Focus: GS II- International Relations
Why in News?
Raksha Mantri is visiting Tashkent, Uzbekistan to attend the Annual Meeting of the Defence Ministers’ of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member States.
What is the SCO?
- Founded in June 2001, it was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’, the grouping which consisted of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
- They came together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops and terrorism.
- They endowed particular focus on ‘conflict resolution’, given its early success between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.
- Some of their prominent outcomes in this arena entail an ‘Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas’ (in 1996) between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which led to an agreement on the mutual reduction of military forces on their common borders in 1997.
- It would also pitch in to help the Central Asian countries resolve some of their boundary disputes.
- In 2001, the ‘Shanghai Five’ inducted Uzbekistan into its fold and named it the SCO, outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation.
- The precise assertion, combined with some of the member states’ profiles, of building a “new international political and economic order” has often led to it being placed as a counter to treaties and groupings of the West, particularly North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
- India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- The SCO also has four observer states — Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia — of which Iran and Belarus are now moving towards full membership.
- Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
- Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology, and culture.
- Education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection.
- It also calls for joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
Organizational structure of SCO
The SCO secretariat has two permanent bodies —
- SCO Secretariat based in Beijing
- Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
Other than this, the grouping consists of
Heads of State Council (HSC):
- It is the supreme decision-making body of the organisation.
- It meets annually to adopt decisions and guidelines on all important matters relevant to the organisation.
Heads of Government Council (HGC):
- The HGC (mainly including Prime Ministers) also meets annually to zero in on the organisation’s priority areas and multilateral cooperation strategy.
- It also endeavours to resolve present economic and cooperation issues alongside approving the organisation’s annual budget.
Foreign Ministers Council:
- The Foreign Ministers Council considers issues pertaining to the day-to-day activities of the organisation, charting HSC meetings and consultations on international problems within the organisation and if required, makes statements on behalf of the SCO.