The SAARC Council of Ministers at its Twenty-fourth Session held in Islamabad on 2-3 January 2004 decided that an Inter-Governmental Expert Group (IGEG) should meet early to consider the following:
· Draft Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment;
· Establishment of a SAARC Arbitration Council; and
· Multilateral Tax Treaty with a limited scope with regard to Avoidance of Double Taxation
In accordance with the above mandate, the First Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group (IGEG) on Investment, Arbitration and Avoidance of Double Taxation was held in New Delhi on 22-23 March 2004. The Meeting formed two Sub-Groups, one on Investment and Arbitration and the other on Avoidance of Double Taxation.
The Sub-Group on Investment and Arbitration finalised the text of the SAARC Agreement for Establishment of SAARC Arbitration Council which was subsequently signed during the Thirteenth SAARC Summit held in Dhaka on 12-13 November 2005. The Agreement for Establishment of SAARC Arbitration Council entered into force on 2 July 2007.
The First Meeting of the Governing Board of SAARC Arbitration Council was held at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu on 7-8 January 2009.
The Thirty-sixth Session of Standing Committee (Colombo, 25-26 February 2009) considered the Report of the First Meeting of the Governing Board of the SAARC Arbitration Council in which the Board had finalised all administration matters including salary, allowances and terms and conditions of the Director General of the Council and approved the same.
The appointment of Syed Sultan Ahmed as the first Director General of SAARC Arbitration Council was approved by the Thirty-second Session of SAARC Council of Ministers (Thimphu, 27 April 2010).
At the Thirty-ninth Session of the Programming Committee (SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 15-16 December 2010) the Director-General presented an interim Institutional Cost Budget, along with interim Capital Cost Budget, to operationalise the Council for initial phase (December 2010 – May 2011) till the Second Meeting of the Governing Board could be held and its annual budget finalized.
Three Meetings of Governing Board of SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO) have been held so far the last of which was held in Islamabad, on 21-22 November 2012. The current Chairperson of Governing Board of SARCO is Dr. (Mrs.) Neeru Chadha, Joint Secretary (Legal & Treaties), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The Governing Board considered matters relating to establishment of Panel of Arbitrators, affiliation with national councils of arbitration and fees schedule for arbitration.