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What are the reason for the Formations of Regional Organizations? Discuss OAS, SAARC, ASEAN, EUROPE?
Reasons for Formations of Regional Organizations.
Generally, the states form regional organizations for three reasons viz. security economic assistance, and political cooperation. A number of regional organizations like the North Atlantic treaty Organization (NATO), Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), and Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) have been formed by the states for security reasons. These organizations determine the disposition of armed forces of the member states, who are also expected to conduct themselves in a particular way under set circumstances. The regional organizations formed for security purposes deprive the member states of independence of action in defense matters by integrating their armed forces.
Secondly, certain regional organizations like European Communities (EC) the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CEMA), the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA), etc. have been formed with a view to promoting economic interests through mutual Economic assistance collaboration in technological know-how, etc. This type of regional organization also restrains the freedom of the member states with a view to avoid duplication and waste and ensure the fullest utilization of the total pooled resources.
Thirdly, some regional organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS), Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the Arab League, and the British Commonwealth of Nations are formed for multi-functional purposes. These organizations try to promote political, economic, cultural as well as military cooperation.
At present, there are such a large number of regional organizations that it is not possible to deal with all such organizations in this book. However, for a proper understanding of regionalism, we shall deal with some of the prominent regional organizations in brief.
Organization of American States (OAS)
This is the oldest regional organization which was created by the states of the American Hemisphere in 1948 with a view to promoting mutual cooperation.
The OAS Charter came into force on 13 December 1951 and was reformed in 1967. The membership of the organization is open to all American states, including Canada. Any member can withdraw from the organization by giving two years’ notice.
It consists of the following organs, which was known as the Inter-American Conference before 1970 is the supreme organ of the OAS. It consists of representatives of all the member states. It meets once in five years at different places by rotation. It determines the policy, structure, and functions of other organs. The Conference takes all the decisions by the majority. As a matter of practice, however, the memberships try to arrive at unanimous decisions.
In addition to the above organization, OAS has certain specialized and subsidiary organizations. The specialized organization includes Inter-American. Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Inter-American Children’s Institute, Inter-American Commission of women, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, inter-American Indian Institute, Pan-American Health Organization, and Pan-American Institute of Geography and History. These agencies look after their allotted specialized functions. The Specialized Institutions of OAS include three Councils viz. Inter-American Economic and Social Council. The Inter-American Cultural Council and inter-American Council of Jurists.
The members of the OAS hold faith in settling their disputes through peaceful methods. Before referring their disputes to the Security Council they submit these disputes to the regional organization. Generally, these disputes are resolved through conciliation of investigation. The members of OAS are pledged to assist each other in case of an armed attack against any American States and correlatively deal With the aggression. An Attack against any state is taken as an attack against all American states.
The members are pledged to resolve amicably the political juridical and economic problem, arising among them, and cooperate in the economic social, and cultural development.
The Organization of American States has played an effective role in checking the threat of Communism in the hemisphere. The organization played an effective role in the Dominican Republic in 1995. It also checked the guerrilla welfare in several states. In the Organization of American States, the United States has played a dominant role, especially in matters relating to security. Similarly in the field of economic development also the USA has played a dominant role and provided necessary finances.
The ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations)
The ASEAN was created in 1967 through Bangkok Declaration by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines Singapore, and Thailand. The leader of these countries felt the need for the organization because of the situation in Vietnam as a result of US imperialist action, a political crisis in Cambodia. Indonesia, Laos, and Burma convinced them that their interest could be best served only if they united. The end of the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia and the strong anti-Chinese stance of the Military regime in Indonesia also facilitated the creation of this organization. However, Burma and Cambodia did not join the organization on account of its anti-Chinese stance.
The main objectives of the ASEAN are:
(i) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region, (ii) promote regional peace and stability
(iii) to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific, and administrative fields,
(iv) to provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational technical and administrative sphere; (v) to promote South-East Asian Studies and
(vi) to collaborate for the greater utilization of their agriculture and industries and expansion of trade etc.
(vii) to maintain close and beneficial co-operation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.
