- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government meeting was recently hosted virtually by India.
- The summit meeting was attended by the prime ministers of all other member-states – except India and Pakistan. India’s Vice-President represented India at the meeting.
Highlights of the meeting
- The participants in the meeting acknowledged that the SCO is an effective platform for cooperation for strengthening multilateralism, rule of international law and the UN Charter.
- The members highlighted the importance of using international and multilateral organisations to form a space of open, mutually beneficial and equal interaction in Eurasia.
- The members committed to cooperation on the prevention and control of infectious and non-infectious diseases, elimination of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of medical tourism.
- India also proposed the creation of a special working group on innovation and start-ups and an expert working group on traditional medicine.
Discussion on trade reforms:
- SCO members underlined the importance of deepening cooperation to support a transparent, open, inclusive, fair, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system based on principles and of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- They stressed on the need to reform WTO, by improving its key functions such as negotiations, monitoring and dispute resolution.
Discussion on terrorism:
- At the meeting, India said that the most important challenge faced by the region was terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism.
- Without naming Pakistan, India said it is concerned about States that use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
- Naidu underlined that such an approach is entirely against the spirit, ideals and the Charter of the SCO and added that India condemned (disapproves of) terrorism in all forms.
- The joint statement issued at the end of the Council meeting, however made no reference to terrorism.
India refused to support BRI:
- India refused to join other members of the SCO in supporting China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- The BRI is China’s flagship programme for trade and connectivity, and is backed by all the members of SCO except India.
- India refused to join the BRI in 2017, in protest over Chinese projects through Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and lack of transparency and sustainability in the initiative.
About: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation.
- The creation of SCO was announced in 2001 in by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter, that formally established the organisation, was signed in 2002 and entered into force in 2003.
- This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation’s goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.
- The SCO comprises eight member states, India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members in 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
SCO’s main goals:
- Strengthen mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states.
- Promote effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.
- Make joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region.
- Establish a democratic and fair international political and economic order.
- The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
- The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organisation’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, and also to approve the organisation’s annual budget.
- The SCO Secretariat, based in Beijing, is the main permanent executive body of the SCO. It coordinates the activity of the SCO and provides informational, analytical, legal, organizational and technical support.