The People’s Vision
We, the South Asian People’s Forum, desiring that SAARC embody the aspirations of the People, aver the need for greater efforts for promoting the sovereignty of the People and violence free South Asia through democratic values and structures.
We envision a SAARC that encompasses all people living in South Asia and promote greater understanding and equal respect of all people to eliminate discriminations based on gender, creed, caste, ethnicity and color.
We also insist on declaring South Asia as nuclear free zone.
We promote peace and understanding of disputes, and efforts for settling them amicably at the popular level.
We firmly demand urgent and complete de-nuclearization of South Asia.
We uphold social democracy, secular values, and economic equity and envision sustainable development.
We advocate greater efforts to prevent environmental degradation, and optimum and equitable utilization of resources for the benefit of the people, providing them adequate space to influence and participate in decisions on resource use and management.
We endorse the inalienable right of the People of South Asia to basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, health, education, social security and productive work.
We advocate people to people communication facilities and an end to travel restrictions.
We cherish and uphold the Rule of Law, sovereignty of the people, a system of governance that ensures devolution of power, People’s right to self-rule and control over resources.
We advocate full independence of the judiciary, adhering to internationally recognized values and principles. Pro-people lawmaking has to be participatory, representative and fully transparent.
We believe that People have sovereign rights to take decisions on matters concerning their lives, and urge periodic review of all international commitments and national laws to enable people to exercise sovereignty.
We maintain that governance improvements have to begin and end with the People and that empowerment can result only when power is devolved through effective structural changes.
We also maintain that existing social, economic and political imbalances hinder nation building and that the legislature, executive and the judiciary must be fully inclusive and accountable to the People.
We believe People are the real owners of resources and support mechanisms to make them rightful owners of resources through systems that ensure collective ownership and responsibility.
We uphold the People’s right to information through participation in decision-making and governance.
We believe that internal and external displacement is caused by political, social and developmental factors and any attempt to end displacement should begin with addressing the root causes.
We assert that refugees are sovereign people with sovereign identities and they need to be provided guarantees of protection, dignity and access to basic services until final resolution and/ or repatriation.
We are concerned by the increase in human trafficking (including children, women and marginalized communities) in the region and call for receiving countries to take on responsibility for repatriation and compensation of the victims.
We affirm that discrimination based on gender, caste, creed, and ethnicity and differently able is a major obstacle to meaningful participation of People.
We endorse patriarchy-free South Asia, and support the individual’s right to self-determination and development and uphold their duty to national integration.
We resolve for an immediate and effective end to untouchability, the worst form of discrimination and demand interventions as follows:
- Programs for the uplift of the Dalits and mechanisms to empower them for their rights.
- Reservations, in public as well as the private sector, to ensure participation of all at all levels starting from primary schooling and across all spheres of life.
- Reservations to enable at least 33% representation of women (including Dalits) in all spheres of private and public life and an end to all forms of discrimination against women.
- Discrimination to be considered a real life problem.
- Review of existing laws and modifications to incorporate the implementation of international instruments.
- Equal respect for religious, ethnic and cultural minorities.
We appreciate the changes being discussed for the uplift of women by Islamic groups and will provide support to encourage and facilitate further changes.
We ask for inclusion of rights and security concerns of migrant workers in the SAARC Social Charter.
We believe the right to food is a fundamental right and must be assured through guarantees to equality in work, justice and uniform minimum wages, and land entitlement.
We recommend that relief and aid should be culturally sensitive and value adding, and uphold that hunger and starvation are unacceptable.
Globalization and International Finance and Trade
We believe the existing policies of multilateral aid and trade organizations are anti-people and perpetuate unemployment, poverty and inequalities.
We advocate that all aid and trade agreements and instruments be subject to public scrutiny to ensure transparency and accountability.
We uphold the need for collective SAARC representation and uniform standards for negotiations on aid and trade instruments and the formulation of a common social responsibility standard to govern FDI.
We oppose privatization, particularly that of social infrastructure.
We oppose Foreign Direct Investment without effective social controls and strongly endorse the promotion of small and medium enterprises through people’s markets.
We believe the World Trade Organization is not ratified by the people and advocates only freedom of capital, and ask SAARC to work towards the democratization of the WTO through inclusion of civil society organizations in negotiations.
We ask SAARC to move towards the creation of an economic community to suit the people’s interest and step back from free trade envisaged under the SAFTA, which is an extension of the WTO model.
We believe that the existing ownership of intellectual property and laws governing violations are flawed and advocate stiff penalties for those infringing into the traditional knowledge and services belonging to developing countries.
We uphold the Right of the Child as defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and believe the child is an integral part of society, has the potential to be agents of social change and all children have the right to participate in issues concerning them and be heard.
We believe a child’s right to survival and health is of paramount importance to the progress of the country, and maintain that the child’s right to development be upheld through free and compulsory education, including vocational training, and recreation without discrimination for all and in a child-friendly environment.
We demand that a child’s right to protection be upheld through the abolition of child labor, abusive forms of punishment and all forms of discrimination with special focus on differently-abled children.
We demand that the juvenile justice system be child friendly and be strictly implemented in the region.
We demand immediate resolution of existing social, cultural, economic and political factors that promote the trafficking of children.
We advocate areas where children frequent be declared zones of peace to enable them to grow in peaceful and secure environments.
We oppose involvement of children in all forms of violent conflicts.