The organization of the ASEAN consists of the Ministerial Conference, Standing Committee, the Secretariat, and a number of Permanent and Ad hoc committees. The Minister’s Conference is
composed of the Foreign Ministers of the member states. The Conference holds periodical consultations with regard to military and other matters relating to the area. Generally, its meeting is held annually in each country by rotation. The Standing Committee meets when necessary between Ministerial meetings for consultation. The meetings are held in the five countries by rotation. The Committee consists of the Foreign Minister of the host country and Ambassadors of the other four countries. The ASEAN also has a permanent Secretariat with its headquarter in Jakarta (Indonesia). The Secretariat was set up in 1976. In addition to these organs, the ASEAN has one permanent committed with headquarter in Singapore and ten special committees, viz., Navigation, Trade and Tourism, Industrial Mineral and Energy, Food, Agriculture and Forestry, Transportation and Communication, Finance and Banking, Science and Technology, Social Development Culture and Information and Budget. In auditing, there are eight ad hoc committees.
During the first few years of its existence, the ASEAN made little progress towards any substantial regional cooperation beyond laying down the framework consultation. However, after 1975, ASEAN underwent transformatively and it really began to move. It not enlarged its administrative machinery but also made serious proposals in respect of economic co-operation and took a unified stand on extra-regional affairs. As one writer has put it “without doubt the machinery has been refined, the framework strengthened and the momentum created for a more serious approach to regionalism.” The strength of the Association rose to nine in 1997. These nine members include Brunei, Indonesia, Laus, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The significance of ASEAN in international affairs lies in the fact that it represents an effort to develop an Asian solution to the Asian problem in a cooperative arrangement consisting wholly of a nation in the region. Although it is mainly concerned with the economic and social problems it has also tried to reduce the foreign influence in the region and assert that all foreign bases in the region are temporary. The Association has also undertaken projects with a view to improving tourism, shipping fishing, trade, etc.
Towards the close of 1997, ASEAN countries were faced with a serious financial crisis. They made a big to resolve the crisis at a summit held in Kuala Lumpur in December 1997. At this summit, the ASEAN leaders called for greater national regional, and international efforts, including the major economies and international financial institutions to overcome the financial turmoil. They appealed to the IMF to expedite measures for the stabilization of the currencies. In March 1998, the Finance Ministers of ASEAN countries met a Singapore and made a bid to arrive at an agreement regarding the implementation of regional currency payments for intra-regional trade. However, they could not achieve much success in this regard.
In September 1999 the economic ministers of ASEAN held a meeting in Singapore and agreed to develop ‘an action plan’ force, consisting of experts from public and private sectors, to develop a broad-based and comprehensive action plan which would cover the physical legal logistical, social and economic infrastructure aspects of an ASEAN e-space. The Economic Ministers agreed to create three ASEAN investment promotions mission which was to interact with Japan, the USA, and Europe and to ensure foreign capital lows to South-East Asia. In November 1999 the leaders of ASEAN met in Manila (Philippines) and decided to advance the target date for the total elimination of tariffs from 2015 to 2010. They also held meetings with representatives of Chine, Japan, and South Korea and agreed to increase mutual understanding and trust in the sensitive political-security sphere through a process of sustained dialogue. They also agreed to cooperate in tackling transnational issues of common concern like drug trafficking, piracy, terrorist activities.
In November 2000, the fourth informal summit of ASEAN plus 3 viz., China, Japan, and South Korea was held in Singapore. At this summit, the leaders announced the launch of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) to “provide a framework for regional cooperation through which the more developed ASEAN members could help those member countries that most need it. IAI would mainly concentrate on three key factors, viz., education, and skill development, and worker training. The leaders also discussed the issue of formalizing the ASEAN plus 3 but could not arrive at any final decision. However, in November 2000 the ASEAN heads of state government signed an “e-ASEAN framework agreement with the objective’ of promoting cooperation to develop, strengthen and enhance the competitiveness of the information communication technology sector in ASEAN. The other objectives of the agreement were to reduce the digital divide within ASEAN member states and promote the liberalization of it products, services, and investments.”
The European Union
The origin of the European Union can be traced back to 1951 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ESCS) was formed by Belgium France, Germany, Italy Luxembourg, and the Netherlands under the Treaty of Paris Two now bodies were created by these countries in 1957, viz., European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) with a view to integrate economies of these countries and achieve political unity. All the above three bodies collectively came to be known as European Community. Amendments were carried out to the earlier treaties by the Single European Act of Luxembourg in 1985 and the Maastricht Summit of 1991. The European Community was renamed as European Union on 1 November 1993.
