South Asian Ministers adopt declaration to empower people, civil society

New Delhi, Mar 6 :Manmohan Singh The Social Development Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries on Thursday adopted the New Delhi declaration that underlines the relevance of empowering the people and civil society of the region through transparency, accountability and right to information leading to better governance and social development.

The Second Forum of the ministers from India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the meeting that was co-organized with UNESCO.

During its first meeting, the forum adopted the Bhurban Declaration in May 2006 in Pakistan.

The participating countries emphasized the need to establish the institutional framework of this forum in order to implement the plan of action outlined at Bhurban and New Delhi.

The forum also encouraged the member countries to assist Afghanistan in addressing its special needs in education, technical vocational training and development of new technology, the protection of disabled persons and support of projects for vulnerable people, the protection of children at risk and the control of the use of narcotics and drug trafficking.

The member countries also resolved to strengthen cooperation among themselves in the field of social science research through exchange of best practices, exchange of social scientists, pooling and exchange of information on research outcomes and horizontal cooperation projects networking social science research institutions.

The countries also agreed to promote and facilitate through exchange of best practices, early adoption in accordance with their national priorities of appropriate legislation conferring right to information for all citizens from the governments and public authorities, to eliminate arbitrariness and corrupt practices and improve governance at the regional, national and local level.

They agreed for a mid-term review meeting to be attended by all countries for follow-up of the decisions taken at the Bhurban and New Delhi meetings.

The third meeting of the forum will be held in Nepal.

Indian Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, Deputy Minister of Labour Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled of Afghanistan Wasil Noor Mohmand, adviser to Bangladesh Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Rasheda K. Chowdry, Nepalese Minister of Education Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, Maldives Deputy Minister of Planning and National Development Racheeda Ali, Nepalese Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Pampha Bhusal, Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and Sri Lankan Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda attended the meeting. (ANI)

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