During the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu leaders agreed on the need to strengthen and support democracy. Consequently a conclave of Parliamentarians convened in Colombo and the task for bringing to the table a concept paper on a Charter for Democracy in SAARC was undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh. The 2 day Inter-Governmental meeting held recently in Dhaka where delegations from member States attended was to to finalize and adopt a draft SAARC Charter for Democracy based on the concept paper and framework.
The idea for such a Charter arouse from recognizing the inherent link between democracy and development.
The Bangladeshi foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes chaired the meeting comprising of delegates from all the SAARC States. The meeting began at 10 AM and closed for the day close to 9 PM to re-convene the next morning.
The IGM was aimed to arrive at an agreed draft document to be processed through SAARC’s regular channels.
The second day of the IGM saw more than 3 hours of discussion and successfully adopted the draft SAARC Charter for Democracy.
The SAARC Charter for Democracy has numerous clauses but the most significant in terms of the origination of the nomenclature for the draft Charter can be linked to two clauses where the member states commit and ‘renounce unconstitutional change in Government in South Asia’ and also undertaking like ‘member states unite against unconstitutional change in Government and work towards restoration of democracy’.
How much changes the draft Charter/document goes through remains open since it is still at a draft stage. At the same time it would be too premature to imagine what the draft would materialize into. But this definitely seems like an interesting development and will have far reaching impact in our region. Legitimacy of democratically government or governments mandated by the will of the people allow and their recognition in many ways influence the sustainability of democracy and therefore, engagements as democratic member states. The draft envisions that such stability and sustainability is maintained.