Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?

  • It is a Eurasian political, economic, international security, and defence organization established in 2001.
  • It is an extension of the Shanghai Five Group (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan) that was created in 1996.
  • At a historic summit in Astana, Kazakhstan (2017) India and Pakistan become full-fledged members of SCO.
  • India’s decision to become a full member of the SCO is in line with its current policy of multi-alignment and maintaining its strategic autonomy.
  • Headquarters-  Beijing(China)
  • Since its inception, the SCO has mainly focused on
    • Regional security issues
    • Regional terrorism
    • Ethnic separatism
    • Religious extremism
    • Regional development
  • Member Countries– 9 members- Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, and Iran (latest member).
  • Significance- The SCO is the world’s largest regional organization consisting of 40% of the world’s population and 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

Importance of SCO for India:           

  • SCO is Part of India’s stated policy of pursuing “multi-alignments”.
  • From the Indian perspective, the strategic and geographical space in which the SCO straddles is extremely important. The security, strategic, economic, and geopolitical interests are also closely intertwined with developments in this area
  • The challenges of terrorism, radicalism, and instability pose a grave threat to Indian sovereignty and integrity
  • India requested access to intelligence and information from SCO’s counter-terrorism body, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS).
  • A stable Afghanistan is in India’s interest, and RATS provides access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information
  • With the landlocked states of Central Asia, and Uzbekistan even doubly landlocked, accessing these resources becomes difficult. In this regard, India has prioritized the construction of the International North-South Transport Joining SCO, it will help India to connect with South Asian states.
  • The Central Asian region is richly endowed with vital minerals and natural resources.
  • The major interest is in energy cooperation. But India will also have to deal with an assertive China, which will push its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • SCO membership will help India to be a major pan-Asian player, which is currently boxed in the South Asian Region.

Related Links: Belt and Road Initiative