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SOUTH ASIA PARTNERSHIP INTERNATIONAL
STRATEGIC PLAN 2006 - 2010
Introduction

For all the richness of their culture and endeavor, the people of South Asia face many obstacles. South Asia is still the greatest well of human poverty on earth with conflict and imperfect governance marking the political landscape of the region. Social exclusion and economic disparities impact the lives of hundreds of millions. The energy and strong desire of the people to realize their rights and opportunities for change have the potential to address these problems. Growing numbers of people are realizing the importance of solving the inequities and injustices as the region, led by India, emerges as an increasingly important player on the world stage.

The civil society in South Asia is providing leadership to confront the obstacles to human well being through its size, experience and dynamism. It is making a varying but important contribution across the region to deal with the development needs and the growing demands for democracy and peace. Civil society organizations have been increasingly taking on responsibilities both to supplement the role of the state to assure rights and human development and to be a counterweight to the state and a strong economic force in the face of the denial of people's rights.

South Asia Partnership International, with its national SAP members, has evolved from a support and capacity building organization solving local poverty challenges to an international agency advocating for regional good governance, peace and sustainable livelihoods. Its assets include its regional structure, its breadth of experience, its capacity to join with many other civil society organizations, and its northern links and participation in this southern-led network.

With nearly 25 years of experience behind it and its thrust into new spaces for civil society activism, SAP International is addressing the challenges of maintaining its internal strength, engaging with other progressive organizations, learning to advocate effectively and attracting sufficient resources for its ambitious and pioneering mission.

Vision

The people of South Asia are free from poverty and deprivation, living with dignity and enjoying peace and social justice

Mission

To facilitate civil society working together to achieve the rights and prosperity of people in a peaceful South Asia.

Goal

A vibrant civil society presence advocating and acting in cooperation across South Asia to achieve concrete advancements in human development and human security.

Role

As an international organization based in South Asia, SAP International and its members have identified its role as one of Regional Advocacy by the civil society for peace and social justice in South Asia. This role means the promotion and facilitation of a variety of coordinated actions to give an articulate and clear voice to people of the region for political, economic and social changes to fulfil their rights.

Themes

SAP International originally adopted the themes of Governance, Peace and Livelihood for its programming, and it retains these themes for its long term work. Under its People's Summit Program, SAP International and its civil society partners across the region have developed an additional list of themes for cooperative action: Peace and militarization, Democracy and good governance, Trafficking and human security, Disasters, and Social security. All of these topics are relevant to SAP International's continued efforts. However, to provide a sharper focus to its work for the 2006-09 period, SAP International will concentrate primarily on two themes:
  • Democracy and Governance
  • Peace and Human Security
For the first theme, SAP International will strive for democratic and rights based practices of equality for decision-making at all levels of society with particular emphasis on holding governments accountable to fulfil their responsibilities to their citizens toward a fair, just and open society. Equally, SAP International will encourage a non-violent resolution of disputes and the construction of peaceful conditions for all corners of society, between and within states.

In pursuing its mission through these themes, SAP International will take a rights-based approach with a special emphasis on gender equality.

Strategy

To advance these themes, SAP International will employ different strategies working through a number of varied programs and projects to build the capacities of the civil society organizations and networks; to form alliances among CSOs nationally, regionally and internationally; to generate and share knowledge among CSOs on key human development and security issues of the region; and ultimately, to mount specific civil society campaigns to achieve critical public awareness of the issues and advocate particular policy changes and government actions.

Program

Within this strategic framework, SAP International will continue with some of its programming lines and introduce new ones as required. SAP- I has the responsibility to develop Regional Program Frameworks for the system. SAP-I, in cooperation with the national SAP organizations and many other civil society bodies, has built a successful series of People's Summits, held annually and generally in conjunction with SAARC meetings. This experience is evolving from one-off events into an ongoing program of regional advocacy on a broad front of people-centred issues. In a sense, this activity is the spine of SAP International's programming.

Emerging from its previous activities on governance, the SAP-I family of organizations has championed local governance, women's participation in governance and actions to combat violence against women in politics. With its focus on peace and security, SAP-I took the first regional initiative in South Asia on the issue of illegal small arms and have since formed the South Asian Small Arms Network, open to all national and regional organizations interested in addressing this menace.

