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SCO- Shangai Cooperation Organisation: A New Force on the World Stage in 2022?

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Rise of SCO

The Shanghai Five (1996) Now transformed into SCO emerged from a series of boundary demarcation and demilitarisation talks between China and the four former Soviet republics to ensure border stability after the breakup of the USSR in the 1990s. After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Five in 2001, the organisation was renamed the SCO.

The success and significance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization may be seen in the fact that Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, and Myanmar are all prospective members. On September 15 and 16, 2022, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conducted its 22nd annual summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Belarus is expected to become the newest permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization when the Annual SCO meet takes place in India in 2023.

The SCO covers

  • In terms of geographic scope and population, it is the world’s largest regional organisation.
  • 40% of the global population.
  • More than 30% of the Global GDP.
  • 22% of the world’s land mass.

SCO’s Growing Significance

China’s economic power and potential to bring investments and infrastructure to countries that see the West as going down are the main reasons for the growing interest in the region. Central Asia is becoming more important in international politics because Russian and Chinese strategic interests are becoming more similar. This has led to a rise in SCO’s security and geopolitical dimensions.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, People’s Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Shanghai Five mechanism preceded it.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s top decision making body is the Heads of State Council (HSC). It meets yearly, makes decisions, and rules on all significant organisational concerns. The official languages of the SCO are -Russian and Chinese.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretariat is headquartered in Beijing, and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is headquartered in Tashkent.

The SCO’s primary goals

  • Enhancing neighbourliness and mutual trust among member nations.
  • Increasing their successful collaboration in politics, commerce, the economy, research, technology, and culture, as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, and other fields.
  • Joint efforts to maintain and ensure the region’s peace, security, and stability
  • Moving towards establishing a democratic, fair, and rational new international political and economic order.

SCO History

  • The official working languages of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are Chinese and Russian.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization consists of nine members. Yes, now the full-time members have become nine after the conversion of Iran’s Status to Full-time Member from Oberserver Status in the 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was held recently by video conferencing mode in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • The Shangai Cooperation Organisation was established on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai, China by the heads of the following nations: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. 
  • These nations, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five group, which was formed on April 26, 1996, by the Treaty of Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions
  • During the annual summit in Shanghai, In 2001, the five-member nations admitted Uzbekistan into the Shanghai Five mechanism and transformed it into the Shanghai Six. 
  • Moving forward, on June 15, 2001, the Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was signed, and in June 2002, Shangai Cooperation Organisation Member States signed the Shangai Cooperation Organisation Charter, which declared the organization’s purposes, principles, structures, and forms of operation and established it in international law. 
  • In July 2005, at the Astana Summit, India, Iran, and Pakistan were given Observer status. 
  • At Ufa, Russia in July 2015, the Shangai Cooperation Organisation decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members. 
  • India and Pakistan signed the memorandum of obligations (MOB) in June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hence initiating the formal process of joining as full members. 
  • 9 June 2017, at the memorable summit in Astana. India and Pakistan officially joined as full-fledged members.

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Iran is the Ninth full time Member of SCO

Iran– had observer status, and it applied for full membership of Shangai Cooperation Organisation on 24 March 2008. After the UN sanctions on Iran were lifted, In January 2016 Chinese premier Xi Jinping declared support for Iran’s full membership in SCO. Yes Now the full time member of SCO have bacame Nine after the Conversion of Iran Status to Full time Member from Oberserver Status, in the 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which was held recently by video Conferencing mode in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

SCO Exercise Peace Mission 2021

  • The 6th Edition of SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission 2021 was hosted by Russia at Orenburg Region of South West Russia (20th Sep 2021).
  • The aim of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation Exercise Peaceful Mission is to build a close relations between Member States and to enhance abilities of their military leaders to command a multinational military contingents.
  • Indian participated with a contingent comprising of an all arms combined force of 200 personnel from Indian Army and Indian Air force.

Structure of Shangai Cooperation Organisation

It has two Permanent Bodies which are:

  • Shangai Cooperation Organisation Secretariat in Beijing
  • Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent.

The Secretariat

  • The Secretariat of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation is the primary executive body of the organization.
  • It serves to implement organizational decisions and decrees, documents such as declarations and agendas, it also functions as a document depository for the organization, the Secretariat also arranges specific activities within the SCO framework, and promotes and disseminates information about the Shangai Cooperation Organisation.
  • Secretariat is located in Beijing
  • Each Member State has a Permanent Representative to the Shangai Cooperation Organisation.

Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO RATS)

  • The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation which functions to promote cooperation of member states against the spread of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.

