Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Hope for the Future of Mankind

Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Hope for the Future of Mankind

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Charter was signed on 7 July 2002, which became effective on 19 September 2003. SCO’s initial membership of six states (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Russia, and Uzbekistan) has, at present, increased to eight permanent members, with India and Pakistan joining the Organization in 2017. Iran’s full membership was approved last year and process for becoming permanent will be completed by April 2013. Similarly, accession of Belarus was also approved on 16 September 2022. Soon, ten states will enjoy the status of permanent members of the SCO.

In addition to the permanent member, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia have observer countries’ status, whereas Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey are the dialogue partners. During the recent SCO Summit held at Samarkand, on 15-16 September 2022, a significant leap forward was made by accepting Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE as new Dialogue Partners. All these countries are eagerly looking forward to join SCO as its permanent members in due course of time.

Many countries in the Middle East, West Asia, and beyond clearly see geopolitical and geo-economics advantages by joining SCO’s membership. It also displays their confidence in multifaceted cooperative agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that promises economic development through mutually beneficial relations. It also provides guarantees and assurances in other domains of international relational, such as regional and global security and stability, win-win cooperation, without any fear of economic exploitation and military coercion, and a hope for better, fair, equitable and just multi-polar world order.

Iran’s acceptance as a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization will open up a new horizon of multilateralism, which would accrue many advantages to Iran. Iran has demonstrated keen desire to pursue stronger relations with China and Russia. It is extremely important, rather crucial, for Iran to offset unjust, unfair and cruel sanctions imposed on her by US and its allies. Iran can take care of China’s energy requirements and other members of the SCO.

The 22nd SCO Summit, i.e. ‘Meeting of Council of Heads of State’ was held at Samarkand, Uzbekistan on 15-16 September 2022. It coincided with the SCO’s celebrations of 21 years of success, during which it has attained the status a very powerful and globally significant organization in the world.

This year’s summit attracted enormous attention from the regional and international media. It was the first summit of the SCO Heads of States since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine took place. Russia is a leading and very important member the SCO. Thus international media expected that Russia may come under some pressure to stop its military campaign in Ukraine. The media also focused on sidelines of meetings of Heads of States with Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Putin in-person and during numerous other bilateral meetings. Expansion process of SCO accepting new members, observers and dialogue partners was also keenly observed by international media, political analysts and strategist.

The contemporary world is facing multiple challenges and threats. People across the globe are looking toward a new era of great change that paves way for more just and fair global political order in which poor countries are not destroyed to fulfill the greed and lust of powerful countries and their alliances. They anxiously await for equitable distribution of resources allowing them better prospects of economic development which would help them to reduce and alleviate abject poverty suffered by a large segment of their population.

The 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, having objectively discussed these global, released a number of statements and documents on safeguarding global food security, international energy security, addressing climate change, and maintaining a secure, stable and diversified supply chain.

These decisions are expected to lead to more peaceful and prosperous world for all and not just for erstwhile colonial and imperialist powers.

The SCO has also paid attention to address regional challenges such as security, connectivity, and economic development. It can mediate for peaceful conflict resolution from the SCO platform to defuse territorial tensions and other disputes between India and Pakistan that are SCO members. It can also facilitates negotiated settlement of conflict between Iran, a new member the SCO and Saudi Arabia, which has recently become a dialogue partner. Similarly, Shanghai Cooperation Organization can help to promote regional and global peace and stability in many other regions of the world, such as Central Asia.

The SCO expansion, inclusion of Iran, and accepting new dialogue partners send a very positive message of regional integrity, connectivity and cohesiveness which indicate the dawn of a new era of regionalism and mutual win-win cooperation. The ‘Declaration’ released after the 22nd Summit Conference announces various new and innovative approaches to ensuring regional stability, sustainable economic development, strengthening of transport and communication links, and determination to build a more representative, democratic and just multipolar international world order.

It must also be kept in mind that the SCO does not chose to enforce any particular political or economic system, as is desired by the United States and Europe, rather it respects each country’s rights to choose their own political, economic and social development paths, and stresses that each country’s national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity must be respected by all other countries, without any interference in their internal affairs. It also opposes use of force or threat of use of force in international relations.

While encouraging nuclear disarmament, the SCO members supported mutual cooperation that aims to enhance peaceful use of nuclear energy. Member countries also proposed to carry out regional economic cooperation in various other fields, creating conditions for trade and investment to achieve the free flow of commodities, capital, services and technology. Another landmark achievement was the SCO’s resolution on establishing task forces of innovation, entrepreneurship, poverty reduction and traditional medicine. This must be considers as new milestone progress.

Many political analysts and strategist, especially those in the West, try to draw comparison and parallels between the SCO, NATO and regional organizations. It must be kept in mind that NATO, though a politico-security organization, is essentially a military alliance that was created to guarantee security to member states on the principle of ‘Collective Defence’. Politically, it aims to promote Western values, however, militarily it has indulged in interventions and occupation of many poor countries all over the world since its inception after World War II. Whereas, the SCO has been established and is being expanded by adherence to the respect Shanghai Spirit, which symbolizes the principles of mutual respects and trust, mutually beneficial win-win relations, equality of nations and states, and respect for the diversity of civilizations leading to development of communities with shared values for development and prosperity.

The SCO’s emphasis on to enhance the cooperation in the areas of poverty alleviation, climate change actions, comprehensive security, including energy, food and human security and safeguards against nontraditional security threats, promotion of education and, public-health care are milestone achievements. In nutshell SCO is not an exclusive club of more powerful countries. It is, rather, an inclusive organization that is promoting the principles of peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity to achieve the dream and objective of a community with a shared future.

Therefore, it can concluded that the SCO has a great future. It has an important role to play in balancing the world power competition and global rivalries. SCO is likely to continue expanding. As it covers more regions, its influence and ability to affect positive development will increase. In future, SCO will be playing more active role in maintaining and ensuring regional and global peace and stability. Therefore, though already included in its Charter, SCO will have to development more diplomatic instrument for peaceful resolution of regional and global conflicts, while creating a new hope for better future for mankind.