On 27 November 2018, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended and addressed a High-Level Special Event "UN-Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: Cooperation aimed at strengthening peace, security and stability."
In his remarks, Antonio Guterres noted that "the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a leading player in regional diplomacy, promoting multilateralism and fostering cooperation to address the most pressing peace and security issues in Eurasia."
"Your organisation represents the largest combined population of any regional grouping in the world: over 3 billion women and men," the Secretary-General said, adding that "member and observer states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation make important contributions to the United Nations, including to our peacekeeping operations which are a concrete demonstration of global solidarity."
"The world is changing in rapid and profound ways. Transnational challenges and threats including climate change, terrorism and violent extremism, and the trafficking of people, drugs and weapons require immediate, creative, coordinated solutions," the Secretary-General said. He went on to say that the SCO is a vital partner of the UN, closely working with the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA). "Our partnership contributes to peace and stability in Central Asia, including in counterterrorism and the prevention of violent extremism," Antonio Guterres noted.
The UN Secretary-General welcomed the enhanced cooperation with the SCO and regular contacts between the two organisations, as well as the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. "I also look forward to the engagement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the implementation of the third phase of the Joint Plan of Action for Central Asia, which aims to operationalise the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in the region," Antonio Guterres pointed out.
At the same time, he stressed that cooperation between the UN and the SCO "goes far beyond counter-terrorism and far beyond Central Asia." In this context, the UN chief recognised that there had been very close coordination of efforts between the SCO and UNODC, ESCAP, as well as prospects for promoting cooperation with UNESCO, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Tourism Organisation.
"It is indeed for me an enormous pleasure to be here today, and to say how much it is important for the United Nations to strengthen and to diversify this cooperation," Antonio Guterres said.
According to the UN Secretary-General, through their regular exchanges, the UN and the SCO are able to enhance their cooperation within a broader regional agenda, including the situation in Afghanistan. "I commend the support provided by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation through its revitalised Contact Group to advance security and stability in Afghanistan," he pointed out.
In his remarks, Antonio Guterres talked about the involvement of women and youth in international cooperation. In particular, he emphasised that "women must have a meaningful role in all peace processes and peacebuilding efforts. Women's participation at all levels has proven essential to creating sustainable peace, and to building resilient societies."
The UN Secretary-General also mentioned young people as another vital part of efforts towards peace and stability, noting a perfect alignment between the strategies of the two organisations in relation to youth. "Our new strategy for young people, Youth2030, aims to scale up global, regional and national action to meet young people's needs, realise their rights and tap into their abilities as agents of change," Antonio Guterres said.
"Young people have great potential to promote peace and tolerance and champion innovation. I welcome the Joint Address of the Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on Youth, adopted in Qingdao," the Secretary-General said, adding that "empowerment of women and young people, in the broader context of a vibrant civil society, is a solid basis for peace and human security."
The UN Secretary-General also emphasised that "the United Nations is committed to work closely with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation towards a stable and prosperous Eurasia region where people can enjoy peace, sustainable development and respect for human rights — the fundamental values that led to the development of the United Nations."
"We look forward to strengthening the ties between our respective organisations. Together, through complementary approaches and strategies, including preventive diplomacy, we can effectively address the challenges Eurasia faces," Antonio Guterres said to conclude his remarks.
The high-level special event on the cooperation between the UN and the SCO was held in the ECOSOC Chamber at the UN Headquarters in New York and was chaired by Kyrgyzstan. It brought together more than 100 representatives of the SCO family, as well as of interested UN member states and international organisations.