SCO Modus Operandi

  • The Chairmanship of Shangai Cooperation is acquired by rotation for a period of one year by the Member States.
  • The SCO Secretary-General and the Executive Director of Shangai Cooperation Organisation-RATS are appointed for a term of 3 years.
  • The Council of Heads of States is the apex decision-making body within the Shanghai Cooperation. This council meets at the annual SCO summits, which are held every year in one of the member states’ capital cities.
  • The Council of Heads of Governments is the second-highest council in the organization. It also holds annual summits, wherein members discuss issues of multilateral cooperation. The council also approves the organization’s budget.
  • The Council of Foreign Ministers of Shangai Cooperation holds regular meetups, where the current international scenario and the SCO’s relationship with other international organizations are discussed.
  • The Council of National Coordinators works to coordinate the cooperation of member states within the framework of the Shangai Cooperation Charter.

SCO Observer States

  1. Afghanistan – awarded the observer status of Shangai cooperation at the 2012 SCO summit held in Beijing, China on 6 June 2012.
  2. Belarus – awarded the status of Dialogue Partner in 2009, Summit held in Yekaterinburg, and was granted the observer status of Shangai cooperation in 2015. 
  3. Mongolia – It became the first country to receive observer status of Shangai cooperation, at the 2004 Tashkent Summit.

SCO Dialogue Partners 

The position of Dialogue Partner was established in 2008 under Article 14 of the SCO Charter of 7 June 2002. As of 2021 the dialogue partners of SCO are:

  1. Armenia. 
  2. Azerbaijan. 
  3. Cambodia. 
  4. Nepal was granted dialogue partner status in the Shangai cooperation at the 2015 summit, Ufa. Russia. 
  5. Sri Lanka was granted dialogue partner status at the Shangai cooperation at the 2009 summit, Yekaterinburg. 
  6. Turkey a member of NATO, was granted dialogue partner status at the Shangai cooperation at the 2012 summit, Beijing.

SCO relations with other international organisations

OrganisationYear of Commencement of Relationship
the United Nations in 2004 (where it is an observer in the General Assembly),
Commonwealth of Independent States in 2005,
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2005,
the Collective Security Treaty Organization in 2007,
the Economic Cooperation Organization in 2007,
the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2011,
the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2014,
and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in 2015
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2018.

India and Shangai Cooperation Organisation

  • India was granted Observer Status at the July 2005 Astana Summit and subsequently participated in all Shangai cooperation forums open to Observers. 
  • India formally applied for full membership to the then Shangai cooperation Chair, Tajikistan, before the SCO Summit in Dushanbe in September 2014. Thereafter, the next SCO Summit in July 2015 in Ufa Russia, declared the initiation of the process of accession of India’s (and Pakistan’s) full membership in SCO.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Shangai cooperation Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 23-24 June 2016, wherein India signed the Memorandum of Obligations (MOO) to obtain the status of Member of SCO. 
  • The MOO outlined various obligations to be fulfilled by India in a sequential step-by-step and time-bound manner to obtain full membership. 
  • India completed all its obligations under the MOO and was granted the status of full member (along with Pakistan) on June 9, 2017, at the Shangai cooperation Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • India’s entry into Shangai cooperation as a full member since 9 June 2017. has been further activated with the establishment of the SCO Division in MEA and the appointment of National Coordinator and Permanent Representative to SCO. 
  • There has been regular participation in various Shangai cooperation meetings. 

Shangai Cooperation Organisation Summit.

SCO Summit
Country of MeetUpLocation
SCO Summit 200114 JuneChinaShanghai
SCO Summit 20027 JuneRussiaSaint Petersburg
SCO Summit 200329 MayRussia Moscow
SCO Summit 200417 JuneUzbekistanTashkent
SCO Summit 20055 July KazakhstanAstana
SCO Summit 200615 JuneChinaShanghai
SCO Summit 200716 AugustKyrgyzstanBishkek
SCO Summit 200828 August TajikistanDushanbe
SCO Summit 200915–16 June Russia Yekaterinburg
SCO Summit 201010–11 June UzbekistanTashkent
SCO Summit 201114–15 JuneKazakhstanAstana
SCO Summit 20126–7 June China Beijing
SCO Summit 201313 SeptemberKyrgyzstanBishkek
SCO Summit 201411–12 September TajikistanDushanbe
SCO Summit 20159–10 JulyRussiaUfa
SCO Summit 201623–24 June UzbekistanTashkent
SCO Summit 20178–9 June KazakhstanAstana
SCO Summit 20189–10 JuneChinaQingdao, Shandong
SCO Summit 201914–15 June KyrgyzstanBishkek
SCO Summit 202010 November Russiavideoconference
SCO Summit 2021September TajikistanDushanbe
SCO Summit 20222022UzbekistanSamarkand

In conclusion,the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has been successful in its mission to maintain regional security and stability. The organization has also been effective in promoting economic development and cooperation within the region. The SCO is an important forum for discussion and cooperation between the member states and will continue to play a significant role in the region in the future. This was all about Shangai cooperation ( SCO UPSC).

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