The membership of the Union which stood at 6 at the time of its Formation increased to 9 in 1973 with the admission of the UK, Denmark, and Ireland as full members. In 1981, Greece joined the Council. This was followed by an admission of Portugal and Spain in 1986 and Austria, Finland, and Sweden in 1995. Thus at present, the European Union has 15 members and is regarded as the world’s biggest and richest supranational bloc.
The chief objectives of the European Community including
(i) consolidation of the tariff schedules of the members into a single system applicable to imports from Third World countries
(ii) progressive reduction and removal of all fiscal and physical restrictions on the free movement of goods capital and labor, between member states. With a view to eliminating competition, the members concentrate on the production of commodities for the entire community and as such, each member concentrates on the production of a limited number of items and produces them in bulk.
The organization of the European Union consists of the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament the European Commission, and the Court of Justice. The European Council comprises the heads of states of the government of all the member states. The Council of Ministers meets at least twice a year. It elects a President who holds office for a term of six months. The Council takes all decisions on the basis of unanimity rather than a majority.
The Council of Ministers consists of the foreign ministers or the 15 members of states. These members represent the interests of their respective countries rather than that of the European Union. The Council meets at least once a month and takes all major decisions. The Council works in complete cooperation with the Commission and the members of the Commission also take an active part in the deliberations of the Council.
The European Parliament or Assembly is a large body consisting of representatives of all the member states. These members are elected by the legislatures of the respective states from amongst themselves. Representation has been accorded to the various member states in the Parliament on the basis of their population and economic potentials. These members are not expected to work according to the instructions of their government but to take independent decisions. The Parliament exercises general supervision over the working of the Commission and exercises general supervision over the working of the Commission and the Council through debates and annual reports. The Parliament can make formal recommendations to the council on its own, although these recommendations are not binding on the Council.
With the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam on 1 May 1999, the powers of the European Parliament were considerably enlarged. It was given the power to monitor the European Union’s budget and to accept or reject the recommendations of the European Commission.
The European Commission comprised of 20 members appointed for a term of five years. These members are appointed with the unanimous consent of the member government. Each Commission is responsible for a specific area of work. The Commission takes all decisions by majority vote and is collectively responsible at the European Parliament. The Commission operates through 23 Director-General and is assisted by a large number of bureaucrats. The Commission ensures the Implementation of the policy and initiates new policy. The commission is expected to uphold the European ideal.
The Economic and Social Committee consists of representatives drawn from the economic and social life of various countries. These members are appointed by the Council for a term of four years by unanimous vote. Usually, one-third of these members represent the trade union, one-third represent the employers and the rest represent the general interest. The recommendations of the Economic and Social Committee are treated with due deference by the Commission, even though they lack binding character.
Then there is a Court of Justice, its members are appointed for a term of six years. The court ensures the observance of the rule of law in the countries of the community and interprets the treaties and laws of the European Union. The decisions of the Court are binding on all the parties, including the government and there cannot be any appeal against them.
The necessary finance to meet the expenses of the Community are contributed by the member states in agreed proportions.
The European Economic Community has proved quite effective as a regional organization. It has not only been able to solve the problem of tariff adjustment among the members and ensure greater co-operation among them, but also exercise influence over other regions of the world in the sphere of economic development. To a large extent, the idea of evolving regional organizations for greater economic cooperation in different regions of the world drew inspiration from the success of the European Union.
Single EC Market.
Efforts to achieve greater unification among members of EC were stepped up in December 1992 when the Edinburgh Summit evolved a formula for the creation of a single market within the barrier and amending various rules and laws across the countries of the community. The creation of a new border-free single market within the Community has resulted in tearing down the barriers to trade in goods and services among all EC countries. Even the travelers can move freely over the new single market and the bankers are free to open new branches anywhere. The workers and professionals can also move about freely from one country to another. It is hoped that this market would ultimately lead to the emergence of ‘unified Europe, even though the task is not likely to be all smooth.
Borderless European Union.
A further step in the direction of European unity was taken in March 1995 when Schengen agreements were signed to enable some 370 million citizens to move freely within the union. Initially seven countries, viz. Germany, France, Spain, Portugal Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands decided to abolish their border controls Subsequently eight other member states also signed the agreement. As a result, how the European citizens can travel without a passport most retains from Iceland to Greece in the Mediterranean. Of late due to exodus of Kurds from Turkey, Iraq to European Union countries has posed a serious threat to the open border policy and apprehensions have been expressed in certain quarters that the member states may not be able to practice ‘open border’ policy for long. It may be noted that England and Ireland have not accepted the Schengen agreement.
