Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific
Flag of The Colombo Plan
Flag of the Colombo Plan
Current (blue) and former (yellow) members of the Colombo Plan.
Current (blue) and former (yellow) members of the Colombo Plan.
HeadquartersSri Lanka Colombo, Sri Lanka
Official languagesEnglish
TypeEconomic forum
Member countries
• Secretary-General
Philippines Dr. Benjamin P. Reyes
• Establishmenta
28 November 1950
• Commencement
1 July 1951
  1. As the "Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development in South and South-East Asia".

The Colombo Plan is a regional intergovernmental organization that began operations on 1 July 1951. The organization was conceived at an international conference, The Commonwealth Conference on Foreign Affairs held in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in January 1950, and was attended by the finance ministers of Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ceylon, Pakistan and New Zealand, and the prime ministers of Ceylon and India. Membership has expanded significantly over the years to the current 28 governments.

The primary focus of its work is on the development of human resources in the south and southeast regions of Asia. Aid to education 1950 to 1983 came to $72 billion, of which $41 billion came from the United States.[1][2]

Host country of the Colombo Plan

The Colombo Plan enjoys a host country agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka in the form of a memorandum of understanding with privileges and immunities that are afforded by the Government of Sri Lanka.

In a speech made in Colombo on 5 July 2010, the 4th Secretary-General Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia said: "The gearing up of the level of our activities is made possible through the voluntary contributions of member countries and international agencies such as OPEC fund. Last year our programming was over US$10 million and we expect a more than US$12 million programming this year with almost another US$2 million in terms of cost-sharing from our member countries. With funding from the United States Government and 13 other member countries, the Colombo Plan is now the biggest stakeholder in drug demand reduction in the Asia-Pacific, with a special initiative in Afghanistan."[3]


The Colombo Plan has four programmes:[4]

Past Programmes

The Plan now

Over the years, while adhering to the concept of human resource development and South-South Cooperation in addressing issues of economic and social development, the programme content of the Colombo Plan has been changing to take account of the needs of member countries in a fast changing world economic environment. In the early years, the training programmes were more of a long-term nature, while recent programmes have been focusing on providing advanced skills and experience sharing aimed at arriving at the best practices in different fields of economic and social activities as a means of good policy making and governance. The current programmes of the Colombo Plan are in the areas of public policy formulation in an environment of globalisation and market economy, private sector development as a prime mover for growth, drug use and dependence prevention and treatment in member countries and addressing gender issues. The Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education located in Manila also provides skill development opportunities for technicians in middle level.

In her 2010 speech, Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia states: "The current Colombo Plan looks very different since our restructuring and revitalisation in 1995. As we continue to build upon our past successes, the new Colombo Plan uses cooperation among developing member countries or South-south Cooperation between the developed member countries and developing member countries, to underpin all our activities. Since our restructuring in 1995, we have now provided 16,082 scholarships to 23 member countries for both long-term and short-term training programmes."[3]

Past secretaries-general

The Colombo Plan underwent an organisational transformation and renewal in 1995, and the Colombo Plan Bureau became the Colombo Plan Secretariat to be headed by the Secretary-General, instead of a Director. The first Secretary-General was Dr. Kim Hak-su from Korea (January 1995 – March 1999) who was succeeded by Dr. Sarat Chandran, India (April 1999 – June 2003), Mr. Kittipan Kanjanapitkul from Thailand (June 2003 – August 2007), Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia from Malaysia (August 2007 – August 2011), the first Asian woman to hold this position, Mr. Adam Maniku from Maldives (15 August 2011 – November 2013), Mr. Kinley Dorji from Bhutan (May 2014 – April 2018) and, Ambassador Phan Kieu Thu (May 2018 - December 2021).The incumbent Secretary-General, Dr. Benjamin P. Reyes from The Philippines assumed duties on 1 May 2022 as the organisation's 8th Secretary-General.

Notable Colombo Plan scholars

Early criticism

The Plan has been criticised on various grounds. Some Asians see in it only the hand of British imperialism, especially as it is not aimed at developing national self-sufficiency. It offers an almost exclusively economic solution for problems which are also political and social. Dangerous issues such as landlordism and the organisation of labour, which invite Communist exploitation, are barely touched on, doubtless because it seemed politically inexpedient to raise such questions.[6]

Present members

The Colombo Plan currently has 28 members.

Member economy Date of accession
 Afghanistan 1963
 Australia 1951
 Bangladesh 1972
 Bhutan 1962
 Brunei 2008
 Chile 2021
 Fiji 1972
 India 1951
 Indonesia 1953
 Iran 1966
 Japan 1954
 South Korea 1962
 Laos 1951
 Malaysia 1957
 Maldives 1963
 Mongolia 2004
 Myanmar 1952
   Nepal 1952
 New Zealand 1951
 Pakistan 1951
 Papua New Guinea 1973
 Philippines 1954
 Saudi Arabia 2012[7]
 Singapore 1966
 Sri Lanka 1951
 Thailand 1954
 United States 1951
 Vietnam 2004

Past members

There have been four past members of the Colombo Plan including two founding members in 1950, Canada and the United Kingdom. South Vietnam and Cambodia joined together in 1951. On 2 Jul 1976 South Vietnam was succeeded by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which withdrew in 1978. Vietnam was a provisional member from 5 Nov 2001 to 18 Nov 2003 until it was accepted as a full member in 2004.

Member economy Date of accession Date of deposition
 Canada 1950 1992
 United Kingdom 1950 1991
 Cambodia 1951 1975
 South Vietnam 1951 1975
 Greece 1957 1979
 Tanzania 1962 1964
 Italy 1962 1964

See also


  1. ^ Lowe, 2010
  2. ^ Auletta, 2000.
  3. ^ a b Welcome speech by Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Colombo, 5 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Programmes".
  5. ^ "Despite friction, links forged under original Colombo plan ensure goodwill is there says participant and Indonesian Vice President". Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  6. ^ Blackton, Charles S., The Colombo Plan, Far Eastern Survey, 7 February 1951.
  7. ^ "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the Colombo Plan – the Colombo Plan Secretariat". Archived from the original on 23 August 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2012.

Further reading