SAP International has been seen for the past 15 years a capacity-building structure, facilitating the strengthening of entities from community-based organizations to other regional networks in learning, skill development, and cooperative action. In recent years SAP-I has added emphasized on the value of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to help CSOs with the effectiveness and reach of their programs. This feature is particularly important for linking CSOs across the region in cooperative advocacy initiatives.

These programming lines will serve SAP International as it explores, designs and delivers new, more focused actions. SAP-I will give priority to the two themes in identifying future initiatives and look for opportunities as well under the common, CSO-defined agenda of its series of People's Summits.

To address the issues identified by SAP International in the areas of governance, peace and livelihoods, platforms at the regional and national levels will be created. Regional forums will be established among like-minded organizations for collaborative advocacy campaigning. Regional cooperative initiatives will be promoted to lobby with SAARC and its member governments. Capacity building of CSOs will be enhanced at various levels to address the issues. Networking among CSOs and institutions working on the issues of governance, peace and livelihoods will be established. The media will be used as a key tool for mass education, sensitization and campaigning. Gender equality, human rights, and environment concerns will be cross cutting issues to be integrated into all the initiatives.

Campaigns

The ultimate expression of the strategy is the mounting of regional civil society campaigns to achieve changes in political and public life. In a variety of ways, all of SAP International's initiatives are intended to lead to substantive change through advocacy campaigns.

The character of the campaigns will focus on specific issues, have targeted outcomes, engage the commitment and energy of many civil society organizations, have national and regional dimensions, reach out to partners and allies in other countries, aim to enrich and advance public discourse on the issues and carry clear messages to policy makers.

Arising out of past and current programming, SAP International has identified a list of possible campaigns to undertake during this period. They include:
  • Social security for all citizens of South Asia
  • Reduction of the national defence budgets by 10% per year
  • Reservation of a minimum 33% of all elected seats for women at all levels of government in all countries
  • Eliminating the trans-boundary illegal arms trade
  • Stopping violence against women in politics
SAP International will determine the priority of these campaigns according to progress on its programming and formation of effective alliances among committed civil society organizations. SAP International will work towards creating awareness of the masses and sensitize the media, policy makers and decision makers. It will lobby with the national governments through SAP Nationals and SAARC through SAP International to change the discriminatory policies or the policies that are hindering the change process in the respective countries or at the regional level.

Boundary Partners

The boundary partners of SAP International are SAP Nationals, the Civil Society of South Asia, South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Regional Institutions and Agencies.

Outcome Challenge

SAP Nationals create a platform for the civil society to come together at the national level to raise peoples voices to promote peace and social justice. They are capable of facilitating different coordinated actions to clearly articulate the voice of the people in the region for political, economic and social changes to fulfill their rights. They can contribute to widespread implementation of improved livelihood policies and practices. They can develop a mechanism for ensuring the participation of the poor and marginalized, especially women in good governance.

The Civil Society of South Asia has a vibrant presence in advocating issues of human development and human security. It can build an environment of trust and cooperation among its members to create synergized actions for influencing policies at the regional level.

SAARC promotes conducive policies and mechanisms for human development and human security. It is intended to promote a congenial environment for regional cooperation to enhance peace and security in the region.

Regional Institutions and Agencies advocate the raising of the regional concerns of peace and social justice. They are able to promote people to people cooperation to address the regional concerns. They can support the capacity building of the civil society to address the issues related to peace and human security in South Asia.

Expect to See

SAP Nationals participating in meetings of the civil society at the national level focused on the issues of peace and social justice, establishing/ promoting a structure for cooperation in the partnership that would ensure the raising of the voices of marginalized communities at the national level and acquiring skills for people - centered advocacy and networking.

The Civil Society of South Asia participating in the programs organized by SAP partners and exploring opportunities to build the capacity for human development and human security.

SAARC inviting SAP partners in the SAARC meetings and discourses and participating in the meetings organized by civil society organizations.

Civil society institutions and agencies participating in the meeting of SAP Partners and Acquiring skills for addressing regional issues of peace and human security.