Economic and Monetary Union.
In March 1998, eleven of the 15 members of the European Union, announced their decision to create a Monetary Union and merge their currencies at the beginning of 1999. These eleven countries include Germany France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Spain, Portugal, and Austria. Three members of Britain, Denmark, and Sweden refused to join the Monetary Union, while Greece could not qualify for membership in terms of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which had laid down the criteria to be fulfilled by the countries seeking membership of the Monetary Union. This was a significant development.
On 1 January 1999, Euro was launched and the exchange rates of participating currencies were irrevocably fixed. It was decided to use Euro as book money. During the next phase commencing 1 January 2002, all contracts shall be automatically converted and Euro notes and coins introduced. On an agreed date, not later than 1 July 2002, all national currencies shall cease to be legal tender.
The Eurozone grouping Germany, France, Austria, Belgium Finland Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain account for nearly a filth of the world economic output and trade. Euro shall be the second-largest economy in the world after the United States. After the four other members of the European Union join Euro Zone, the Euro Zone is expected to emerge as the largest economy in the world.
In January 1999 the finance ministers of EU states met in Brussels and tried to work out a strategy to combat unemployment. They considered prospects of creating a job promoting tax system in the 15 EU countries. However, Britain strongly opposed the proposal of tax harmonization on the ground that it would challenge British sovereignty.
In the meanwhile, in December 1998 France and Britain entered into a new joint defense pact which sought to give the EU a voice in military corner US dominance within NATO.
In December 1999 the leaders of the 15-member European Union (EU) had a summit meeting in Helsinki (Finland). They opened the doors of the EU for seven new candidates-Slovakia, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Turkey. This was in addition to the Six members in waiting, viz., Hungary the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia, and Cyprus waiting for entry by 2003.
Another notable feature of the Helsinki Summit was that a decision was taken to create a rapid reaction force for Europe. The force was to consist of 50,000 to 60,000 troops drawn from member states and was to become operational by 2003. These new forces have their own staff, warships, and satellites to respond to emergencies without banking on the US. It is noteworthy that the EU agreed to continue NATO for collective defense. The EU force was to be deployed in areas where NATO chooses not to act. In times of crisis, NATO was also allowed to use European troops. As the above arrangement would put a check on American hegemony. It described the European force as a duplication of NATO and hence wasteful, However, the European Union leaders believe that the move would improve the equilibrium of the trans-Atlantic alliance in the long run.
In June 2000 a mid-year summit meeting of 15 nations European Union took place in Portugal. The two main issues which came up for consideration at the summit were tax proposals that had divided the EU since 1997 and the political sanctions imposed on Austria. With regard to tax on private savings, it was decided that the national tax authorities could tell one another about the interest paid by banks to the non-resident savers, to tackle the problem of tax evasion. With regard to Sanctions against Austria, the EU decided to lift the sanctions imposed in February 2000 in protest against the entry of the far-right Freedom Party into Austria’s coalition government. These sanctions had isolated Austria from all forums of the EU. It was felt that sustaining a section against Austria could have a negative impact on the Euro. Another important action of the Summit was the approval of the membership of the Euro for Greece from 1 January 2001, making it the twelfth country to join the single currency launched in 1999.
Another notable decision of the Summit related to the creation of a rapid reaction unit of 1000 police officers within 30 days. These units were to work for the presentation of internal conflicts and restoring law and order in place places such as Kosovo, East Timor, and E1 Salvador.
In December 2000 a summit of the heads of state and government of the 15 member EU was held at the French resort town Nice. One of the main tasks which confronted the leaders was the reformation of the EU’s institutions to pave way for the eastward expansion of the community. The members agreed that unless the EU’s present voting and decision-making systems were overhauled, a Union with 28 members would become ungovernable. However, on several other issues, which were discussed by the summit, there was wide disagreement. These issues included weighted voting within the Council of ministers an extension of the system of qualified majority voting (QMV) to more areas; the size and composition of the European Parliament and a rehaul of the mechanism for increased cooperation for countries economically and politically in a position to do so. However, ultimately a compromise was reached on the various issues.
