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In 2002 during the SAARC decade of the rights of the child, the SAARC
countries adopted the convention on promotion of child welfare in South Asia.
The convention defines a child as any person who has not completed 18 years
of age who is a national of the region, unless under national law majority is
attained earlier. The purpose of the convention is to solidify the commitments
the South Asian countries have made as the world summit and to other
international bodies by encouraging mutual cooperation and assistance. The
aim is to protect the rights of the child while realising the full potential of each
child and their responsibilities and duties. This can be done by setting up
regional arrangements to assist member states.
The convention states that countries should recognise the rights of a child as
laid out in the UNCRC and uphold the rights of the family as primary
caregivers, and the best interests of the child. To achieve their goals states
regional priorities should be recognising the need for essential services such as
education and health both preventive and curative, provide appropriate legal
and administrative safety nets such as national laws that protect the child from
abuse, exploitation, neglect, violence, discrimination, trafficking, and child
labour. There is need to set up appropriate and child-friendly systems for
juvenile justice, registration of births, child participation, etc. States should
encourage local media to cater to the needs of children by providing them with
information that is socially and culturally beneficial to the development of the
The convention outlines the following regional mechanisms that promote
collaboration and support of the member nations aiming to create an
environment that fully realises the rights of the child and provides for the well
being of the child.
Create opportunities for sharing of information, experiences and skills
Facilitate human resource development through SAARC training programmes
Facilitate a speedy dismissal and transfer of children in conflict with law or in
need of care and protection who are nationals of other SAARC countries to
their country of legal residence for rehabilitation and reintegration
Fortify the relevant SAARC bodies dealing with child issues so as to ensure
proper implementation of regional strategies and measures of child protection.
Establish a nutrition programme that aims at promoting knowledge and
attaining higher levels of nutrition in children and women through awareness
campaigns, education, training, food security and food distribution systems.

The convention encourages states to adopt these standards in accordance with

their own constitution, laws and other measures. It outlines the need for
coordination with other international bodies such as the UN and UN agencies
as well as local NGOs to achieve the goals of the convention.