Child Soldiers and the Law
SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements
for the Promotion of Child welfare in South Asia
[also in PDF]
5 January 2002
THE MEMBER STATES OF THE SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL
COOPERATION (SAARC), PARTIES TO THE PRESENT CONVENTION
NOTING that a quarter of the world's children live in South Asia and
many of them require assistance and protection to secure and fully enjoy
their rights, and to develop to their full potential and lead a
responsible life in family and society;
BEARING IN MIND that parents or legal guardians, as the case may be,
have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of
RECOGNIZING, therefore, that the family, as the fundamental unit of
society and also as the ideal nurturing environment for the growth and
well-being of children, should be afforded the necessary protection and
assistance so that it can fully assume and fulfill responsibility for
its children and community;
RECALLING the common proclamation of their nations in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights that childhood is entitled to special care
REAFFIRMING their adherence to the Declaration of the World Summit for
Children and their commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the
RECOGNIZING the efforts of SAARC towards building a regional consensus
on priorities, strategies and approaches to meet the changing needs of
children, as embodied in Rawalpindi Resolution on Children of South Asia
1996, and noting the significant progress already made by the Member
States in the field of child survival and welfare;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT, the declaration of the years 2001-2010 as the
"SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child";
BEARING IN MIND that the development of the full potential of the South
Asian child is a critical concomitant to the region's collective march
towards solidarity, justice, peace and human progress;
ACKNOWLEDGING that regional solidarity and cooperation through sharing
of experience, expertise, information and resources are eminently useful
in galvanizing the efforts of the South Asian nations to fulfill and
protect the rights of children;
REALIZING further that, together, the Member States of SAARC can move
towards a comprehensive South Asian vision for the well-being of their
HEREBY AGREE as follows:
PART I - DEFINITIONS, PURPOSE AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES
ARTICLE I. DEFINITIONS
For the purposes of this Convention;
'Rights of the Child' shall mean the rights of children embodied in the
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
'Child' shall mean a national of any Member State of the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), below the age of eighteen
years unless, under the national law, majority is attained earlier.
ARTICLE II. PURPOSES AND OBJECTIVES
The purposes and objectives of the present Convention shall be to:
1. Unite the States Parties in their determination of redeeming the
promises made by them to the South Asian Child at the World Summit for
Children and at various other national and international conferences and
successive SAARC Summits;
2. Work together with commitment and diligence, to facilitate and help
in the development and protection of the full potential of the South
Asian child, with understanding of the rights, duties and
responsibilities as well as that of others;
3. Set up appropriate regional arrangements to assist the Member States
in facilitating, fulfilling and protecting the rights of the Child,
taking into account the changing needs of the child.
ARTICLE III. GUIDING PRINCIPLES
For the establishment of regional arrangements, States Parties shall be
guided by the following principles:
1. States Parties to this Convention shall consider survival,
protection, development and participatory rights of the child as a vital
a) Accelerating the process of their peoples' realization of human
rights and fundamental freedoms, and
b) Achieving economic and social development in South Asia.
2. States Parties shall reaffirm the right of the child to enjoy all
rights and freedoms guaranteed by the national laws and regionally and
internationally binding instruments.
3. States Parties consider the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
as a comprehensive international instrument concerning the rights and
well being of the child and shall, therefore, reiterate their commitment
to implement it.
4. States Parties shall uphold 'the best interests of the child' as a
principle of paramount importance and shall adhere to the said principle
in all actions concerning children.
5. States Parties, while recognising that the primary responsibility of
looking after the well-being of the child rests with the parents and
family, shall uphold the principle that the State has the right and
authority to ensure the protection of the best interests of the child.
6. States Parties shall consider this Convention as a guiding force for
all national laws and bilateral or multilateral agreements that are
entered into in the field of child welfare.
7. States Parties shall always consider gender justice and equality as
key aspirations for children, the realization of which, collectively by
the governments, would enhance the progress of South Asia.
PART II - REGIONAL PRIORITIES AND ARRANGEMENTS
ARTICLE IV. REGIONAL
1. Without prejudice to the indivisibility of the rights enshrined in
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international and
national instruments and law, States Parties shall place special
emphasis on the important areas for child development and well being as
regional priorities that can benefit immensely from bilateral and
2. Recognising basic services such as education, health care, with
special attention to the prevention of diseases and malnutrition, as the
cornerstone of child survival and development, States Parties shall
pursue a policy of development and a National Programme of Action that
facilitate the development of the child. The policy shall focus on
accelerating the progressive universalization of the child's access to
the basic services and conditions.
3. States Parties shall ensure that appropriate legal and administrative
mechanisms and social safety nets and defenses are always in place to:
a) Ensure that their national laws protect the child from any form of
discrimination, abuse, neglect, exploitation, torture or degrading
treatment, trafficking and violence.
b) Discourage entry of children into hazardous and harmful labour and
ensure implementation of the Ninth SAARC Summit decision to eliminate
the evil of child labour from the SAARC region. In doing so, States
Parties shall adopt a multi-pronged strategy including the provision of
opportunities at the primary level and supportive social safety nets for
families that tend to provide child labourers.
c) Administer juvenile justice in a manner consistent with the promotion
of the child's sense of dignity and worth, and with the primary
objective of promoting the child's reintegration in the family and
society. In doing so, States Parties shall provide special care and
treatment to children in a country other than the country of domicile
and expectant women and mothers who are detained along with infants or
very young children, and shall promote, to the best possible extent,
alternative measures to institutional correction, keeping in mind the
best interest of the child.
d) States Parties shall make civil registration of births, marriages and
deaths, in an official registry, compulsory in order to facilitate the
effective enforcement of national laws, including the minimum age for
employment and marriage.