It was agreed that the majority voting system QMV would be extended to decisions in more areas including trade in services and some immigration and asylum issues. However, matters relating to tax and to tax and social security were to be subject to national vetoes. On the question of rebalancing of votes, it was agreed that big countries should get more votes within the Council of Ministers but the smaller counters should also get more votes relative to their population. With regard to representation on the European Commission, each state was to retain its commissioner until 2005. Thereafter the large countries agreed to give up their second commissioners. After 2007 the strength of the Commission would be 20. As the new members join the EU, the number of members of the European parliament would group from 626 to 728. It was decided that the Nice Agreement would have to be ratified by the European Parliament.
According to critics, the summit widened the gap between members of the EU, especially the small and big countries. This led to disunity rather than harmony in the Union.
Asylum and Migration
In February 2001 the Home Ministers of 15 member countries of the EU met in Sweden (Stockholm) to tackle the problem of asylum seekers and economic migrants. The EU states agreed to plug their borders to check the constant flow of immigrants and close loopholes in their laws which are exploited by human traffickers and smugglers.
Regional Co-Operation in South n South Asia
Encouraged by the experience of the European Economic Community (EEC) the countries of the South Asia region decided to co-operate with each other. A number of factors impelled the countries of the region-Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka-to cooperate with each other.
Firstly The growing rivalry between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union and China encouraged the outside powers to intervene in the affairs of South Asia. For example, U.S.A. was able to interfere in Pakistan because of its conflicts with India and Afghanistan. Similarly, the Soviet Union and China were able to interfere in the region due to conflicts between various countries. However, subsequently, the countries of the region realized that they must co-operate with each other to prevent interference by outside powers.
Efforts to Promote Cooperation
The first step in the direction of encouraging cooperation among the countries of South Asia was taken by President Ziaur Rehman of Bangladesh. Between 1977 and 1980 he paid visits to Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and held a consultation with the leaders of these countries on the need for co-operation among the countries of the region. In the light of these consultations, he addressed letters to the Heads of Governments of these countries impressing the need of establishing some institutional arrangement for regional co-operation and proposed a summit meeting. He circulated a working paper that provided the basis for further discussion regarding the proposed regional organization. The paper said.
“Economic and technical co-operation on a regional basis was accepted by all developing countries as a desirable and necessary strategy within the framework of ECDC and TCDC. In South Asia, as in other regions of the world, we have countries at different levels of development some are relatively less developed than others. Any proposal for economic cooperation must consequently be formulated with the greatest care in order to ensure that the weak are not exploited with the greatest care in order to ensure that the weak are not exploited and that the strong do not dominate. The areas selected should only be these in which co-operation will mutually benefit all these countries irrespective of existing economic disparities so as to make regional co-operation meaningful, strengthen the spirit of mutual trust and understanding and bridge the developmental gaps existing among the region”
The working paper identified eleven areas of possible cooperation, viz.,
(6) Agricultural-Rural Sector,
(7) Joint Ventures,
(8) Market Promotion in selected commodities; (9) Scientific and Technical co-operation,
(10) Education and Technical Co-operation and (11) Cultural Co-operation.
In April 1981 the Foreign Secretaries of seven South Asian Countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) met at Colombo to consider the proposals outlined in the working paper submitted by Bangladesh President. At this meeting, the Foreign Secretaries agreed on the need for regional cooperation but asserted that it should not be a substitute for bilateral or multilateral cooperation. It could complement bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The meeting agreed to explore possibilities of cooperation in five fields, viz., Agricultural; Rural Development; Communication; Meteorology, and Health and Population activities. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and Nepal respectively were to act as coordinators tor Pakistan, India and Nepal respectively were to act as coordinators for the above five subjects and to make concrete recommendations for consideration by the Foreign Secretaries at the next meeting to be held within six months. The meeting also decided to set up a Committee of the whole consisting of the senior officials of the seven countries to identify and report on other areas of possible co-operation. Sri Lanka was to act as the Coordinator of this Committee. This Committee subsequently met at Colombo and identified 13 areas of possible co-operation. These areas also included some of the areas which had been earlier recommended in the working paper submitted by Bangladesh.
The second meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the South Asian countries was held in November 1981 at Kathmandu. This meeting endorsed the recommendations of the five study groups as well as the report of the Committee of the whole. It also decided to institute studies in the areas of Transport, Postal Services, and Scientific & Technical Co-operation. Maldives, Bhutan, and Pakistan respectively were to act as coordinators for these fields.
