First Regional Forum of Ministers of South Asian States

In cooperation with the Government of Pakistan and with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO’s MOST Programme organized the First Regional Forum for Ministers of Social Development, in Bhurban (Pakistan), from 26 to 27 May 2006.

Drawing inspiration from the experiences of comparable Forums in other regions of the world, representatives of UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector organized a two-day meeting.

The Chairperson and Secretary-General of the ECOWAS Forum, Djibril Tangara, (former) Mali Minister for Social Development, also attended the meeting (see also SHSviews n° 13 [PDF, 451 KB]). Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all took part in this first session of the Forum, and Bhutan, Fiji, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Thailand conveyed their interest and their intention of joining in the Forum at a later date.

Participants were invited to discuss “Public Accountability Mechanisms in the Improvement of Social Sector Service Delivery in Asia”; a joint Declaration [PDF, 11 KB] was adopted, setting an agenda of policies and agreeing that the space for dialogue should become permanent with the aim of improving discussions and exchange to foster the effectiveness of social policies.

In the Declaration – to which all Asian States may adhere – the Ministers present at the Forum agreed to promote policies that integrate all aspects of human development; to fight against poverty (through those policies); and to strive for greater solidarity through the strengthening of regional and interregional networks.

It was decided to have an annual, rotating Chair, entrusted to Pakistan for 2006-2007, with “Public accountability” as the focus for the year.

The Chairperson of the Forum expressed his interest in making the initiative even more international in scope, by proposing that in cooperation with UNESCO, the first Interregional Forum of Ministers for Social Development should be organized in parallel.

See also

Focal Point of the Forum Secretariat
Brigadier Muhammad Saleem Wains, Consultant, National Reconstruction Bureau, Pakistan

UNESCO Focal Point
Marina Faetanini, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Office in New Dehli
E-mail: m.faetanini(at)unesco.org

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