Adopted during the 2nd General Assembly of SAAPE (2-3 July 2006)

The Kathmandu Declaration was adopted during the second General Assembly of SAAPE, that took place on 2-3 July 2006 on the theme, “Struggles for Grassroots Democracy: South Asian, Civil Society Perspective.” 

WE, THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SOUTH ASIA ALLIANCE FOR POVERTY ERADICATION (SAAPE), meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, July 2-3, 2006, felt the energy, excitement and anticipation of the people of Nepal, at this historic and precarious point in their history – Nepal’s recent Jana Aandolan II (people’s movement) for Lokatantra (democracy). 

Over the two days of meetings, we, the members of SAAPE and observers – a widely representative group of civil society organisations and movements from the eight countries of South Asia, and from Europe – learned from each other, and from the experiences of the Nepal Jana Aandolan, and pledged their solidarity to establish a real and lasting democracy in Nepal. 

We are committed to the Eradication of Poverty in the Region, and reaffirm the Manesar Declaration adopted in 2000, and the Kathmandu Declaration adopted in 2002. We are inspired by the principles that the courageous people of Nepal have articulated as the foundation principles for a New Nepal. We have also increased our understanding of the difficulties and possibilities in poverty eradication, as a result of sharing the work and conditions in our countries. 

SAAPE is becoming a platform for a large number of like-minded organisations, movements and persons in the region, who have come together to eradicate poverty and to strengthen grassroots democracy. SAAPE is a socio-political force to work for change and to work with different groups of people in attempts to unite to achieve different goals that are important in the overall struggle to eradicate poverty and protect grassroots democracy. 

 With this understanding, we declare that we will eradicate poverty in South Asia – 

Realising that poverty and hunger in the region is not natural, but something created and perpetuated by the Global powers of plunder and exploitation, working in collaboration with the elitist regimes in our own countries; we commit ourselves to fight these forces until we take control over our lives, our natural resources, and the right to plan and decide on the use of such resources. We commit ourselves to facilitate the mobilisation of the millions of poor and their organisations to complete the process of the de-legitimisation of the Global financial powers such as the International Financial Institutes (IFIs), and international capital in their self-proclaimed right to set agendas for poverty eradication and development. 

Realising that “Growth” alone is not the remedy for “Poverty,” neither in rural nor urban areas, neither in the agriculture nor in the industrial sector, and knowing that logically those claim “responsible” for poverty (e.g., WB, IMF and WTO) cannot tell us how to solve the problems of Poverty – their “solutions” so far have only led to the aggravation of poverty all across the region (hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides in India, pauperisation of the peasantry, promotion of the corporate farming model, loss of jobs and labour opportunities); and therefore, we need to struggle with farmers and labourers for establishing and strengthening grassroots democracy, and against labour policies that are exploitative. 

Realising that a large number of children are engaged in labour work in the region – markets exploit them in the pretext of poverty; we declare that SAAPE will fight against child labour and fight for their right to education. 

We declare that we will work towards realising food sovereignty and food security for the people of the region, and struggle to create a supportive policy framework – promoting Eco-Agriculture, opposing GM food, and promoting peasant alliances for ensuring food sovereignty. 

Realising that the forces that/who benefit from the poor remaining poor, are strong, powerful and well-connected, we commit ourselves to a more powerful struggle against the root causes of poverty in the South Asian region. We declare we will not rest peacefully, even if intermediate victories have been won, but will continue to struggle together, as a Regional Alliance, solving problems as we go, until Poverty is eradicated from all of the South Asian countries. 

Anti-poverty work is often done by people who work on behalf of others, and people living in poverty themselves are often involved as “targets” or “beneficiaries.” We know that there is great strength and ability in the men, women and children living in conditions of hunger and poverty, and we declare that we are committed to all inclusive and participative, including poor men and women, excluded castes and indigenous communities, integrally and strategically in the decision-making and work of SAAPE. 

Realising that Peace in the region still eludes us 

– civil strife in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan; growing state repression in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; and continuing repression in Bhutan -we declare that the members of SAAPE will support each other in the struggles for peace. The problems are many – Bhutanese refugees feel unable to return to their homes in Bhutan, state repression in India in Gujarat and other states by religious fundamentalist political groups, and the use of military power by the South Asian governments to suppress movements and struggles of indigenous citizens for their political and economic rights. The people want peace and democracy in the region; national and international governments in many cases do not. SAAPE will work with the people in reinstating peace and democracy. 

Realising that the continuing Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir is a serious obstacle to both peace and grassroots democracy in the region, and realising that the enormous defence budgets of both countries deprive the poor of their countries of needed health, education, food security, etc., we declare that SAAPE will do everything possible to mobilise its members, along with others in the region working for peace and justice for the Kashmiri people, to pressure the two governments to resolve the conflict in accordance with the wishes and needs of the Kashmiri people. 

Realising that poor governance, the absence of free and fair elections, and violence of the rule of law undermines genuine democracy in the region, we declare that SAAPE will work through its members by advocacy and public awareness, to bring about true democracy and democratic processes in the countries of the region. Monitoring and reforming the education systems will form part of this public awareness – SAAPE will work on education policies, and ensure qualitative and progressive education so that democracy can be sustainable. 

Realising that in the region, where patriarchal customs and practices continue, we declare that SAAPE will make sure that women have equal participation as members of decision-making bodies and that the poverty of women will be a constant concern and focus. Women must form at least 50 per cent of all bodies that work within SAAPE. Women bring real strength to struggles for social justice and human rights, they are tenacious, fearless, and in their lives, used to solving problems. They have experienced suppression, and given a chance to participate, are creative, courageous and effective partners in the struggles against poverty and injustices in the region. 

Realising that in the region, fundamental religious sentiments and revivalism mingled with politics, have caused deprivation, poverty, destitution, agony and atrocities, and having seen the impact and effect of the rise of earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir), response is quick and effective, if a situation is dealt with urgency under the disguise of 'disaster'. For example, the response to the great disaster Tsunami showed how the world would/could respond to poverty and hunger if they are seen and declared as such emergencies. 

This Declaration of the members of SAAPE, made in solidarity, is adopted by the 130 members from eight countries of South Asia along with our European partners assembled in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 3r day of July 2006.