The Third Meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the South Asian States was held in Islamabad (Pakistan) in August 1982. The meeting considered the report of the Study Groups in Transport, Postal Services, Scientific and Technological Co-operation and endorsed the recommendations contained in these reports. The meeting also agreed to constitute new study groups on Sports, Art, and Culture. It may be noted that as a result of these deliberations a fairly broad-based and comprehensive scheme of South Asian Regional Co-operation was evolved and almost all the fields outlined in the working paper of Bangladesh, with the exception of tourism and joint ventures, were accepted. In fact, some of the new subjects like telecommunications, postal services, and sports were also included. A notable achievement of the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the South Asian countries at Islamabad was that it emphasized the “importance and imperative necessity of holding a ministerial meeting at an early date.” It decided to go recommended to their Foreign Minister to convene a meeting at their level between May and September 1983, to be preceded by a preparatory meeting of the Foreign Secretaries.
The next meeting of the foreign ministers of South Asian countries was held at Dacca in March 1983. It endorsed the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee of the whole and recommended the adoption of the Integrated Programme of Action by the Foreign Ministers. It decided to set up a Standing Committee at the regional level for coordinating and monitoring the Integrated Programme of Action. The meeting asserted that necessary preparatory work for a ministerial-level meeting has been successfully completed and expressed the necessity of holding a Ministerial Meeting at an early date. It suggested that the meeting of Foreign Minister be held at New Delhi. However, it left the precise dates for the meeting to be settled through consultation. The meeting also agreed that studies be initiated in due course to identify the areas of co-operation in addition to those already identified.
New Delhi Meeting (August 1983)
In August 1983 the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan met at New Delhi. Their meeting was preceded by a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of these countries at New Delhi in July 1983. At the conclusion of the meeting the foreign ministers, signed a Declaration on South Asian Regional Co-operation. The foreign ministers expressed their concern about the common probes and aspirations of the people of South Asia and emphasized the need of accelerating their economic and social development through regional cooperation. They also expressed their conviction that increased co-operation, contacts, and exchanges among the countries of the region would contribute to the promotion of friendship, amity, and understanding among their people. The declaration highlighted the following objectives of the South Asian Regional Co-operation;
(1) to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and improve the quality of their life,
(2) to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential;
(3) to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South-Asia; (4) to contribute to mutual trust, understanding, and appreciation of one another’s problem,
(5) to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical, and scientific fields
(6) to strengthen co-operation with other developing countries;
(7) to strengthen co-operation among themselves in international forums on common interests and
(8) to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes. The declaration asserted that cooperation in the above field shall be based on the principle of sovereign equality territorial integrity political independence, non-interference in international integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs of other states, and mutual benefit. It reiterated that co-operation shall not substitute but complement the bilateral and multilateral relations.
The Foreign Ministers also agreed on certain institutional arrangements for making the co-operation more effective. They envisaged the following institutional arrangement.
New Delhi Meeting of SAARC (1984)
The SAARC (South Asian Regional Co-operation) held its first meeting in New Delhi on 27 February 1984. This meeting asserted that friendly political relations among the countries of the region must go hand in hand with co-operation in economic, social, and cultural fields. The meeting emphasized the need of reducing the dependence on outside countries for essential requirements and affirmed the collective resolve of the government to pursue actively South Asian Regional Co-operation and to launch an integrated program of action.
Meeting at Male (1985)
Another notable development was the meeting of the Standing Committee of South Asian Regional Co-operation at Male in February 1985. This meeting recommended the establishment of the ministerial Council of SAARC countries to institutionalize their collective resolve to pursue mutual co-operation and launch an integrated program of action. The ministerial Council shifted emphasis from studies and Workshops to action-oriented projects. The proposal was cleared by the Foreign Ministers and put up for adoption before the first session of the Heads of States and Government of SAARC countries at their meeting at Dhaka in December 19850.
Regionalism and United Nations.
The relationship between regional Organizations and the United Nations has been a subject of heated controversy amongst scholars and widely divergent views have been expressed on this issue. On the one hand, there are some scholars who regard regionalism as a stepping stone towards globalism. They argue that regionalism is a necessary and intermediate stage in the slow process of the world organization. With the consolidation of the pr-existing fragmentary units, the present-day regional entities will be ultimately superseded by a global system. It is argued that the big size and heterogeneous character of the world do not permit the development of a working sense of common involvement among the states. On the other hand, within the region, the states with common cultural foundations, common loyalties, and common interests can find a more effective solution for their problems. According to these scholars, “the regional organizations do not expand or coalesce into a world system but rather provide working models and serve as a training ground for the organization on a world scale. They invent techniques, conduct experiments in advanced forms of international collaboration and develop among their participants the habits and attitudes which prepare the way for a successful organization of the globe.”
