[December 23, 2004 - 6.00 GMT]
Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar said the SAARC Social Charter has played a key role in the overall SAARC process to make it more equitable and representative of the people of South Asia and in bringing the government and the civil society together to address vital social problems.
The Minister was chief guest at the SAARC Charted Day, celebrated early this week on the theme of “SAARC Social Charter”, hosted by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s office.
Minister Kadirgamar also spoke of the SAARC process moving away from solely government oriented agendas to incorporate joint agendas set by civil society and non-government actors within SAARC member states. He predicted that the Association would be people driven and that the future of SAARC would be in the hands of the people.
Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, secretary Lalith Weeratunga explained the work done by the PM’s office in bringing civil society and members of the NGO community to work together to fulfil provisions of the Social Charter.
He further said that the PM’s office was able to tap into the grass root level and then effectively assist people.
The Heads of the Seven South Asian countries of SAARC on December 8 1985, signed the Charter to establish the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). On SAARC Charter day all member states hold celebrations to raise public awareness of the commitment of government’s to the SAARC process and to highlight some of the principal activities and the work of the association.
The SAARC Social Charter was signed at the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in January 2004. The conclusion of the SAARC Social Charter, seeks to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia to improve their quality of life, accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development.
Sri Lanka is in the
process of setting up a National Coordinating Committee (NCC) mandated under
the Social Charter to implement the Charter.
The NCC in Sri Lanka to be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s
office, will include all the relevant line Ministries in the social sector
and will bring together partners in civil society and the NGO sector at a
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