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Kathmandu Declaration, South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) 4th General Assembly, 18-19 December 2012

26 January 2013

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  • We the members of the Fourth General Assembly, of SAAPE, having met at Kathmandu, Nepal from 18-20, December, 2012, do hereby, unanimously adopt this declaration.
  • We have assembled at this fourth General Assembly as South Asians drawn from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives and Nepal and taken note of the emerging situation in our respective countries and in South Asia.
  • We are deeply disturbed at the all round degradation in the quality of life that the majority of South Asians are experiencing in their respective countries. We witness increasing deprivations in the human, cultural, economic, social and political spheres of our people.
  • The average South Asian loves to live in peace and harmony with her neighbours both within and beyond the borders that artificially devide us. When South Asians meet in each others country, there is so much of joy, happiness and fraternity, irrespective of religion, language, colour of skin or political affiliation. Yet there is so much of violence, cruelty, murder, rape, arson and looting, when extraneous thinking is injected into the locality, the class room, the market place or the place of worship.
  • The story of Malala bears symbolic witness to what we have stated above. This little girl of Swat region in Pakistan decided that it was her birth right to go to school, but to our utter dismay, certain fundamental forces shot at her and tried to kill her. But this brave could not be killed, in spite of a bullet even in her head. She not only survived but she inspires us with her determination to live as an educated girl against the propaganda of fundamentalists. We, especially, on behalf of all south Asian Girl children rejoice that she has recovered and is alive and smiling.
  • Malala has upheld the right of girl children to attend school in exercise of her fundamental right to education and it is Taliban that is put to shame for this criminal act against an innocent but determined girl child of Pakistan. We wish to adopt her as the daughter of South Asia and call upon all Governments, educational institutions and all child friendly organisations in our region to introduce scholarships for girl children’s education by collecting donations in her name from all citizens of South Asia. Hence forth all school books should have a lesson in their text books explaining the story of Malala and explain how and why she fought for the right to education for all girl children.
  • Simultaneously we take note of the tragic reality in all south Asian countries where millions of children go to bed hungry and grow up in acute malnutrition resulting in stunting and underweight, thus affecting their ability to grow up, study and become good citizens. This is happening after more than two decades of neoliberal growth in all countries of South Asia.
  • The story of hunger, unemployment, disease, illiteracy, homelessness, child labour, gender inequality, discrimination and deprivation, especially against the excluded social groups of our region is writ large in every corner of South Asia.
  • It is considered opinion and our lived experience that ever since the invasion of neoliberalism into our lands this condition of all round human misery stands further accentuated by the day.
  • Unfortunately, our leaders, who represent the elite of South Asia are united in importing this economic model which has spread inequality, human deprivation and erosion of the quality of life of the millions.
  • We must remember that this importation of the economic policies is primarily meant to help the crisis ridden western world of their own problems. This model is inspired by the ’Washington Consensus’ (created by the united action of the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the treasury of the USA) has been imposed on us either through the Structural Adjustment Programme or the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and not through the democratic consensus of our people.
  • Indeed democracy has also been a casualty in South Asia. There are continuing obstacles to our progress along democratic lines. Recent events in different parts of South Asia, however, witness the rise of democratic struggles. The People, the Bar Associations, the Judiciary, the constitution making process, the media and above all civil society has been fighting relentlessly for advancing and consolidating democratic rights. Unfortunately there are attacks and setbacks in our endeavour and most recently these threats have come from fundamentalists of different religious origin and even from the ruling circles of the elite as we have witnessed in Srilanka.
  • At the same time we renew our pledge to Peace and we remain committed to the peaceful path of struggle. We call upon all people’s movements and all forms of protest and mobilization in south Asia to shun the path of armed insurrection. There are too many instances where innocent people are the victims of cross fire and it is time for us to learn that the rich traditions of peace and non-violence, in the world and in our region alone must inspire and guide us in our struggle for a new world-even if it is against imperialism aided and abetted by the local elite for their own aggrandizement.
  • We therefore pledge ourselves in favour of a secular, democratic, humanist order free from discrimination, denial of dignity, and artificial boundaries that impede our travel and our friendships, especially at a people to people level. We want a society that guarantees us all Human rights, especially that which is contained in the international Bill of Rights.
  • We want a people friendly Rule of Law based political order which is guaranteed by a constitutional arrangement in which Sovereignty rests entirely with the people, with the right to recall corrupt officials along with machinery that can put such usurpers of power behind the bars, after due process of law.
  • We call upon all our friends in Civil Society and in people friendly political processes to wake up to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people and to strive for a new world order and to make efforts for the same in South Asia. Let us prepare well for the Peoples SAARC and use the coming opportunity to ascertain the will of the widest sections of civil society and move forward to defeat the forces of fundamentalism, elite rule, exploitation, discrimination based on gender or social group and end all evil within the South Asia.
  • It is important that SAAPE help to appraise the situation of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. International community has not been able to significantly contribute to ease this pending problem. There has been no sign of immediate repatriation of the refugees by the Nepal government.
  • Migration across borders and its impact on receiving states such as the issues in North-East India are foreign related issues as it shares borders with 4 foreign countries. There are major problems resulting from this cross border linkages. Infiltration from Bangladesh has brought about various problems to ethnic communities who are struggling for their rights and ownership to resources. Hence, land grabbing has a completely different meaning for ethnic people.
  • There should be an emergency strategy of SAAPE so as to have a focal point to take immediate actions which will help us to stand up as South Asia, against tragic incidents such as the case of Malala. A People’s Coalition has to be formed and perhaps it can be linked with the Special Team about to be formed for Afghanistan.
  • Trade Measures should have a “Look East” policy. We should critically look at on trade policies being implemented in South Asia by World Bank, IMF etc. to have people’s views on the impact on these policies.
  • Rights to Minorities and No to ‘Majoritarianism’ full citizenship with all entitlements to minorities. There have been cases of cross border inceptions where migrants have not been treated well even within legal framework. States have clear doctrines and secretarization of migration for the interest of national sovereignty and security. There are bilateral and trilateral interests, political pressure and diplomatic protocol to be maintained. In this connection, civil societies should work together to develop a mechanism to work in terms of protecting people who are crossing the border.
  • People’s SAARC and Official SAARC relationship has to be linked and maintained so that the two bodies do not work in isolation.
  • India must not give military aid to South Asia. It is the responsibility of the Indian civil society to break this and show the attitude that Indian politicians are to blame not the Indians in general.
  • Land and natural resource grab in South Asia is the serious issue that has led to the alienation of people from their rights to live and rights to livelihoods. The land grabbing process must be stopped urgently.

