The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation consisting of 8 members: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Founded in 1996, the SCO’s stated 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.
The SCO summits take place on an annual basis. Presently, its official languages are Russian and Chinese.
The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organisation’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation’s annual budget.
In addition to HSC and HGC meetings, there is also a mechanism of meetings at the level of heads of parliament; secretaries of Security Councils; ministers of foreign affairs, defence, emergency relief, economy, transport, culture, education, and healthcare; heads of law enforcement agencies and supreme and arbitration courts; and prosecutors general. The Council of National Coordinators of SCO Member States (CNC) acts as the SCO coordination mechanism.
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. Rashid Alimov (Tajikistan) and Yevgeny Sysoyev (Russia) have held these positions, respectively, since 1 January 2016.
- The SCO comprises six member states, namely the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Republic of India, and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
- The SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Republic of Mongolia;
- The SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
India and the SCO
India became an observer state in the SCO from the 2005 SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
India signed the memorandum of obligations on 24 June 2016 at Tashkent, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as full members. The acceptance process took months. India became a full member of the SCO along with Pakistan at the 2017 meeting at Astana.
By becoming a full member of the SCO, India hopes to strengthen its position in Central Asia and Asia in general. It hopes to cement more influence and assume a more proactive role on a stage dominated by China and Russia.
I will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan for two days on 8-9 June for the Summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation…