The enlargement of SAARC
SAARC, like other regional and multilateral institutions, has struggled to enlarge its membership. This phenomenon should not be surprising to students of institutions. On the one hand, rationalist and public choice theoretical approaches to the studyof institutionswould suggest that distributional conﬂicts and political tensions are likely to arise during an enlargement process on the basis of the expected redistribution of enlargement gains and relative losses after expansion. At the same time, although governments may be expected to pursue self-interested preferences and goals, it is also possible to understand the association’s enlargement process from a more informal desire to expand common regional values and norms. So far, SAARC has expanded its membership once, but as we will see, there are continuing pressures from other countries to join this regional body. In this chapter I will attempt to strike a middle ground between the
formal and informal components of the enlargement of SAARC, largely by drawing attention to those international actors that have been eager to engage with SAARC. Using this approach, I will ﬁrst focus on the countries that enjoy observer status to the association. I will discuss the challenges faced by countries that have attempted to join SAARC, thus far unsuccessfully. I will also explore SAARC’s interactions with other multilateral institutions.