Shanghai Cooperation Organisation | A counter-coalition of Eurasian powers

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental organisation.
  • The SCO grew out of the Shanghai Five grouping — of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — which was set up in 1996 to resolve boundary disputes between China and each of the four other members.
  • It admitted Uzbekistan in 2001, re-christened itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and broadened its agenda to include political, economic and security cooperation. 
  • In June 2017 in Astana (the capital city of Kazakhstan), India and Pakistan became full members of the Organization.
  • The admission of India and Pakistan has expanded the geographical, demographic and economic profile of the SCO, which now has about half the world’s population and a quarter of its GDP.
  • The SCO has four observer states Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.
  • The SCO has six dialogue partners: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.
  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO which meets once a year.
  • The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
  • The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years. 
  • The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization sometimes also referred as ‘Eastern NATO’.

The SCO’s main goals are as follows:

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO – It coordinates cooperation for security and stability, through intelligence-sharing on criminal and terrorist activities. 
  • In 2005, the Astana declaration called for SCO countries to work on a “joint SCO response to situations that threaten peace, security and stability in the region”.

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