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SCO: A Success with Room for Improvement


  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) just held its 23rd Council of Heads of State meeting, which took place in New Delhi on July 4, 2023, and marked yet another important turning point for the organisation.
  • The inclusion of Iran as a full SCO member and the memorandum of obligations of Belarus to become a member state further strengthened the organization’s vitality.
  • During the summit, leaders of the SCO member-states signed the New Delhi Declaration and discussed cooperation in countering radicalization and digital transformation.


GS Paper 2 – Bilateral relations, regional cooperation, and global governance

Mains Question

Analyse the importance of the 23rd SCO summit’s decisions, particularly Iran’s full membership and the SCO’s plan for economic growth. Describe how the SCO promotes regional stability and addresses geopolitical concerns. (150 Words)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: What is it?

A permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was established in 2001. The SCO Charter was adopted in 2003 after being signed in 2002. China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the current eight members of the SCO.


  • Fostering mutual trust and good neighbourliness among member states is one of the objectives.
  • Encourage productive collaboration in politics, business and the economy, science and technology, and culture.
  • Strengthen cooperation in fields like environmental protection, energy, transportation, and tourism.
  • Ensure and uphold stability, security, and peace in the area.
  • Work to create a new world political and economic system that is democratic, equitable, and logical.

Various Obstacles in a Changing World

  • Geopolitical conflicts, economic difficulties, energy crises, food shortages, and climate change are all present issues facing our planet. All countries must act as one to address these complicated concerns.
  • The international community faces crucial questions about unity or division, peace or conflict, cooperation or confrontation, necessitating careful responses.
  • The major risks to world peace and development are power politics, economic coercion, technology decoupling, and ideological contestations.

The Promise of a Shared Future by SCO

  • The SCO has made an effort to establish a community with a shared future for humanity throughout its existence. Its member governments have promoted good neighbourliness, supported one another’s fundamental interests, and formed alliances based on communication and collaboration.
  • The organization’s activities have made a major difference in the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region. However, there remains room for the SCO to improve strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, and promote one another’s progress as the globe enters a new century.

Opportunities for India under the SCO

  • Regional Security: As a member of the Eurasian security alliance, India can work with the SCO to combat regional concerns like terrorism and religious extremism. For India to improve security and defence cooperation, strengthening relations with the SCO, notably its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), is a top priority.
  • Connect With Central Asia: India’s participation in the SCO is consistent with its policy to “Connect Central Asia.” The platform enables India to establish new connections and deepen existing ties with a region that has cultural similarities and acts as India’s extended neighbourhood.
  • Dealing With China and Pakistan: The SCO gives India the chance to effectively portray its security interests in the area while engaging both China and Pakistan in constructive dialogue.
  • Promoting Stability in Afghanistan: The SCO acts as a different regional forum for addressing the changing circumstances in Afghanistan. With a $3 billion aid package, India has already finished 500 development projects in Afghanistan, promoting stability and advancement there.
  • Strategic Importance: India is aware of the strategic importance of the SCO and the surrounding area. The foundational aspect of a “SECURE” Eurasia has been emphasised by the Indian Prime Minister, highlighting the significance of collaboration within the group.

Security and cooperation issues

  • For common security, the SCO member nations must strengthen their bonds of friendship and trust. They must maintain their vigilance and thwart any plans to instigate a fresh Cold War or bloc conflict in the area.
  • The fight against terrorism, separatism, and extremism as well as cooperation on digital, biological, and extraterrestrial security are crucial.In order to promote shared prosperity, the SCO should also place an emphasis on win-win collaboration, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, technology, climate action, infrastructure, and people-to-people engagement.

In favour of Multilateralism for a Common Goal

  • Multilateralism is essential for determining a shared future. To defend the UN-centered international system and international law, the SCO should cooperate with observer governments, dialogue partners, and other regional and international organisations including the United Nations.
  • The SCO and its allies can advance world peace, advance international order, and develop the planet collectively.

China’s Dedication and International Partnerships

  • China is committed to cooperating with India, South Africa, and other countries as a SCO member in order to promote world peace, security, and development.
  • The nation supports global, cooperative, and sustainable security while honouring the social and economic progress of every country. China supports for more equitable global governance that respects the rights and interests of developing countries and encourages for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve international problems.

Way Forward:

  • Given that Asia will rule the 21st century, it is crucial for China and India to forge an agreement that will allow for peaceful coexistence between the two countries. Both nations have a special opportunity to improve their relations and solve shared challenges via constructive conversation and collaboration as important members of the Shanghai collaboration Organisation (SCO).
  • India and China may cooperate to promote stability and advancement, both inside the organisation and on a larger Asian scale, by realising the value of the SCO as a forum for regional interaction. India and China can map out a route towards improved ties that would have significant effects on regional peace, security, and economic growth by making use of the SCO’s framework.
  • In light of the escalating terrorism in the area, the SCO’s emphasis on establishing a cooperative and long-lasting security framework is particularly pertinent. Member nations can intensify their joint efforts to address the common threat of extremism by cooperating within the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
  • Furthermore, the SCO member states should build common institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities while fostering a spirit of collaboration in recognition of the significance of encouraging interaction and connectivity between people, societies, and nations. This shared commitment to building a safe, secure, and stable region will open the door for development and higher human development scores under the SCO’s purview.


The success of the SCO is an example of how rising markets and developing countries have grown together, functioning as a forward-thinking force for justice and fairness in the world. A unified, egalitarian, and inclusive global development partnership can form as China, India, South Africa, and other partners set an example. It is critical to reject illegitimate unilateral sanctions and take a stand against hegemony, unilateralism, and a Cold War mindset. The SCO can build on its history of achievement and make a positive impact on the world stage by pursuing shared objectives and principles.

February 2024