Resolutions of 4th General Assembly of South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) held in Kathmandu on 18-19 December 2012

SAAPE Resolution on Afghanistan

The 4th General Assembly of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) inaugurated in Kathmandu on 18 -19 December 2012 with the principal theme of “People’s Struggles for Poverty Eradication Concerning a New Development Agenda in South Asia”. Over 80 members from the eight countries of the region participated in the General Assembly, representing people’s organizations, laborer movements, women movements, civil society actors, youth, academia, human rights activists and grassroots social movements. Afghanistan’s current situation was one of serious topic of discussion during the conference that the following issues raised and agreed by the participants:

By building on the experience gained in the last decade, and by learning from the lost opportunities, Afghanistan and the International Community, based on a common vision, should focus their efforts on bringing security and stability to Afghanistan and in the region in order to prevent citizens of Afghanistan and other countries from being victims of regional terrorism and unrest.

Emphasizing on human rights values and the protection of the achievements made in the last decade, Afghanistan should strive to further its capability in crisis management, fighting corruption, and improving the delivery of social services and development. This also requires the Afghan government and the international community to join hands to further strengthen democratic processes and institutions, protect fundamental rights and freedom of press, and promote human rights principles and end the prevailing culture of impunity. Both parties must increase their joint efforts in promoting people’s trust in a participatory system of governance and the Afghan government’s ability to deliver justice to the victims of war and improve living conditions for the citizens of Afghanistan.

Bearing in mind the above-mentioned issues, General assembly SAAPE proposes the following points to the SAARC countries and international community. We believe these issues will help Afghanistan and unified vision for the future of the Afghan people and the country as a whole, especially in relation to the transition process, the long-term commitment of the International Community, and the peace and reconciliation process:

1. TRANSITION PROCESS

  • Expectation from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan:
  • The fourth phase of Transition should be based on a thorough evaluation of the first phase and lessons learned, with full consideration of the necessary capacities, resources (human and financial), and the demand and satisfaction of the people,
  • Equal attention must be paid to the civilian dimension of the transition process (quality of social service delivery without any gender or ethnic discrimination, good governance, effective measures to curb corruption, promotion and protection of human rights, and reform and independence of Judiciary) in parallel to the military aspect of transition (qualitative and quantitative support to Afghan security institutions),
  • To give priority to implementing the rule of law, supporting and strengthening democratic process and institutions (i.e. reform and independence of electoral process, in particular), and to merit-based appointments,
  • To strengthen healthy working relations between the judiciary, legislative, and executive, and specifically to establish a professional, effective, and responsive cabinet.
  • Conducting upcoming presidential and parliament free and far elections on time according to the constitution without any interfere of the government.
  • To consider, based on past experience and the ineffectiveness of previous methods of one way offer and privileges, the Peace and Reintegration Strategy is a necessary and inseparable ingredient that must complements and support good governance, curbing corruption, independent judiciary reforms, ending culture of impunity, and promoting justice,
  • To uphold human rights values and civil norms in all negotiations and efforts for peace and reconciliation initiatives as a basis for clearly making a distinction between friend and foe and in the implementation of its polices with a clear vision.
  • To implement, based on its international obligations and commitment at the Kabul Conference, Bonn Conference the action plan of transitional justice, while taking practical measures for improving the rule of law, justice and due processes.
  • To no subordination of human rights values, women’s rights, fundamental and civil rights in any political efforts for peace and reintegration process.
  • To consider mechanisms for reintegration that supports justice and accountability for armed groups who wish to join the peace process, while ensuring that they no longer remain a threat to the people and the country.

