I just finished reading the excellent book which our two colleagues Said N. Al Habsy and Kishor Uprety have recently published (“Sustaining Peace and Development. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, International, Institutional and Legal perspectives”. The University Press Ltd, 2010, 145 pages).
All of us know that, over the past few years, sustainable development has emerged as the latest development catchphrase. Economists, academics, government officials, and governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations working on developmental, environmental and other issues, have all embraced it as the new paradigm of development. The co-authors too, both lawyers by profession, embracing the concept of sustainable development, especially its all-encompassing nature, have paid it a tribute.
The book is about the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an international organization formed to facilitate cooperation in the region, a region where countries are brought together by geography, bound by history, but divided by a combination of a number of development issues. The book depicts, in one single volume, the SAARC’s evolutionary history, along with contemporary relevant decisions made by its members, in order to meet its avowed objectives like (i) promotion of the welfare of the people; (ii) acceleration of economic growth, social progress, and cultural development; (iii)strengthening of collective self-reliance; (iv) contribution to mutual trust and understanding; and (v) collaboration and mutual cooperation in the economic, social, cultural, and technical fronts.
While the review of the evolutionary processes shows the difficulties encountered by the countries in materializing many decisions, the book actually focuses on the legal aspects. It clarifies, by discussing the different legal instruments issued by the comity of members, the nature and patterns of collaboration amongst them, and vying for implementing a regional integration strategy to deal with a variety of issues of common interests including, among other, the problems of poverty, food security, environment, and trade.
Indeed, trade integration is a chapter worth noting, in this region, which happens to be the least integrated one. In that attempt, the book, in detail, depicts a system that started with the formation of a preferential regime and gradually morphed into a free-trade regime, alongside the WTO framework that existed already.
Related to trade, regional cooperation in infrastructure and energy, too, remains a hugely untapped potential in South Asia, and is covered by the book, albeit in a succinct manner. The region’s rich hydroelectric and energy resources, all of which sit near a border with India, a country whose thirst for energy is unbounded, thus become an interesting and well deserved topic.
Certainly, not everything is perfect. The process of evolution has a lot of flaws; and the book does provide ample criticism of the SAARC process, especially on the issue of non-implementation of many of its conventions and decisions, and the dismal performance of many of its actions. It also flags that this regional body has little to show in terms of matching with its foundational objectives and in terms of reaching its benefits to the masses in the region.
Nonetheless, overall, the co-authors have done a good job of introducing a regional topic, with unique legal lens, and thus, the book is a must for lawyers working on the issues of development related to South Asia.
Mr. Adhikary is Associate Professor, Nepal Law Campus Tribhuvan University
"Nepal: Design Options for the New Constitution" launched Subhash Chandra Nemwang, the Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly (CA) launched the book "Nepal: Design Options for the New Constitution" amidst an important gathering in Kathmandu yesterday.
Edited by constitutional expert, Dr. Bipin Adhikari, the book is based on the resources pulled together at the international conference on dynamics of constitution making in Nepal in post-conflict scenario (Jan 15-17, 2010).
Chairman of CA Constitutional Committee, Nilamber Acharya opined on the occassion that the book is going to be very helpful to understand what many international experts think about the draft concept papersa and constitutional formulations of the Assembly. Two international experts Dr Jyoti Singhera and Dr Marcus Brand also louded the efforts of Nepal Constitution Foundation, Tribhuvan University Faculty of Law and Supreme Court Bar Association to bring out these important international inputs for the constitutional making process.
The book comprises of papers of twenty-five international experts including Professor Cheryl Saunders, Professor Wiktor Osiatynski Professor Theo Li-ann, Professor Rohan Edrisinha, Professor Wang Zhenmin, and Yash Pal Ghai, key note speeches of President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, CA Chairman Nemwang, Minister Dr Minendra Rijal and Farewell speech of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.