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SAARC: From Statism to Economism? (Note)

Published in
Volume: XXIX
Issue: 1
Pages: 71 - 84

SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was founded in 1985 to promote a rather unique model of regionalism. On the one hand, SAARC sought to foster a dialogue between countries grappling with serious political differences resulting from 200 years of colonialism. On the other hand, the members wished to exclude from the jurisdiction of the Association these same political questions. The objective of the member countries was rather to develop links in the fields of culture, education and the economy in order to reduce these political differences, but without directly confronting them. Unfortunately, this approach has not led to closer political or economic ties between Member States, leading to some pessimism about the future of the organization. The 1990s, however, radically changed the trajectory of SAARC. The end of the Cold War and the redefinition of state-society relations within each member state seem to have created a structural need for an association such as SAARC. Moreover, in keeping with the contemporary global trend to attribute greater primacy to economics than to politics, the political differences among Association members seem to have gradually given way to a more active and effective SAARC. However, this new optimism for SAARC, based solely on the enthusiasm of economic actors, is also premature. In other words,

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