Regional Roundtable on Promoting People to People Interaction Through SAARC
Under the Interaction and Advocacy Programme of GPPAc South Asia, a Regional Roundtable on ‘Promoting People to People Interaction Through SAARC’ was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on July 14-16, 2010. It was organized by the Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) in close collaboration with the Global Partnership on Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, the Regional initiator for GPPAC South Asia. Prof. Amal Jayawardane, Executive Director of the RCSS, Mr. Nishchal N. Pandey, Director of CSAS, Mr. Darynell Rodriguez Torres, Programme Manager-Interaction and Advocacy at the GPPAC Secretariat in the Hague and erudite scholars and experts on SAARC issues from South Asia participated. Mr. Nishchal N. Pandey, Director of the CSAS, the local partner for the event, hosted a reception in honor of the delegates at the Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu which saw Ambassadors from SAARC countries represented in Kathmandu, the Director from the SAARC Secretariat, civil society leaders and journalists attending.
During the Inaugural Session of the meeting, the key-note speaker, a well known Nepali journalist and Editor of Nepali Times weekly Mr. Kunda Dixit shed light on the shortcomings of SAARC despite its 25-year existence and elaborated on militarized and overly security conscious governmental regulations in the region being a hindrance to more connectivity between countries and its people. Participants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as from Nepal highlighted the importance of promoting track II and track III approaches and initiatives in South Asia which would be a big step forward towards achieving a South Asian Economic Union as envisaged by the leaders of SAARC. Executive Director of RCSS Prof. Amal Jayawardane and Mr. Darynell Rodriguez Torres also spoke on the occasion.
On July 16, the participants visited the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and Pacific under the Office for Disarmament Affairs and acquired information on the activities of the Centre. Likewise, they visited the SAARC Secretariat and discussed the work of the Secretariat and the SAARC itself with Director of SAARC for Nepal, Mr. Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat. They also visited the Secretariat’s library and made a pledge to regularly send publications of their respective institutes and universities to the library which is commonly used by South Asian researchers, academics, and students.