Advancing the SCO's Success and Strengthening Cooperation

Advancing the SCO's Success and Strengthening Cooperation
Posted on 28-07-2023

Advancing the SCO's Success and Strengthening Cooperation

India recently hosted the 23rd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), marking another significant milestone for the organization. While the SCO has achieved commendable progress since its establishment in 2001, there are challenges from India's perspective that need to be addressed to further enhance the organization's effectiveness. This article explores the SCO's journey, highlights the recent summit, and suggests ways to make the organization more robust and beneficial for its member states.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: A Brief Overview

The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental organization focusing on political, economic, international security, and defense issues. It was created in 2001, building upon the foundation of the "Shanghai Five," which comprised Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Originally formed in 1996, the Shanghai Five aimed to address regional security, border troop reduction, and counter-terrorism in the post-Soviet era.

Over the years, the SCO expanded its membership, with Uzbekistan joining in 2001 and India and Pakistan becoming full members in 2017. The most recent addition to the SCO was Iran in 2023, under the chairmanship of India. Encompassing approximately 60% of Eurasia's area and 40% of the world's population, the SCO holds immense potential for regional cooperation and development.

Highlights of the Recent SCO Summit

During the recent SCO summit, leaders of member states signed the New Delhi Declaration and issued statements on countering radicalization and exploring cooperation in digital transformation. Key outcomes included granting Iran full SCO membership, the memorandum of obligations for Belarus to join as a member-state, and the adoption of the SCO's economic development strategy for 2030.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that India expressed reservations on certain issues, including China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the SCO Economic Development Strategy 2030, reflecting a lack of consensus within the grouping. Moreover, India raised concerns about cross-border terrorism, and China's connectivity projects that did not respect sovereign boundaries were also subject to criticism.

The Role of SCO in a Changing World and Geo Politics

The SCO has strived to become a community with a shared future for all its member states, promoting dialogue and cooperation instead of confrontation or alliance. It has significantly contributed to regional peace, stability, and prosperity. For India, the SCO serves as a crucial platform to connect with Central Asia and safeguard its security, geopolitical, strategic, and economic interests.

Challenges Faced by India as a SCO Member

India faces various challenges as an SCO member. Some of these include the perception of the organization as promoting Chinese interests, growing convergence with China and Russia, differences with Pakistan hindering effective functioning, and India's stance against the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative potentially leading to isolation within the group. Additionally, India must navigate the geographical challenges to achieve tangible gains in trans-regional connectivity. Addressing state-sponsored terrorism remains a significant concern, and sensitizing influential SCO members about Pakistan's involvement is essential.

Suggestions to Enhance SCO's Effectiveness

To make the SCO a more effective organization, the member states should consider the following strategies:

  1. Strengthen Strategic Communication: Enhance communication among member-states, deepen practical cooperation, and support each other's development and rejuvenation.

  2. Enhance Solidarity and Mutual Trust for Common Security: Address emerging developments like bloc confrontation and uphold a firm rejection of such approaches. Strengthen security cooperation, counter-terrorism efforts, and crack down on extremism and transnational organized crime.

  3. Foster Cooperation in Digital, Space, and Technology: Promote cooperation in digital, biological, and outer space security, and engage in resolving international and regional hot-spot issues.

  4. Embrace Win-Win Cooperation: Encourage collaboration in trade, investment, technology, climate actions, infrastructure, and people-to-people engagement for the region's economic growth and resilience.

  5. Advocate Multilateralism: Engage with observer states, dialogue partners, and international organizations such as the UN to uphold the international order based on international law.

  6. Encourage China's Commitment to Multilateralism: Urge China to respect each country's independent path to development, abide by the UN Charter's principles, and deescalate conflicts to consider reasonable security interests of all nations.


The SCO has made significant strides in promoting regional cooperation and security. To continue its success story, addressing the challenges and promoting greater collaboration among member-states is crucial. By strengthening strategic communication, enhancing solidarity, and embracing win-win cooperation, the SCO can play an even more significant role in safeguarding the development rights and legitimate interests of its member states and the broader developing world.

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