South Asia Centre for Peace (SACP): the rationale
South Asia, as a region comprises of the following member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Stricken with poverty, the region is home to 40 percent of the world’s poor according to the South Asia Development and Cooperation Report 2008. It is also a centre of international debates on numerous inter and intra-state conflicts. The existence of conflicts at various levels makes innocent people suffer. In 2007, according to a report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) there were 14 armed conflicts around the world, including the following three in South Asia: Afghanistan, India (Kashmir) and Sri Lanka (Tamil Eelam). Human Security Report of 2007 states that in the period between 2002 and 2006, battle deaths in South Asia increased by 36 percent, in particular due to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and the ongoing war against terrorism in Afghanistan. The international war against terrorism in Afghanistan has spilled over to the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Millions continue to suffer due to conflicts on the home soil or with an enemy in the region. Afghanistan continues to be the hotspot of human suffering due to conflicts which resulted in over 560,000 deaths and in forcing over two million people to take refuge outside their homeland. In the period from 1946 to 2005, battle related deaths in India were over 80,000 and in Sri Lanka well over 60,000. In addition, there are over 200,000 refugees only from Bhutan and Sri Lanka. As of 2005, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Asia with collectively over 1.5 million IDPs. Since 2005, figures of IDPs are on rise in the region, particularly in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The region has become the centre of debates on global terrorism however the menace of terrorism has been having implications for bilateral relations in South Asia, for example between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and India and Pakistan. Therefore, even to address the issue of terrorism, the region needs a regional approach. Even though SAARC countries have adopted the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and have set up the SAARC Terrorism Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) in Colombo, a lot more has to be done to address the causes of terrorism in South Asia.
Conflicts in the region have taken millions of lives and have forced tens and thousands to take refuge outside their homes. Conflicts have also been the main reason for developing and least developed nations of the region to spend more on defence. From 1998 to 2005, there was an increase of 38 percent in over all military budgets in South Asia. More money into defence has led to an arms race in the region and has been the cause of growing nuclearization in India and Pakistan. The rise in defence expenditures also means a neglect of investment in other crucial areas, such as health, education and infrastructural development, which is the case of South Asia in present times. It is in this context the idea of setting up the South Asia Centre for Peace (SACP) was conceived to become the regional voice of people and organizations to promote peace in the region. SACP has been launched to become a hub of peacebuilding organizations and individuals from South Asia so as to jointly work towards the endeavour of peace in the region. Introduction
South Asia Centre for Peace (SACP) is a non-government and not-for-profit organization based in Pakistan. While striving for peace in South Asia, SACP is working at the regional level through collaborations with likeminded individuals and organizations across the region. The organization aims to become not only a regional think-tank in the area of peace studies but also a centre on peace education and peace awareness through education, research and media campaigns. The key objectives of the centre are to:
1. build and work in collaboration with a network of peace organizations and individuals in South Asia;
2. develop an exclusive peace education curriculum for South Asia to eliminate all kinds of social evils such as stereotypes, prejudices, violence against women, religious extremism etc. Special emphasis will be made to develop first of its kind curriculum on rural peacebuilding;
3. spread the message of de-nuclearization, disarmament and non-violence by lobbying against growing nuclearization, arms race and violence in the region;
4. facilitate further study on the conflict issues by bringing together diverse viewpoints and encourage creative thinking to enhance the peace process faced with impasse. The aim is to put forward a set of recommendations for policymaking at bilateral level and regional level through SAARC.
5. foster inter-faith and inter-cultural harmony through dialogues on inter-faith harmony and cultural exchange programmes;
6. engage with journalists from South Asia by offering training workshops on “peace journalism” because by acquiring necessary skills journalists have a potential to contribute to peace in South Asia; and to
7. collaborate with extra-regional organizations and interested individuals to understand regional dynamics so as to contribute towards peacebuilding in South Asia.Mission
The mission of the SACP is to bring together organizations and individuals having a common cause of promoting peace in South Asia. Our mission is not only to end wars and violent conflicts in the region, both at intrastate and interstate levels, but also to address increasing poverty besides emerging human security threats such as water, food, health and environmental security vis-à-vis climate change, and terrorism which is as much a human security as a traditional security threat. Vision
To empower organizations and individuals in South Asia to promote peace in all the countries of the region through education, media and research programmes. For more information e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org