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The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of Chinamarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Russiamarker, Tajikistanmarker, and Uzbekistanmarker. Except for Uzbekistan, the other countries had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.

Official names

The official working languages of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation are Chinese and Russian. The official names of the organisation in the two languages, abbreviations in parentheses, are:

Chinese:

Russian:
  • Cyrillic: Шанхайская организация сотрудничества (ШОС)
  • Romanisation: Shankhayskaya organizatsiya sotrudnichestva (ShOS)


Membership

Origins

The Shanghai Five grouping was originally created 26 April, 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. 24 April, 1997 the same countries signed the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in a meeting in Moscowmarker.

Subsequent annual summits of the Shanghai Five group occurred in Almatymarker (Kazakhstan) in 1998, in Bishkekmarker (Kyrgyzstan) in 1999, and in Dushanbemarker (Tajikistan) in 2000.

In 2001, the annual summit returned to Shanghai, Chinamarker. There the five member nations first admitted Uzbekistanmarker in the Shanghai Five mechanism (thus transforming it into the Shanghai Six). Then all six heads of state signed on June 15, 2001, the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, praising the role played thus far by the Shanghai Five mechanism and aiming to transform it to a higher level of cooperation. In July 2001, Russia and the PRC, the organisation's two leading nations, signed the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation.

In June 2002, the heads of the SCO member states met in Saint Petersburgmarker, Russia. There they signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organisation's purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, and established it officially from the point of view of international law.

Structure

The Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making body in the SCO. This council meets at the SCO summits, which are held each year in one of the member states' capital cities. The current Council of Heads of State consists of:

The Council of Heads of Government is the second-highest council in the organisation. This council also holds annual summits, at which time members discuss issues of multilateral cooperation. The council also approves the organisation's budget.

The council of Foreign Ministers also hold regular meetings, where they discuss the current international situation and the SCO's interaction with other international organisations.

As the name suggests, the Council of National Coordinators coordinates the multilateral cooperation of member states within the framework of the SCO's charter.

The Secretariat of the SCO is the primary executive body of the organisation. It serves to implement organisational decisions and decrees, drafts proposed documents (such as declarations and agendas), function as a document depository for the organisation, arranges specific activities within the SCO framework, and promotes and disseminates information about the SCO. It is located in Beijing. The current SCO Secretary-General is Bolat Nurgaliyev of Kazakhstan.

The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkentmarker, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism. The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.

Activities

Cooperation on security

The SCO is primarily centred on its member nations' Central Asian security-related concerns, often describing the main threats it confronts as being terrorism, separatism and extremism. However evidence is growing that its activities in the area of social development of its member states is increasing fast.

At the June 16-17 2004 SCO summit, held in Tashkentmarker, Uzbekistanmarker, the Regional Antiterrorism Structure (RATS) was established. On 21 April 2006, the SCO announced plans to fight cross-border drug crimes under the counter-terrorism rubric.

Grigory Logninov claimed in April 2006 that the SCO has no plans to become a military bloc; nonetheless he argued that the increased threats of "terrorism, extremism and separatism" make necessary a full-scale involvement of armed forces.

There have been a number of SCO joint military exercises. The first of these was held in 2003, with the first phase taking place in Kazakhstan and the second in China.

On a larger scale, but outside the SCO framework, the first ever joint military exercise between the PRCmarker and Russiamarker, called Peace Mission 2005 started on August 19, 2005. Following their successful completion, Russian officials have begun speaking of India joining such exercises in the future and the SCO taking on a military role.

The joint military exercises in 2007 (known as "Peace Mission 2007") took place in Chelyabinskmarker Russia, near the Ural Mountainsmarker and close to Central Asia, as was agreed upon on April 2006 at a meeting of SCO Defence Ministers. More than 4,000 soldiers participated from China. Air forces and precision-guided weapons were have likely to be used. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the exercises will be transparent and open to media and the public.

In October 2007, the SCO signed an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, to broaden cooperation on issues such as security, crime, and drug trafficking. Joint action plans between the two organisations are planned to be signed by early 2008 in Beijing.

Economic cooperation

All SCO members but China are also members of the Eurasian Economic Community. A Framework Agreement to enhance economic cooperation was signed by the SCO member states on 23 September 2003. At the same meeting the PRC's Premier, Wen Jiabao, proposed a long-term objective to establish a free trade area in the SCO, while other more immediate measures would be taken to improve the flow of goods in the region. A follow up plan with 100 specific actions was signed one year later, on September 23, 2004.

