Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization established on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai (PRC) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. Its predecessor was the mechanism of the Shanghai Five.
In 2002, the Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was signed at the meeting of the Council of Heads of States in St. Petersburg, which entered into force on September 19, 2003. It is a statute that stipulates the goals, principles, structure and major areas of activities of the organization.
The goals of the SCO are:
• to strengthen mutual trust, friendship and good-neighborliness between the Member States;
• to encourage the effective cooperation between the Member States in such spheres as politics, trade, economy, science and technology, culture, education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, etc;
• to jointly ensure and maintain peace, security and stability in the region; and
•to promote a new democratic, fair and rational international political and economic international order.
Internally, the SCO adheres to the "Shanghai spirit", namely, mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development; and externally, it upholds non-alignment, non-targeting at other countries or regions and the principle of openness.
The supreme decision-making body of the SCO is the Council of Heads of States (CHS). It meets once a year and decide upon all the important issues of the Organization. The Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) (CHG) meets once a year to discuss the strategy of multilateral cooperation and priority areas within the Organization, determine fundamental and topical issues in economic and other spheres, and approve the budget of the SCO.
In addition to the meetings of the CHS and the CHG, there are also mechanisms for meetings on foreign affairs, national defense, security, economy and trade, culture, health, education, transport, emergency prevention and relief, science and technology, agriculture, the judiciary, tourism, industry, energy, poverty alleviation, sports, etc. The Council of National Coordinators is the SCO coordination mechanism.
The Organization has 2 standing bodies — the Secretariat in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. The SCO Secretary General and the Director of the RATS Executive Committee are appointed by the CHS for a three-year term. On January 1, 2022, Zhang Ming (China) and R. E. Mirzaev (Uzbekistan) took office as the SCO Secretary General and Director of the RATS Executive Committee respectively.
In 2005, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was established.
The SCO has established partnerships with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), and the League of Arab States (LAS), etc.
The official languages of the SCO are Russian and Chinese.
Currently, the SCO countries includes:
• 8 Member States — the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;
• 4 Observer States — the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Mongolia. In 2021, the procedure of granting Iran the status of Member State was started at the SCO Summit in Dushanbe; in 2022, a similar procedure was launched for Belarus at the SCO Summit in Samarkand;
• 9 Dialogue Partners — the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the State of Qatar, Nepal, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. In 2022, the procedure for granting the status of Dialogue Partners to Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates was initiated at the SCO Summit in Samarkand.