The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Its Stature in The Modern World
GS Paper 2, IR, Important International Institutions.


  • Iran and Belarus might become the newest members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is sponsored by China and Russia.
  • Last week, Chinese ambassador and SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming declared, “We need to develop consensus for Belarus’s adoption.” According to him, the proposed expansion would demonstrate the collective’s growing international impact and widespread acceptance of its ideas.

What is the SCO?

  • It was founded in June 2001 on the ‘Shanghai Five,’ a grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
  • They got together in the post-Soviet era in 1996 to focus on regional security, border troop reduction, and terrorism.
  • Given its early success between China and Russia, and then inside the Central Asian Republics, they bestowed a special emphasis on ‘conflict settlement.’
  • Members: India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the group’s eight members. The SCO also contains four observer states: Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus, and Mongolia, with Iran and Belarus on the verge of becoming full members.

SCO’s Goals Are as Follows:

  • Increasing mutual trust and neighbourliness among member countries.
  • Encouraging successful collaboration in politics, commerce and economics, research and technology, and culture.
  • Strengthening linkages in education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.
  • Maintain and ensure regional peace, security, and stability.
  • The establishment of a new world political and economic system that is democratic, fair, and reasonable.

Areas of Concentration:

  • Its main areas of interest include education, energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental preservation.
  • It also asks for concerted efforts to preserve and secure regional peace, security, and stability, as well as the construction of a new world political and economic order that is democratic, fair, and logical.
  • The precise claim, paired with some of the member states’ features, has frequently led to it being positioned as a contrast to Western accords and groups, notably the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

SCO Outcomes Include:

  • Some of their notable outcomes in this arena include a 1996 ‘Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas’ between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, which resulted in a 1997 agreement on the mutual reduction of military forces on their common borders.
  • It would also assist Central Asian countries in resolving some of their boundary conflicts.
  • The ‘Shanghai Five’ brought Uzbekistan into their fold in 2001 and renamed it the SCO, detailing its values in a charter that emphasised the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation.
  • The charter, established in St. Petersburg in 2002, specifies that its principal aims are to develop mutual trust and neighbourliness among member nations, as well as to promote successful cooperation in politics, commerce, economics, research and technology, and culture.

Relevancy w.r.t India:

  • India joined the organisation as an observer in 2005 and was recognised as a full member in 2017.
  • The SCO hosts have encouraged members to utilise the opportunity to address issues with other members on the side-lines over the years.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi met former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2015, and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar reached a five-point deal with his Chinese colleague Wang Yi on the side-lines of the Moscow summit in 2020.
  • India is also a member of the ‘Quadrilateral’ organisation, together with the United States, Japan, and Australia. Its connection with a particular type of grouping is part of its foreign policy, which emphasises “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment.”

Cooperation Between India and the SCO:

  • Increase collaboration in the sphere of work with youth and public youth organisations (associations) that execute state youth policy.
  • Encourage efforts aimed at improving international youth collaboration.
  • Professional staff training in the field of youth work.
  • The exchange of scientific, reference, and methodological resources, as well as the work experience of state bodies, young public organisations, and other organisations and associations participating in the execution of state youth policy and the support of youth initiatives.
  • Conducting collaborative research and activities on a variety of youth policy topics and youth collaboration.
  • Exchange of scientific articles and research works on current concerns related to reducing juvenile engagement in harmful institutions.
  • Encourage collaborative economic and humanitarian activities to engage youngsters in entrepreneurship and creative ventures that will boost their employment and well-being.
  • Assisting the SCO Youth Council’s operations.

What Is the Structure of The Organisation?

  • The SCO Secretariat is headquartered in Beijing, and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is headquartered in Tashkent.
  • The organisation also includes the Heads of State Council (HSC), the Heads of Government Council (HGC), and the Foreign Ministers Council.
  • The HSC is the organization’s highest decision-making body. It meets once a year to make decisions and set standards on all significant issues facing the organisation.
  • The HGC (mostly Prime Ministers) meets annually to determine the organization’s priorities and multilateral cooperation strategy.
  • Along with approving the organization’s yearly budget, it also works to resolve current economic and collaboration concerns.
  • The Foreign Ministers Council discusses matters concerning the organization’s day-to-day operations, scheduling HSC meetings and discussions on international topics within the organisation, and, if necessary, makes remarks on behalf of the SCO.

Is The SCO A Threat to The Western Powers?

  • The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) stated in 2015 that China’s decades of strong economic expansion had catapulted it into the global scene, whereas Russia faced economic turbulence following the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and expulsion from the G8 grouping.
  • The West has sanctioned Russia on many fronts in response to its actions in Ukraine. In what may be described as ‘distance diplomacy,’ China argued that one country’s security should not come at the price of another, blaming the West (particularly NATO) for the entire incident.
  • As a result, the organisation led by both Russia and China has no allies in the West.
  • Furthermore, while the suggested entry of Iran may not provide much immediate advantage, it would imply tighter connections with both China and Russia.
  • The Iranian leadership has often stated that the country must “Look East.” This is critical not just to avoid economic isolation from the West (by addressing banking and trade issues caused by US sanctions), but also to identify strategic friends who can assist it secure a fresh agreement on the nuclear programme.
  • In other words, it is leveraging its connections with China and Russia against the West.
  • It would also help it enhance its presence throughout Asia.
  • The same holds true for Belarus, which has backed Russia in its activities in Ukraine. Its membership in the SCO bodes well for its diplomacy and regional standing.


  • India regards the SCO as an important regional organisation for encouraging collaboration in a wide range of disciplines based on widely recognised international ideals such as good governance, the rule of law, openness, transparency, and equality.
  • India should strengthen its ties with Central Asia through the Chabahar port, and the Ashgabat agreement should be leveraged to develop a broader footprint in Eurasia, with a focus on the International North-South Corridor (INSTC).
  • The goal of the SCO, which is to increase economic cooperation, trade, energy, and regional connectivity, should be used to deepen ties with Pakistan and persuade it to unblock India’s access to Eurasia, as well as to add impetus to initiatives like as the Silk Road Economic Belt.
  • The SCO allows India to enhance its ties with Russia.
  • The Eurasian strategy should be envisioned to serve India’s regional interests in order to secure nation-building, sovereignty, and the prevention of terrorism and extremism in the region.
  • India may use the summit to monitor and counter the influence of China and Pakistan.
  • The organisation could be able to help India develop collaboration and enhance ties with Central Asian States (CARs).
  • Increased terrorist activity in the region needs the creation of a “cooperative and sustainable security” framework, as well as the strengthening of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.


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