Foreign Policy Watch: India-SCO

EAM Jaishankar attends SCO Summit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SCO and its expansion

Why in the News?

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addressed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on behalf of Prime Minister Modi.

About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

  • Established in 2001 by China and Russia, the SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization.
  • It spans about 80% of Eurasia and encompasses 40% of the world’s population, with a GDP of around 20% of global GDP as of 2021.
  • Successor to the Shanghai Five, formed in 1996 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
  • It evolved into the SCO in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan.
  • India and Pakistan joined in June 2017, followed by Iran in July 2023, and Belarus in July 2024.
  • Several other countries participate as observers and dialogue partners.
  • Governed by the Heads of State Council (HSC), the supreme decision-making body that meets annually.
  • Includes the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) as a key component for security coordination.
Key Structures
  • Heads of State Council: Supreme decision-making body.
  • Heads of Government Council: Discusses multilateral cooperation and approves budgets.
  • Council of Foreign Ministers: Regular meetings on international affairs.
  • Council of National Coordinators: Coordinates multilateral efforts.
  • Headquartered in Beijing, China, the Secretariat executes organizational decisions, drafts documents, and promotes SCO activities.
  • Secretary-General serves a 3-year term.
RATS Executive Committee
  • Based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, RATS fosters cooperation against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.
  • The director serves a three-year term overseeing these efforts.
Official Languages Chinese and Russian are the SCO’s official languages.
Key Agreements
  • Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions (1996)
  • Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions (1997)
  • Declaration on a “multipolar world” (1997)
Major Activities
  • Annual summits and meetings across member states;
  • Initiatives in transportation, energy, and telecommunications;
  • Regular gatherings of security, defence, economic, and cultural officials.
International Relations Established partnerships with various global bodies including the UN, ASEAN, CIS, CSTO, ECO, and CICA, reflecting its broad engagement in regional and international affairs.

Strategic Significance of SCO for India

  • Open-door for bilateral: Membership facilitates India’s engagement with Central Asian nations and major regional powers like China and Russia on shared security challenges.
  • China-Russia Dynamics: SCO serves as a platform for China and Russia to assert influence and counter Western dominance in international forums.
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Dispute: India’s stance against endorsing BRI projects through SCO reflects its concerns over sovereignty, particularly regarding CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

About Kazakhstan

  • Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country and the ninth-largest country by land area, spanning an area of 2.7 million square kilometres.
  • It borders Russia to the north and west, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the southwest



[2022] Consider the following:

  1. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
  2. Missile Technology Control Regime
  3. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

India is a member of which of the above?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

[2021] Critically examine the aims and objectives of SCO. What importance does it hold for India?

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