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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO Summit, 2023

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  • Context (TH): India chaired the SCO’s Council of Heads of State on July 4 for the first time.
  • PM Modi “virtually hosted” the presidents of Russia, China, and Central Asian Presidents and the PM of Pakistan. The summit was planned initially as an in-person summit for the leaders in Delhi.
  • Iran became the new permanent member of the SCO at this India-hosted summit of the grouping.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

  • SCO is an Eurasian intergovernmental organisation and economic and security alliance.
  • It emerged as the successor to the Shanghai Five, established in 1996 and consisting of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
  • SCO was formally formed in 2001 by including Uzbekistan.
  • India and Pakistan joined the grouping in 2017 in its first round of expansion.

Members States

  • Members (9): China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan & Iran.
  • Three Observes interested in full membership: Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia, and
  • Several Dialogue Partners that include Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, etc.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Members

Importance

  • SCO is the largest regional organisation globally, covering around 60% of the Eurasian landmass and 40% of the world’s population.
  • The SCO member states collectively contribute to ~20% of the global GDP.

Governance

  • SCO mainly focuses on regional development and security issues like regional terrorism, ethnic separatism, religious extremism, etc.
  • It is governed by the Heads of State Council (HSC), its supreme decision-making body, which meets once a year.
  • The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.

Presidency

  • The rotational presidency of SCO has been handed over to India in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in 2022.
  • India will hold the presidency of the grouping for the first time for a year until September 2023.
  • The next meeting of the SCO-HSC will be held in 2024 in Kazakhstan.

Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure

  • The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO that serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • It is headquartered in Tashkent.
  • The head of RATS is elected for a three-year term.

Tourism and Cultural Capital

  • Varanasi has been selected as the SCO region’s first “Tourism and Cultural Capital” for 2022-23.
  • SCO will rotate the ‘Cultural and Tourism Capital’ title among the member states.

SCO Summit, 2023

  • India hosted the summit for the first time. It was held virtually.
  • Leaders of SCO called for a more representative and multipolar world order.
  • Iran was included as SCO’s ninth member.
  • SCO members agreed to explore using “national currenciesfor payments within the grouping. The use of national currencies would circumvent international dollar-based payments.

New Delhi Declaration of the Council of Heads of State

  • New Delhi Declaration was signed at SCO 2023 Summit.
  • It states that the world must come together to “counter the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups, paying special attention to spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, ideas of fascism and chauvinism.”
  • The Member States sought to develop common principles and approaches to form a unified list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organisations.
  • They opposed the militarisation of information and communication technologies.

India at SCO 2023

  • India stays out of joint statements on:
    1. SCO Economic Development Strategy 2030
    2. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • India opposes the BRI over its inclusion of projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • India criticised China for connectivity projects that do not respect sovereign boundaries.
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