The ECO was established in 1985 as a trilateral organization of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey to promote multi dimensional regional cooperation with a view to creating conditions for sustained socioeconomic growth in the Member States. Its aims and objectives as its modes of operation were identical to those of its forerunner, the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which remained in existence from 1964 to 1979. Subsequently, the organization was restructured and revived under the present name ECO.
The Treaty of Izmir signed in 1977 as the legal framework for the RCD and later adopted as the basic Charter of ECO was modified to provide a proper legal basis to ECO's transition from RCD at the Ministerial Meeting held in Islamabad in June 1990. Following the amendment in the Treaty of Izmir ECO was fully launched in early 1991.
The break-up of the former Soviet Union led to the independence of Republics of Central Asia and Caucasus. In their bid to open up to the outside world and as a manifestation of their urge to revive their historic affinities with the peoples of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, six of these Republics; namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan along with Afghanistan sought the membership of ECO and were admitted into the organization. The participation of these new Members in the activities of the Organization commenced after their formal accession to the Treaty of Izmir at an Extraordinary Meeting of ECO Council of Ministers held in Islamabad on 28th May, 1992.
With its expansion in November 1992, from a 3 to 10-Membersí Organization, ECO gained a new dimension and new role. Accordingly, there was a consensus at all levels of ECO Meetings that in order to enhance the effectiveness of ECO, fundamental changes were required in the structure and functional methodology of the organization. The fifth meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Ashgabat in January 1995 established a panel of eminent and competent persons to consider the issue of the reappraisal of the Treaty of Izmir and restructuring of ECO.
The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) after comprehensive deliberations finalized several recommendations and documents for submission to the ECO Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers approved the Group's recommendations in the form of ten documents on ECO's new organizational set up and functional methodology in Ashgabat on 11th May 1996.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on reorganization and restructuring of ECO was signed by the Foreign Ministers of ECO Countries at Ashgabat during the Summit Meeting on 14 May 1996. In pursuance of the above mentioned MOU, the Council of Ministers decided to hold an Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers in the city of Izmir for signing the revised Treaty of Izmir and Agreement on the Legal Status of the Economic Organization (ECO).
The Extraordinary Meeting of the ECO Council of Ministers was held in Izmir, Turkey on 14 September, 1996, to finalize ECO's basic documents including its fundamental Charter, the revised Treaty of Izmir. The Council of Ministers also approved the Implementation Plan on Reorganization and Restructuring of ECO and witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Izmir and the Agreement on the Legal Status of ECO by the Ministers/Authorized Representatives of ECO Member States.
In the wake of the above, the following ten documents are being implemented to give affect to the new organizational structure of the ECO, beginning in 1997.
1. Treaty of Izmir (amended)
2. Organizational Structure of ECO
3. Organizational Chart of ECO Secretariat
4. Agreement on Legal Status of the ECO, National Representatives and International Staff
5. Agreement between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and ECO relating to the Rights, Privileges and Immunities of the ECO Secretariat
6. Rules of Procedures of ECO
7. Functional Methodology of ECO
8. Economic Cooperation Strategy for the ECO Region
9. Staff Regulations of ECO Secretariat
10. Financial Regulations of ECO Secretariat
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