What is SCO?
- Shanghai corporation organization also called Shanghai pact
- Permanent intergovernmental international organization
- A Eurasian political, economic and military organisation aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
- created in 2001.
- The SCO Charter signed in 2002, and came into force in 2003.
- Official languages Russian and Chinese.
- Headquarters at Beijing China
- Prior to its creation in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
- Shanghai Five (1996) emerged due to border demarcation and demilitarization talks which the above mentioned four countries held with China to ensure their border stability.
- After the addition of Uzbekistan to the organisation in 2001, the Shanghai Five became SCO.
- India and Pakistan became members in 2017.
Dialogue partner is any country, or organization with which SCO or similar Organizations enjoy consultative relationship in areas of common interest and may participate actively in the SCO Conference. This status can further be divided into two:-
- Sectoral dialogue partner - have a say in only few areas such as IPR, double taxation issues, trading palm oil etc
- Full dialogue partner- have a say in all the commercial sectors with all the members of organization.
A country willing to join the SCO must be of Eurasian region, have diplomatic ties with all SCO member states also observer or dialogue partner status in the SCO. It must support active trade, economic and cultural relations with the SCO members, and must not be under UN sanctions. The latter provision is due to membership for Iran due to UN sanctions.
And must not be in a state of armed conflict with another country or countries.
- Sri Lanka
The country who is observer, there is no right to vote
Given in cases :
- When full membership to be granted later or When some NGOs or non-state entities awant to participate, they can do that through observer status (e.g. in the UN)
- Giving observer status to a country/entity means that it is recognized as genuine by the organization (for e.g. Palestine in the UN)
- In SCO, some countries may oppose entry of certain countries then that country may become a dialogue partner only ,approved by few of them and not all.
- They later gain observer status and then full membership once all members approve. For example Belarus applied for observer status in SCO, while Kazakhstan supported but Russia opposed. Still a dialogue partner.
- Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourhood among the member states.
- Promoting effective cooperation in -politics, trade & economy, research & technology and culture.
- Enhancing ties in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, etc.
- Maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
- Establishment of a sovereign and rational international political & economic order.
Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- Heads of State Council – supreme SCO body which decides its internal functioning and its interaction with other States & international organisations.
- Heads of Government Council – Approves the budget, considers and decides upon issues related to economic spheres.
- Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs – Considers issues related to day-to-day activities.
- Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) – Established to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
- SCO Secretariat – Based in Beijing provides informational, analytical & organisational support.
Countries meet annually decided by the council members at alternating venues. The locations are in alphabetical order of the member state's name in Russian. The Council of Foreign Ministers is supposed to hold a summit one month before the annual summit of Heads of State.
- In 2003, SCO member states signed a 20-year Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation for the establishment of a free trade zone within the territory under the SCO member states.
- In 2006, SCO’s agenda widened to include combatting international drug trafficking as a source of financing global for this it signed an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
- In 2008, SCO actively participated in bringing back stability in Afghanistan.
Strengths of SCO
- This covers 40%of the global population, nearly 20% of the global GDP
- Counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Challenges for SCO
- Combating terrorism, extremism and separatism; drug and weapons trafficking, illegal immigration, etc.
- Despite being geographically close, the decisions are influenced by the rich diversity in member’s history, national interests and form of government.
Challenges of SCO Membership for India
- Pakistan’s inclusion in SCO poses potential difficulties for India.
- India has to balance its relations with both China and Russia as they are co-founders of SCO and dominant powers.
- India has to engage in a delicate balancing act with the West- as SCO has traditionally adopted an anti-Western posture.
Importance for India
Indian has bilateral agreements with central Asian countries, but its time to expand the trade, India can Invest in Hydel projects and Mineral industry, because it has Huge potential potential for both.
Compliment the efforts of Host Heart of Asia conference, finding comprehensive solution for Afghan Problem.
India’s recent development of Chabhar port in Iran to get Fast and Convenient access to isolated and resource rich Central Asia(Will boost connectivity )
India is energy hungry country, we are heavily dependent on the West Asian countries (More than 70% imports from West Asia) and we need to diversify into new markets to secure the energy security on India.
TAPI Gas Pipeline(Natural gas rich Caspian sea area) and IP
One World Biggest uranium reserves found in Central Asia, India is aiming to develop, because we lack in Uranium reserves.
SCO 2020 had virtual summit this year due to COVID 19, hosted by Russia. India's interest is in strong resolution towards connectivity, through International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port, Ashgabat Agreements
India Pushed for "economic capacity building" and "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" to further self-reliance that could be a force multiplier, with the combination of economic multilateralism and national capacity building.
SCO chairmanship for 2021will be presided by Tajikistan