Kathmandu, Aug 31: The fourth summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) concluded on Friday. On the second day of the summit, an 18-point declaration paper was signed today.
The declaration is expected to enhance the effectiveness of BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region.
KP Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, said, "The fruits of regional cooperation can reach the people when we fully implement the decisions and understandings we make. Translating the promises into action will be a key challenge ahead. The visibility of BIMSTEC will lie in progress it makes & in its capacity to deliver."
What are the 18-point declaration?
- Recall the principles enshrined in the 1997 Bangkok Declaration and reemphasize that cooperation within BIMSTEC will be based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit.
- Agree to intensify our efforts to realize the objectives and purposes of BIMSTEC as embodied in the 1997 Bangkok Declaration, and reiterate our pledge to work collectively towards making BIMSTEC a stronger, more effective and result-oriented organization for achieving a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal Region.
- Resolve to achieve, leveraging on BIMSTEC's unique position as a bridge linking South and Southeast Asia, an enhanced level of economic and social development in the region, and remain fully committed to consolidate and deepen cooperation among Member States towards transforming our organization into an effective platform to promote peace, prosperity and sustainability.
- Deplore terrorist attacks in all parts of the world including in BIMSTEC countries and strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever and by whomsoever committed and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. Affirm that the fight against terrorism should target not only terrorists, terror organizations and networks but also identify and hold accountable States and non-State entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues. Reiterate our strong commitment to combat terrorism and call upon all countries to devise a comprehensive approach in this regard which should include preventing financing of terrorists and terrorist actions from territories under their control, blocking recruitment and cross-border movement of terrorists, countering radicalization, countering misuse of internet for purposes of terrorism and dismantling terrorist safe havens.
- Repose our faith unequivocally in the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and strive to strengthen the multilateral system by reforming its rules, institutions and instruments to make it relevant to contemporary global challenges and agree to work together to present a collective voice to safeguard our collective interests for a fair, just, rule-based, equitable and transparent world order.
- Decide to task the BIMSTEC Secretariat to prepare a preliminary draft of the charter for the organization, building on the 1997 Bangkok Declaration, defining a long-term vision and priorities for cooperation, clearly delineating roles and responsibilities of different layers of institutional structure and decision-making processes, for consideration by the BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee (BPWC) and other higher bodies with a view to adopting it by the Fifth Summit; and agree to task the BPWC to develop the Rules of Procedure (RoP) for the BIMSTEC Mechanisms.
- Decide to establish a BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee to deal with administrative and financial matters of the Secretariat and the BIMSTEC Centers and Entities, as well as to prepare schedule of meetings, prioritize and rationalize the organization's activities.
- Direct the relevant Ministries/national agencies of our respective governments to explore the possibility of establishing a BIMSTEC Development Fund (BDF), at an appropriate time, with voluntary contributions from the Member States, which will be utilized for research and planning of BIMSTEC and financing of projects, programmes and other activities of BIMSTEC Centers and Entities as agreed upon by the Member States.
- Agree to enhance the institutional capacity of the BIMSTEC Secretariat, including through financial and human resources, in order to enable it to coordinate, monitor and facilitate implementation of BIMSTEC activities and programmes; and initiate project proposals as agreed by the Member States as well as fulfil any other responsibility entrusted to it in an effective and efficient manner and agree to raise the numbers of Directors to seven, one from each Member State, in a staggered manner.
- Acknowledge the importance of enhancing the visibility and stature of BIMSTEC in international fora by, inter alia, forging common positions, as appropriate, on issues of common interest and seeking group recognition in various multilateral organizations, institutions and processes.
- Emphasize the need to accelerate progress in the core areas of cooperation and to review, restructure and rationalize the existing areas of BIMSTEC cooperation and streamline the operational modalities for activities, implementation of programmes and projects under BIMSTEC for bringing out tangible results. Welcome Thailand's concept paper on the Reprioritization of BIMSTEC Pillars of Cooperation proposing to streamline to five pillars which will be subjected to further discussion in the BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee.
- Agree to take up on priority basis the legal documents and instruments that are pending for internal approval process for finalization and ratification.
- Commend the role of Lead Countries for the progress made in the respective sectors, as annexed to this declaration, and encourage them to accelerate their efforts to make further progress.
- Express our appreciation for former Secretary-General Mr. Sumith Nakandala's valuable contribution in advancing the work of BIMSTEC during his tenure and welcome the appointment of Mr. M. Shahidul Islam of Bangladesh as the Secretary General of BIMSTEC.
- Convey deep appreciation to Nepal for the able stewardship of BIMSTEC from March 2014 and welcome Sri Lanka as the new Chair of BIMSTEC.
- Reiterate the commitment to timely holding of Summit and other meetings of the BIMSTEC mechanisms to intensify the process of regional cooperation.
- Agree to make our directives, commitments and statements of our positions on sectoral review expressed at the Annexure as part of this Declaration.
- Express our sincere appreciation to the Government of Nepal for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.