. SAARC today caters to almost every sphere of human activity.
All the Member States, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC commemorated the Charter Day by organizing dedicatory events. At the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, hosted a Reception to mark the Day. The occasion brought together high-ranking officials, resident Ambassadors, civil society representatives, business community and a large number of media personnel, among others The Reception also had the presence of Heads of SAARC Divisions in the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of SAARC Member States, who are in Kathmandu to attend the Forty-fourth Session of the Programming Committee that opens at the SAARC Secretariat tomorrow.
The Secretary-General addressed the gathering present on the occasion. At the behest of the Secretary-General, the attending guests also observed a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to late President Nelson Mandela.
On the occasion, the Secretary-General conferred upon the SAARC Youth Award for the year 2011 to Mr. Mohamed Faseen Rafiu of the Maldives in recognition of his outstanding contribution to society under the theme of “Youth Leadership in the fight against social ills.” The Award, which carries a cash prize of US $ 3000, a gold medal and a citation, was instituted in 1994 in order to recognize the extra-ordinary young talents in the region. So far, 11 such awards have been given away to the youth from within the region. Rafiu is the first recipient of the Award from the Maldives.
Concluding his Address at the Reception, the Secretary-General said, “As we mark the Twenty-ninth SAARC Charter Day today, I would like to extend warm felicitations to the people and Governments of our Member States. Let us today recommit ourselves to strengthen SAARC to meet the growing expectations of our peoples in the region.”