Sustainable and Democratic Regional Governance in South Asia - Summary of the Chair

SI Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment Meeting, 15-16 January 2007, New Delhi

1. The South Asian Region plays a more and more important role in the global society. With India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - the 2nd, 7th and 8th most populous states in the world - belonging to the region.

2. To stabilise South Asian Region, progress in the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is useful, including efforts to contribute to a secure development of Afghanistan, a SAARC Member State.

3. India is the most populous democratic state in the world. Societies in all states in the region should cooperate in the ongoing process of democratisation in South Asia. The process of democratisation in Nepal is a great step forwards and hope for the development of the region in the global society.

4. The living together of different religions should not be an obstacle to democracy.

5. The states of the region need sustainable development, that includes high equitable economic growth - higher than in the developed OECD States -, just distribution of income and land as protection of the environment and the non-renewable resources.

6. The richer states of the world have to contribute to the eradication of poverty in the region on the basis of the Millennium Development Goals.

7. The richer states are responsible for a fair global trade system, especially in the agricultural sector. This responsibility includes reducing subsidies and lifting export subsidies in the richer states.

8. The states in the region should chart their distributive policies, compatible with sustainable development - to avoid regional and sectorial disparities - between agriculture and industry - and in regard to land use, as well as disparities between men and woman.

9. The multinational and national companies investing in the region have to pay adequate taxes and contributions. These payments are needed to better infrastructure, education and health.

The economic development in the region is linked to its political situation and its democratisation. The SI has been and will be addressing the membership of India in the UN Security Council, a peacefully resolved Kashmir conflict, fair and free elections in Pakistan with the participation of Benazir Bhutto, PPP, and all other democratic forces.

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