SAARC Charter of Democracy

Inspired by the common objectives of all South Asian States to promote the welfare of their peoples, to provide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity, and to realise their full potentials as enshrined in the SAARC Charter;

Also inspired  by the general objectives of all South Asian States to promote peace, freedom and social justice;

Further inspired by their shared commitment to the rule of law, liberty and equal rights of all citizens;

Reaffirming faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity of the human person as enunciated in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and as enshrined in the respective Constitutions of the SAARC Member States;

Recognizing that inclusive policies, including constitutional protection developed in keeping with the wishes of the people, are essential for developing trust and understanding between and among communities;

Affirming that broad-based participation of people in institutions and processes of governance creates ownership and promotes stability;        

Convinced that economic growth and social development based on justice and equity and democracy are interdependent and mutually reinforcing;

Reaffirming that the pursuit of inclusion, good governance, and poverty alleviation, especially the elimination of extreme poverty, are essential to the promotion and consolidation of democracy;

Aware that tolerance and diversity are critical in creating effective foundations for a pluralistic democratic society; and

Convinced that undemocratic and unrepresentative governments weaken national institutions, undermine the Constitution and the rule of law and threaten social cohesion and stability in the long-run.

The Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in the spirit of consolidating democracy in South Asia, hereby commit to:

-  Reaffirm the sovereignty of each Member State;

-  Ensure the supremacy of their respective Constitutions and uphold their spirit;

-  Continue to strengthen democratic institutions and reinforce democratic practices, including through effective coordination as well as checks and balances among the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary as reflected in the respective Constitutions;

-  Guarantee the independence of the Judiciary and primacy of the rule of law, and ensure that the processes of appointments to the Judiciary as well as the Executive are fair and transparent;

-  Adhere to the UN Charter and other international instruments to which Member States are parties;

-  Recognise the role of political parties and the civil society in a democracy; and

-  Renounce unequivocally any unconstitutional change of an elected government in a Member State;

 Accordingly, Member States undertake to:

-  Reinforce the linkage of development and democracy;

-  Promote sustainable development and alleviation of poverty through good governance, equitable and participatory processes;

-  Promote democracy at all levels of the Government and the society at large;

-  Strengthen democratic institutions and processes in all national endeavors with due focus on decentralisation and devolution;

-  Promote equality of opportunity, equality of access and equality of treatment at the national level, in keeping with the respective constitutional provisions, as safeguards against social injustices and stratification;

-  Inculcate democratic values in society through education and awareness building;

-  Ensure gender mainstreaming in government and society;

-  Uphold participatory democracy characterised by free, fair and credible elections, and elected legislatures and local bodies;

-  Encourage all democratic forces  in South Asia, including elected representatives of the people,  to unite against any unconstitutional change in government in any South Asian country, and work towards the restoration of democracy in keeping with the SAARC Charter; and

-  Promote adherence to these decisions and fulfillment of this Charter, if necessary through an institutional mechanism.