The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC),13 a key subregional body, focuses on economic, technological, social and cultural development. Although SAARC does not have a concrete migration mechanism in its framework, its member States adopted the Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking of Women and Children for Prostitution in January 2002 at the Kathmandu SAARC Summit.
The Convention came into force in 2006 after it was ratified by all seven member States. Afghanistan subsequently signed the Convention in 2007. Primarily a criminal justice instrument, the Convention aims to 1) ensure that its State parties criminalize and punish trafficking offences, and 2) promote subregional law enforcement cooperation to achieve this (ADB and IOM 2009).
Similar to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), SAARC has raised the level of participation among the network of exclusive stakeholders in the subregion, including, among others, civil society, members of the academic community, retired government officials, policy institutes and NGOs, including human rights organizations, in dealing with migration issues. For instance, the South Asia Migration Commission organizes an international conference annually in order to contribute to institutionalizing a regional approach to migration management in the subregion.
13 It was established in 1985 with seven member States—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It was extended to eight members States in 2006 with the addition of Afghanistan.