Winston Churchill was one of the strongest advocates of regionalism. At the San Francisco Conference (1943) he suggested: “there should be several regional councils, august but subordinate and these should be several regional councils august but subordinate and these should form the massive pillars upon which the world organization would be founded in majesty and calm”. In fact, there was a sizable section of members at the San Francisco Conference who were of the view that the post-war organizations would be based on three regional councils-one each for the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Asia, But the idea had to be abandoned on account of strong opposition from the USA, which felt that European participation in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Asia. But the idea had to be abandoned on account of strong opposition from the USA, which felt that European participation in the Western Hemisphere Organization would be embarrassing to it.
On the other hand, certain other scholars have expressed firm opposition to the global organizations and argued that the two types of organizations are opposed to each other and cannot co-exist. They regard “regional arrangements as little more than poor camouflaged power alliance evil creations of an anarchic world that are wholly incompatible with the principle of collective security.” Deep commitment to universalist has also tended to make than regard regional arrangement as a menace to peace and order. At the San Francisco Conference also countries like to USA, China, and the Soviet Union expressed opposition to regional organizations on the ground that it would weaken the proposed international organization (UNO). However, ultimately the UN Charter reconciled the principles of regionalism and universalism and provided that while the regional arrangement could be made for preserving peace and security in the various regions, they could be made for preserving peace and security in the various regions they would keep the Security Council constantly informed of their activities and thus keep the Security Council constantly informed of thus maintaining the supremacy of the world organization. This arrangement and the maintain supremacy of the world organization. This arrangement has been highly appreciated by Summer Wells, He says, “By providing the Regional Arrangements and by permitting Regional Agencies to undertake the primary task of resolving regional disputes under the supreme authority of the Security Council, the Charter established a precedent which in my judgment is not only altogether practical but one while likewise destined to enhance the probability of the maintenance of world peace in future… These provisions should result in a speedy and effective solution of innumerably local disputes by those best fitted by knowledge of the details involved to find practical and just solutions, namely the neighbors of each community.”
The European Economic Community has proved quite effective as a regional organization. It has not only been able to solve the problems of tariff adjustment among the members and ensure greater co-operation among them, but also exercise influence over other regions of the world in the sphere of economic development. To a large extent, the idea of evolving regional organizations for greater economic cooperation in different regions of the world drew inspiration from the success of the European Economic Community.
Impact and Importance of Regional Organizations
It has been argued in certain quarters that the formation of regional organizations has greatly undermined the position of the United Nations and poses a serious threat to the existence of International Organizations. For example, Carlos Romulo of the Philippines observed that the United Nations is dying because the states are more and more taking the great political issues outside the framework of the organization. Similarly, Edger S. Furniss also holds that “The United Nations has been placed in a position of inferiority that now the links between the regional arrangement and the world organization exist at the practical pleasure of the former”. However, the above view is not universally accepted and the majority of the scholars hold it is erroneous. This erroneous view largely exists because of the assumption that the regional organization is also concerned with all the problem which are the concern of the United Nations and operate at cross purposes with the world body. Actually, the regional organizations serve as adjuncts to the UN and are subordinate and harmonious with the United Nations. They have proved immensely useful in many ways. In the first place, it is proper and natural for the neighbors in any region to organize to meet their common problems. The members of regional organizations are able to deal with their problems more effectively. Thus they relieve the United Nations of Some burden of handling the local problems and concentrate its attentions on the global problems.
Secondly, the regional organizations are able to meet threats to peace more effectively by guaranteeing regional collective security. The UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie also admitted that the regional arrangement can be a very useful element in the preservation of world peace provided they recognize the supremacy of the Charter.
Thirdly, the regional organizations have played an important role in promoting social and economic cooperation among the member states and encouraged them to rise above narrow nationalism. In this respect, they constitute an important step towards universalism. As Prof. Palmer and Perkins have observed. “If international regionalism is properly developed and is closely integrated into a more universal framework…. it can fill a real gap in the existing pattern of international society.”
Finally, the regional organizations are also able to operate more freely without ideological obstruction. In short, we can say that regional organizations have played a significant role in the international sphere without undermining the authority of the United Nations because by and large these organizations have accepted the overall authority of the United Nations.