The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the formal adoption of SAARC by the Heads of State or Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on December 8, 1985. SAARC provides a platform for the peoples of South Asia to cooperate and work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding. It aims to accelerate the process of economic and social development. Afghanistan joined in 2007 as the eighth Member of SAARC.
SAARC has 5 regional Centres and 4 Specialized Bodies operating from different Member States of SAARC, acting as implementation arms of SAARC. There are nine observers namely Australia, China, EU, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar and USA. There is a moratorium on the admission of new Observers to SAARC at present. Observers are invited to participate in the inaugural and closing session of SAARC Summits.
The SAARC Division of the Ministry is responsible for coordinating the implementation of SAARC activities in Maldives and formulating national policies related to SAARC. The most important responsibility of the SAARC Division is to coordinate and liaise with various government agencies regarding preparations and follow-ups of SAARC Meetings particularly Council of Ministers Meetings including its formal sessions, Standing Committee Meetings including its special sessions, Programming Committee meetings and Sectoral Meetings.
SAARC Division also liaises with the President’s Office to prepare for Summit meetings, including logistical arrangements and preparation of briefing and research papers and acts as an intermediate between the SAARC Secretariat and line Ministries to coordinate Maldives participation in SAARC activities held in SAARC Member States.
Furthermore, the Division coordinate SAARC meetings and major SAARC events held in Maldives and follow-up on the progress in the implementation of decisions of various SAARC Summits and high-level meetings.