4.. Recognising the
evolving capacities of the child, States Parties shall encourage and
support administrative and judicial institutions to arrange for suitable
mechanisms at appropriate levels and in accordance with local customs
and traditions, to provide opportunities and access for the child to:
a) Seek and receive information.
b) Express views, directly or through a representative, and receive due
weight and consideration for them, in accordance with age and maturity,
in all matters affecting them.
c) Participate fully and without hindrance or discrimination in the
school, family and community life.
5. States Parties shall encourage the mass media to disseminate
information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child.
They shall also endeavour to give wide publicity to the Convention as
well as other regional and international instruments having a bearing on
ARTICLE V. REGIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
To ensure consistent focus on and pursuance of the regional priorities
delineated above, States Parties shall promote solidarity, co-operation
and collective action between and among SAARC Member States in the arena
of child rights and development. States Parties view such cooperation as
mutually reinforcing and capable of enhancing the quality and impact of
their national efforts to create the enabling conditions and environment
for full realization of child rights and attainment of the highest
possible standard of child well being. In pursuance hereof, States
a) provide opportunities for appropriate bilateral and multilateral
sharing of information, experience and expertise.
b) facilitate human resource development through planned annual schedule
of SAARC Advanced Training Programmes on Child Rights and Development.
c) make special arrangements for speedy completion and disposal, on
priority basis, of any judicial or administrative inquiry or proceeding
involving a child who is a national of another SAARC Member State, and
for the transfer of children who are nationals of SAARC countries,
accused of infringing the penal code, back to their country of legal
residence for trial and treatment, provided that the alleged offence has
not imperiled the national security of the country where it has been
d) strengthen the relevant SAARC Bodies dealing with issues of child
welfare to formulate and implement regional strategies and measures for
prevention of inter-country abuse and exploitation of the child,
including the trafficking of children for sexual, economic and other
e) set up a South Asian nutrition initiative aimed at enhancing
knowledge and promoting greater awareness, practice and attainment of
higher levels of nutrition, particularly for children and women, through
mass education, adequate training and ensuring food security and
equitable distribution of food at the family level.
PART III - RELATIONSHIPS AND COOPERATION
ARTICLE VI. BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL COOPERATION
States Parties shall encourage and support bilateral and multilateral
agreements and cooperation that would have positive impact on regional
and national efforts in facilitating, fulfilling and protecting the
rights and well being of the child.
ARTICLE VII. RELATIONS WITH NATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS
1. The States Parties to the Convention shall adopt, in accordance with
their respective Constitutions, the legislative and other measures
necessary to ensure the implementation of the Convention.
2. Nothing in this Convention shall affect any provisions which are more
conducive to the realization of the rights of the South Asian child and
which may be contained in national laws or international agreements that
are in force.
ARTICLE VIII. RELATIONS WITH NON-GOVERNMENTAL BODIES
State Parties, while implementing the provisions of the Convention, may
encourage and support the participation of non-Governmental bodies
including community-based organisations.
ARTICLE IX. COOPERATION WITH UN AGENCIES AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL
Recognising their nature and scope, States Parties may encourage
cooperation with UN and other international agencies.
ARTICLE X. POLITICAL COMMITMENT
States Parties shall provide the necessary political support to ensure
that appropriate measures are taken, to help fulfill the provisions of
this Convention. The measures, inter-alia, could include legislative
reform and promulgation of appropriate new policies and legislation,
trained manpower, adequately equipped institutions and adequate
allocation of human and financial resources.
ARTICLE XI. SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION
The Convention shall be open for signature by the Member States of SAARC
at the Eleventh SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, and thereafter, at the SAARC
Secretariat in Kathmandu. It shall be subject to ratification. The
Instruments of Ratification shall be deposited with the SAARC Secretary
ARTICLE XII. ENTRY INTO FORCE
The Convention shall enter into force on the fifteenth day following the
date of deposit of the Seventh Instrument of Ratification with the
Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional
ARTICLE XIII. DEPOSITORY
The Secretary General shall be the Depository of this Convention and
shall notify the Member States of signatures to this Convention and all
deposits of instruments of ratification. The Secretary General shall
transmit certified copies of such instruments to each Member State. The
Secretary General shall also inform Member States of the date on which
this Convention will have entered into force in accordance with Article
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, being duly authorize thereto by
their respective Governments, have signed this Convention.
DONE at Kathmandu on this Fifth Day of January Two Thousand and Two, in
nine originals, in the English Language, all texts being equally
M. MORSHED KHAN JIGMI Y. THINLEY
Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs
People's Republic of Bangladesh Kingdom of Bhutan
JASWANT SINGH FATHULLA JAMEEL
Minister of External Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs
Republic of India Republic of Maldives
RAM SHARAN MAHAT ABDUL SATTAR
Minister of Finance and Leader Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Delegation of Nepal Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Kingdom of Nepal
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka