BIMSTEC Charter enters into force nearly three decades after its establishment

Published On: May 21, 2024 08:01 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 21: The Charter of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has come into force from Monday. Nepal, one of the seven member states, has implemented the BIMSTEC Charter after three decades of the establishment of this sub-regional body, following approval by the House of Representatives on April 2 as part of the internal process.

BIMSTEC Secretary General Indramani Pandey, who is currently in Nepal for his introductory visit, announced that all necessary conditions for the implementation of the Charter have been fulfilled, bringing the Charter into effect from Monday.

“I, Secretary General of BIMSTEC, acting in my capacity as depository, hereby inform that, on 21 April, 2024, the conditions for the entry into force of the BIMSTEC Charter were met. Accordingly, BIMSTEC Charter shall enter into force on 20 May, 2024 in accordance with its Article 25 (4),” Secretary General Pandey said in a statement.

The Article 25 (4) reads that the Charter shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the deposit of the seventh instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of BIMSTEC. The implementation also paves the way for external partners, observers, and new members to join this regional bloc.

Although Nepal approved the BIMSTEC Charter on April 2, written confirmation reached the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, only on April 21, according to officials.

Nepal decided to submit the Charter to the federal parliament for approval in accordance with internal procedures, following a cabinet meeting held on September 15, 2023. Article 279(1) of the Constitution stipulates that the ratification of treaties to which Nepal is a party shall be in accordance with federal laws. Section 4 of Nepal's Treaty Act, 2027, stipulates that the Government of Nepal, the Council of Ministers, should submit the Charter to the federal parliament for approval.

The other member states had already approved the Charter through their internal processes.

The fourth summit held in Kathmandu on August 30-31, 2018, decided to prepare and implement the BIMSTEC Charter as soon as possible. At the Foreign Minister level meeting held in 2017, the member states agreed to promote mutual legal cooperation in criminal matters along with the organization's Charter, establish a Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and enhance mutual cooperation between diplomatic academies or training institutions among the member states.

Accordingly, at the fifth summit held in Sri Lanka on March 30, 2022, the heads of member states signed the BIMSTEC Charter. On behalf of Nepal, then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba gave a virtual address and signed the Charter from Kathmandu.

The BIMSTEC Charter stipulates that after being signed by the member countries, it must be approved according to internal procedures of their respective countries and submitted to the Secretary General of the BIMSTEC.

When BIMSTEC was established on June 6, 1997, the regional organization included only Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand as its members. At that time, it was called BIST-EC. The ministerial meeting held in Thailand on December 22 of the same year added Myanmar as a member and changed the name to BIMSTEC.

Nepal became a member in 2004 through a ministerial meeting. Bhutan also joined BIMSTEC in the same year. The organization now includes seven member countries, five from South Asia and two from Southeast Asia, representing about 22 percent of the world's population and a combined GDP of USD 4.5 trillion and combined external trade of USD 1.95 trillion.

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