Second Regional Forum of Ministers of Social Development from South Asia

The Ministers of Social Development of South Asian countries, members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – SAARC (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) participated in the 2nd Regional Forum, organized within the framework of UNESCO’s programme for the Management of Social Transformations (MOST), at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi (India), on 5 and 6 March 2008.

The regional conference, co-organized by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, with the support of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), was inaugurated with an address from H.E. Mr. Arjun Singh, Minister of Human Resource Development (MHRD), followed by a statement from UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Mr. Pierre Sané.

For two days, participants discussed the social sciences research policy linkage and in particular the contribution that social sciences can provide to the policy-making process, within the framework of the theme selected for the Second Forum, Transparency, Right to information and Social development. On the first day, following the presentation of the Indian experience, where the law on the Right to Information (RTI 2005) recognizes the right of every citizen to access information and the obligation it represents for the Indian Government, the participants, including the members of Parliaments, social sciences scholars, representatives of public institutions, UN Agencies and civil society were invited to share their views during an opening session, chaired by Mrs. Aruna Roy, well-known Indian political and social activist.

Initiated in 2006 in Bhurban (Pakistan), the Forum of Ministers of Social Development from South Asia is the 3rd such Regional Forum to be established under the initiative of UNESCO’s MOST programme. As is the case with preceding Forums established for Latin America, Africa and last year the Arab region, it aims at reinforcing linkages between the research and policy-making communities by encouraging regional cooperation and exchange of experiences and best practices on national policies.

Similar to the Bhurban Declaration in which the participating Ministers committed themselves towards making this Forum a means for permanent dialogue, a Declaration has been adopted by the participants in the New Delhi conference in order to formalize their common involvement in the consolidation of the Forum in the South Asian region, define cooperation perspectives and decide on the next Chair of the Third Forum of Ministers of Social Development.

For more information, please contact:
Marina Faetanini, m.faetanini(at)unesco.org, Tel.: + (91) 11 267 13000

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