Engagement with SAARC and strengthening Citizens’ Voice

Being the primary state level organization in the region, SAARC provides a stage and target audience for SAHR unlike any other. Though SAARC has been an active platform for many regional issues relating to Trade, Economy and Development, issues relating to human rights do not get enough attention there. SAHR has engaged with SAARC in a limited sense in the past, particularly in relation to the Draft SAARC Charter for Democracy, which was placed at the Inter-Governmental meeting held in Dhaka in September 2010. But currently there is no system or mechanism for consistent engagement with the body.

As SAARC meetings involve representation of the South Asian States at the highest level, giving such a body a human rights consciousness or a subdivision that addresses human rights issues in the region would be a major step towards eliminating human rights abuses throughout South Asia. During the next five years, SAHR aims to influence South Asian governments to adopt the subject of human rights as a SAARC area for cooperation and include it in the agenda at SAARC conferences.

SAHR hopes to develop a systematic approach by which human rights activists can meet with state level actors to voice their concerns and attempt to influence State policy. SAHR intends to extend its advocacy and lobbying activities for best practices, recommendations and policies from the activity areas discussed below to the SAARC level.