Expectation from the International Community:

  • To support systems and institutions (particularly civil society and democratic institutions) and focus on infrastructures rather than supporting individuals and their dependent groups,
  • To focus on supporting and building the National Security Forces (ANA &ANP), and not quasi and parallel security setups (Arbaki, local police, and security companies),
  • To continue political, technical, and financial support to state building and nation building efforts in Afghanistan, and exert the required political pressure over regional spoilers meddling in and challenging security in Afghanistan,
  • Not to favor strategies that lead to short-term political solutions and speedy reintegration process as a premature exit strategy,
  • Not to overshadow the regional and international dimension of the conflict in Afghanistan, and, to assist the IRA to address the root causes of the external factors (through military, political and economic pressures),
  • To formalize its presence, and based on the Geneva Conventions, to strictly avoid civilian casualties in order to limit the political exploitation of fundamentalists and regional spoilers,
  • To uphold and apply universal human rights values in Afghanistan in all humanitarian and development assistance (civil and military), while supporting the complementary roles of civil society institutions in consultation, service delivery, humanitarian assistance, public awareness raising and advocacy initiatives,
  • Extend its cooperation for the implementation of sustainable development (poverty Eradication schemes, support to local industries, agriculture, irrigation, commerce, communication networking, and other infrastructure facilities) in order to lead Afghanistan to self-sufficiency and prosperity,
  • Strengthen the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s capacity and capability in furthering its efforts to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and poppy cultivation, based on the decade-long experience in fighting terrorism (at the regional and international levels),
  • Assist - through technical, financial, and security support - the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in conducting a national census in order to have reliable figures and statistics needed for sustainable development and lasting economic growth.
  • Develop unified and practical mechanisms and procedures in fighting corruption, and enable the IRA to implement it, while providing support to the monitoring roles of Afghan civil society institutions for good governance and responsive government.
  • Regularly evaluate aid effectiveness in terms of service delivery and monitoring roles of civil society organizations, as well as elected institutions/entities.

Expectation from SAARC Countries:

  • To effectively explore and leverage existing capacities and capabilities available within Afghan Civil Society institutions, as de facto potential, for social services’ delivery and implementation of the National Priority Programs (NPP).
  • To support System and institutions (particularly civil society and democratic institutions).
  • To Provide structural and continued support to monitoring, consulting, and leveraging the complementary roles of civil society and human rights defenders, and women’s rights activists on responsive, inclusive, and good governance.
  • To Provide structural To simultaneously support advocacy efforts of civil society institutions and human rights defenders in the protection of war victims and the promotion of mechanisms for addressing war crimes while building the relevant capacities of the IRA.
  • To Support and protect, both politically and technically, the democratic and civil society institutions, as the connecting and bridging entities between regional powers, and in particular between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

SAAPE Resolution on Nepal

Deeply disturbed at the virtual derailing of the Constitution-Making Process with admittedly grave consequences for the overall process of democratisation in Nepal, we, the participants at the 4th SAAPE General Assembly held on 18-19 December 2012, strongly urge the political leadership of Nepal to:

Urgently develop the broadly needed consensus on the formation of the new interim government so that the path is cleared for the creation of a new Constitution on an urgent basis;

The people of Nepal who laid down tremendous sacrifices to achieve complete democratization of the state and the society eminently deserve to have a Constitution that reflects their interests, aspirations and hopes, and be governed by a genuine constitutional order.

SAAPE Resolution on Sri Lanka

We, the representatives of SAAPE general assembly learned the alarming situation of human rights violations, challenges of the rule of law, violation of the rights of ethnic minorities, erosion of democratic values of Sri Lankan society, narrowing space for dissent and repression of media freedom, loss of people’s land due to land grabbing which lead to deteriorate the socio and economic situation of the people challenges to the life of the human right defenders, are concern about the situation of Sri Lanka.

At the same time, we learned that there is no progress being made on the life of the war affected communities in the north and the eastern provinces of the country though the whole world expected the dividends of peace will be reached those affected communities. The so called development projects have not changed the life condition of those affected people, women who are the heads of the families and the children’s life in particular. The most vulnerable communities need more attention and assistance for their livelihoods development, resettlement and security.

We believe that in order to demand the rights, people could organize peaceful, non- violent demonstrations which are acceptable in any democratic society.

We urge Sri Lankan authorities to respect the universal human rights procedures, follow the human rights agreements and provide democratic space for the citizens of Sri Lanka to raise the voices in peaceful manner. We condemn the violations of the rights of the minorities while oppressing their peaceful demonstrations, the right to commemorate their loved ones those who lost their lives during the war, provide more space for interactions among ethnic minorities and majority sinhalese community for reconciliation and long lasting peace in Sri Lankan society.

We expect GOSL will take all possible steps to implement the LLRC recommendations which would be a basis for the building up good will and respect the rights of minorities as well as socio, economic, cultural, political and civic rights of Sri Lankan people as a whole.