On 26 October 2005, the Moscowmarker Summit of the SCO, the Secretary General of the Organisation said that the SCO will prioritise joint energy projects; such will include the oil and gas sector, the exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves, and joint use of water resources. The creation of an Inter-bank SCO Council was also agreed upon at that summit in order to fund future joint projects. The first meeting of the SCO Interbank Association was held in Beijing on 21-22 February 2006. On 30 November 2006, at The SCO: Results and Perspectives, an international conference held in Almatymarker, the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia is developing plans for an SCO "Energy Club".. The need for this "club" was reiterated by Moscow at an SCO summit in November 2007. Other SCO members, however, have not committed themselves to the idea. However on 28 August 2008 summit it was stated that "Against the backdrop of a slowdown in the growth of world economy pursuing a responsible currency and financial policy, control over the capital flowing, ensuring food and energy security have been gaining special significance."

On 16 June, 2009, at the Yekaterinburg Summit, China announced plans to provide a US$10 billion loan to SCO member states to shore up the struggling economies of its members amid the global financial crisis. The summit was held together with the first BRIC summit, and the China-Russia joint statement said that they want a bigger quota in the IMFmarker.

Cultural cooperation

Cultural cooperation also occurs in the SCO framework. Culture ministers of the SCO met for the first time in Beijing on 12 April 2002, signing a joint statement for continued cooperation. The third meeting of the Culture Ministers took place in Tashkentmarker, Uzbekistan, on 27-28 April 2006.

An SCO Arts Festival and Exhibition was held for the first time during the Astanamarker Summit in 2005. Kazakhstan has also suggested an SCO folk dance festival to take place in 2008, in Astanamarker.

Summits

According to the Charter of the SCO, summits of the Council of Heads of State shall be held annually at alternating venues. The locations of these summits follow the alphabetical order of the member state's name in Russian. The charter also dictates that the Council of Heads of Government (that is, the Prime Ministers) shall meet annually in a place previously decided upon by the council members. The Council of Foreign Ministers is supposed to hold a summit one month before the annual summit of Heads of State. Extraordinary meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers can be called by any two member states.

List of Summits

Heads of State
Date Country Location
2001 Shanghai
2002 Saint Petersburgmarker
2003 Moscowmarker
2004 Tashkentmarker
2005 Astanamarker
2006 Shanghai
2007 Bishkekmarker
2008 Dushanbemarker
2009 Yekaterinburgmarker
2010 Tashkentmarker
Heads of Government
Date Country Location
2001 Almatymarker
2002 Saint Petersburgmarker
2003 Beijing
2004 Bishkekmarker
2005 Moscowmarker
2006 Dushanbemarker
2007 Tashkentmarker
2008 Astanamarker
2009 Beijing
2010 TBA



Future membership possibilities

Currently, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation does not have an official mechanism for admitting new members. Several states, however, participate as observers, some of whom have expressed interest in becoming full members in the future.

Current observers

Putin with representatives from Iran and Mongolia, observers in the SCO, at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government in 2005.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an SCO summit in 2004.
  • currently has observer status in the SCO. SCO members have encouraged India to join the organisation as a full-time member, because they see it as a crucial future strategic partner. Additional factors working in favour of India joining the SCO are its major military presence in Central Asia, its close military ties with several Central Asian countries (especially Tajikistan and Russia) and also its deep interest in the region's energy resources. Factors working against India's joining the SCO as a member include India's persistent military rivalry with fellow SCO-observer Pakistan and its general reluctance to make binding ties to groups that could compromise its strategic independence. India's status as a liberal democracy (Every other country in the SCO is rated as "Not Free" by the international NGO Freedom House, whereas India is rated as "Free") also puts it at odds with the members of the SCO.


  • currently has observer status in the organisation, and applied for full membership on 24 March 2008.


  • became the first country to receive observer status at the 2004 Tashkent Summit. Pakistanmarker, Indiamarker and Iranmarker received observer status at the 2005 SCO summit in Astanamarker, Kazakhstan on 5 July 2005.


  • currently has observer status in the SCO. In recent times, Pakistan has tried to improve its relations with Russiamarker. Pakistan also quietly backed Russia in its war against Georgia during the 2008 South Ossetia war. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf argued in favour of Pakistan's qualification to join the organisation as a full member during a joint summit with China in 2006. China said that it would convey Pakistan’s desire to all SCO member states. In turn, Musharraf was formally invited to the sixth summit of the SCO to take place in Shanghai in June. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani once again argued in favour of Pakistan qualification to join the organization as a full member.


Pakistan and Iran have been lobbying for full membership, while India and Mongolia have not shown strong interest in becoming official members. Russia's permanent representative in the SCO Secretariat Grigory Longinov has claimed that the enlargement of the SCO is impeded by "an immature mechanism of admission of new members", while Secretary General Zhang Deguang argued that an over-expansion might hinder the intensification of the cooperation.

Dialogue Partner

The position of Dialogue Partner was created in 2008 in accordance with Article 14 of the SCO Charter of 7 June 2002. This article regards Dialogue Partner as a state or an organisation who shares the goals and principles of the SCO and wishes to establish relations of equal mutually beneficial partnership with the Organisation.