Structure

SAP International's core structure is its national South Asia Partnership members in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Canada and its program partners in India. Its programming is built on the national-international relationships with the SAP organizations as the base. The nature of its mission and strategy, however, means that it is vital to work in alliance with many other civil society organizations that share its strategic aims and to build a regional civil society platform for advocacy and action. It is therefore an important tenet of SAP International's work, and that of its national members, to reach out to and enlist a wide spectrum of other organizations and networks. SAP International believes that inter-organizational cooperation, while not always easy, is necessary to achieve significant social and political change for people's rights. As it builds alliances for particular campaigns, SAP International and its national members will be flexible in the arrangements required to achieve its goals. SAP International's broad strategy will be determined by its members through the Annual Meeting and will be guided by its Board of Directors. Regional Programmatic frameworks will be developed by SAP-I. The overall program of the organization will be coordinated by SAP International's Program Committee, constituted by SAP Executive Directors and individual initiatives will be designed and implemented by SAP organizations in cooperation with alliance partners.

Resources

SAP International has operated in the past on two pillars: the organizational strength and commitment from its SAP member organizations and other allied groups, and financial resources generated for specific regional programs and projects. The asset of SAP-I, its regional position and structure has served to attract international support but also acts as a liability because many in the international donor community do include regional actions in their frame of reference. SAP-I will work to overcome this limitation by aiming to convince other organizations in the North and South of the valuable place of regional initiatives, particularly for advocacy on critical issues not confined to nation states.

In future, SAP International will support the programming and campaigns in a variety of ways, including:
  • Direct requests to international donors and partners
  • Support contributed by partners working in alliance on specific initiatives
  • National donor and partner contributions through national SAP requests to support actions in particular countries
The major challenge to overcome for the organizational sustainability is the development of effective strategies for collective ownership for strategic actions to establish a Forum for Advocacy for the organization. SAP I needs to adopt an effective mechanism that reflect grass roots sensitivity in the regional programs. Strategies should also be adopted for minimizing donor dependency and maximizing local initiatives for sustaining regional advocacy initiatives. Therefore, a challenging task in front of SAP I is to develop appropriate plans, policies and strategies to reduce dependency on external funding. Improving sensitivity among donors and funding agencies towards support for regional issue based programs, organizations and networks is another challenges in front of SAP I. It needs to devote a lot of effort to revitalize its credible image in the development community along with donor institutions as an organization working to establish a vibrant civil society for advocacy and action in cooperation across South Asia to achieve concrete advancements in human development and human security. It has to develop an alternative fund raising mechanism within the organization to diversify the funding sources of the organization.

Additional Features

Civil Society in India: In the absence of a full member organization in India, SAP International will continue to work with selected Indian organizations and networks as strategic partners on programs and campaigns. In time, these partners will be encouraged to form a coalition to act on behalf of SAP International in India. Organizational arrangements for this presence will evolve according to the needs and interests of SAP International and its partners in India.

Other countries in South Asia: It has always been SAP International's wish to engage people from the other South Asian countries: Bhutan, Maldives and more recently, Afghanistan. SAP International will pursue this interest by working with civil society organizations as they emerge and build relationships with SAP International. Afghanistan will be the priority for engagement in this strategic period.

Partners and Allies in Industrialized Countries: Beyond its initial base in SAP Canada, as an original member organization, SAP International will explore relationships with other civil societies in "Northern" countries, primarily to engage them in advocacy work on South Asian issues. The issues that SAP International and its regional partners are addressing usually have an important policy dimension in the industrialized countries that can be taken up by allies in those countries. Civil society organizations in solidarity can also bring their experiences to southern partners to assist the analysis of the issues and strategies to address them. SAP International will, in addition and where appropriate, seek support from Northern allies for its programming and campaigns.

Conclusion

The major tasks in the SAP countries are positioning SAP organizations more strategically for policy advocacy, sustainable poverty eradication strategies and effective programmatic interventions; strengthening the democratic institutions and local governance with effective political participation of women and the marginalized sections for inclusive governance for addressing the people's needs; building solidarity among CSOs to make the voice of the poor and marginalized heard; making the SAP system transparent, accountable, responsive and responsible to the people; and mobilizing support to strengthen peace initiatives within and between the nations.

Organizationally, the major challenge for SAP International is to become a cohesive and knowledge based resource for the South Asian region. SAP International can advance its vision through a sustained, collective and coordinated effort.

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