  • Sri Lankamarker and were granted dialogue partner status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the group’s 2009 summit in Yekaterinburg.


Sri Lanka is located in an extremely strategically valued location in the world. China is currently building a harbor in the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota, widely seen as a naval base Chinese ships re-fueling and protecting its naval interests. Sri Lanka recently defeated the separatist LTTE with the cooperation of Shanghai Cooperation Members China and Russia.

Other countries

  • , while not an observer, is currently part of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. The contact group was established in November 2005, and serves as a mechanism for SCO member states to jointly contribute to reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan.


  • applied for observer status in the organisation and was promised Kazakhstan's support towards that goal. However, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov voiced doubt on the probability of Belarus' membership, saying that Belarus was a purely European country. Despite this, Belarus was accepted as a Dialogue Partner at the 2009 SCO Summit.


Relations with the West

Although the declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation contained a statement that it "is not an alliance directed against other states and regions and it adheres to the principle of openness", many observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to NATOmarker and the United Statesmarker and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas bordering both Russiamarker and Chinamarker. And although not a member state, President of the Islamic Republic of Iranmarker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used his speeches at the SCO to make verbal attacks against the United States.

The United Statesmarker applied for observer status in the SCO, but was rejected in 2005.

At the Astana summit in July 2005, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq foreshadowing an indefinite presence of U.S. forces in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the SCO urged the U.S. to set a timetable for withdrawing its troops from SCO member states. Shortly afterwards, Uzbekistan asked the U.S. to leave the K-2 air basemarker,.

Recently the SCO has made no direct comments against the U.S. or its military presence in the region. However, several indirect statements at the past summits, including the 2007 summit in Bishkekmarker, have been viewed as "thinly veiled swipes at Washington".

See also



External links



Discussion

Media

Articles and research

References

  1. Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers from Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia
  2. SCO Secretariat in Brief SCO Website
  3. Information on Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO Website
  4. SCO to intensify fight against cross-border drug crimes Xinhua.net
  5. SCO gets ready for joint military exercise World Student Press Agency
  6. SCO to stage joint anti-terror military exercise in 2007 Xinhua.net
  7. SCO's anti-terrorism military drill to be transparent Xinhua.net
  8. Security alliances led by Russia, China link up Daily Times
  9. Kazakhstan Notes Afghanistan's Emerging Security Agenda Eurasia Daily Monitor
  10. Central Asian powers agree to pursue free-trade zone
  11. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
  12. Joint Communique of the Council of the Governmental Heads (Prime Ministers) of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Member States University of Hawaii
  13. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Eyes Economic, Security Cooperation The Jamestown Foundation
  14. SCO Ministers of Foreign Economic Activity and Trade to meet in Tashkent National Bank of Uzbekistan
  15. Russia's Foreign Ministry develops concept of SCO energy club Gazeta.kz
  16. Russia Urges Formation of Central Asian Energy Club Eurasianet
  17. Chronicle of Main Events of "Shanghai Five" and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  18. (Xinhua)
  19. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ghofWsw6596hiWFv-WS4u6L84TGAD98RLUG80
  20. Culture Ministers of SCO Member States Meet in Beijing People's Daily
  21. SCO Culture Ministers to Meet in Tashkent Gazeta.kz
  22. Kazakhstan Backs Promotion of SCO Cultural Ties Embassy of Kazakhstan in India
  23. Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO Website
  24. Joint Communiqué of Meeting of the Council of the Heads of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO Website
  25. http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-10-14-voa14.cfm
  26. SCO Heads of Government Council meets in Beijing
  27. Moratorium on SCO expansion unlikely to be lifted in near future - source Interfax Kazakhstan
  28. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation - Towards New Dynamism - Mainstream Weekly
  29. EurasiaNet Eurasia Insight - India: The New Central Asian Player
  30. Asia Times Online :: South Asia news - India makes a soft landing in Tajikistan
  31. Iran applies for membership Press TV
  32. http://geo.tv/10-14-2009/50915.htm
  33. SCO Fails to Solve Its Expansion Dilemma Central Asia-Caucasus Institute
  34. SCO has immature mechanism of new members admission - official UzReport
  35. Regulations on the Status of Dialogue Partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  36. Sri Lanka gains partnership in SCO members welcome end to terror in country
  37. SCO, Afghanistan need to deepen cooperation, secretary general People's Daily
  38. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation acquires military character Kommersant
  39. Fels, Enrico (2009), Assessing Eurasia's Powerhouse. An Inquiry into the Nature of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Winkler Verlag: Bochum, p. 23-27.
  40. Ahmadinejad stresses need for a new world order Press TV
  41. Shanghai surprise Guardian Unlimited
  42. Central Asia: China and Russia up the ante The Hindu
  43. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summiteers Take Shots at US Presence in Central Asia Eurasianet






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