Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an inter-governmental Organization, the creation of which was announced in Shanghai, China on 15 June 2001 by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and. Apart from Uzbekistan, the other five countries have been a part of the 'Shanghai Five' constituted in 1996 by China to address border security issues with four of its neighbors. The cooperation was renamed to Shanghai Cooperation Organization after Uzbekistan joined the Organization in 2001. The six member states occupy territory that accounts for three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and have a population of 1.5 billion, a quarter of the world's population. On 9 June 2017, India and Pakistan were inducted as full members in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. This is the first-ever expansion of the Organization since its formation in 2001. Now, with two new members, the Organization represents 3 billion people and accounts for a quarter of world's GDP.

SCO Objectives

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

Structure of SCO

  • Heads of State Council – The supreme SCO body which decides its internal functioning and its interaction with other States & international organizations, and considers international issues.
  • Heads of Government Council – Approves the budget, considers and decides upon issues related economic spheres of interaction within SCO. Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs – Considers issues related to day-to-day activities.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) – Established to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • SCO Secretariat – Based in Beijing to provide informational, analytical & organizational support.

SCO -STI Cooperation

The fifth session of Heads of Ministries and Department of Science & Technology the SCO member states was held at Moscow during 20-21 November 2019. This was proceeded by SCO Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Working Group Meeting 19-20 November. Meeting was attended by all eight member states of the SCO member states and representatives of the SCO observer states, including the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Mongolia, as well as representatives from the SCO dialogue partners, including the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.

In order to promote scientific, technical and innovative cooperation between the SCO member States, the member states emphasized the need of implementation of the agreed Actions Plan (Roadmap) for cooperation between scientific-research centers of the SCO member States in 2019-2020 and other previous decisions and; have agreed to develop the draft unified Actions Plan (Roadmap) for cooperation between SCO scientific-research institutions for years 2021-2023 and which will be put up for next SCO STI Ministerial Meeting consideration/endorsement.

Key Decisions

Supporting Joint R&D Projects at SCO multilateral forum

  1. All sides agreed to develop a mechanism including mobilization of resources/funds for supporting R&D projects at SCO multilateral forum. Russia voluntarily agreed to take lead in developing the details of mechanism and India will also be part of process. India has shared the draft of SCO STI Framework Program and "Implementation Plan" for supporting multilateral interdisciplinary research and innovation projects.
  2. All sides unanimously decided to collaborate in thematic areas such as environmental technologies, biotechnology, bio-engineering, energy efficiency and energy saving; innovative technologies in agriculture, including the food sector, Life Sciences, Earth Science in line with Plan of practical measures ("Roadmap") on Cooperation of Scientific Research Institutions of the SCO Member States for 2019-2020 approved by Decision of the Council of Heads of Governments (Prime Ministers) of the SCO Member States 12 October 2018) and 2013 SCO Science and Technology Agreement. Simultaneously, the scoping of details of SCO STI framework program and "Implementation Plan" will be carried out in consultation with SCO member countries.

Young Scientist and Innovators networking
India proposed to host the first SCO Young Scientist & Innovators Forum meeting in 2020. This was endorsed by all SCO countries. India will host the young scientist forum meeting before the meeting of Council of heads of States (Prime Ministers) of SCO member states in 2020. This will give visibility and strategic edge/importance to all SCO countries by engaging with youth. The details concept note on SCO Young Scientist and Innovators networking will be developed by India and shared with other SCO member states in due course of time.

Sharing and access of Research Infrastructures and mega Science projects among SCO countries.
The SCO member states have agreed to create a SCO Research Infrastructure Database. The meeting participants unanimously agreed on the need for further steps to make it easier for specialists and research groups to use the scientific infrastructure, including Mega-Science class units, in the SCO member states, with due consideration for each country's national legislation.

SCO-Participating Countries

Presently, the SCO comprises eight member states

  • The Republic of India
  • The Republic of Kazakhstan
  • The People's Republic of China
  • The Kyrgyz Republic
  • The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • The Russian Federation
  • The Republic of Tajikistan
  • The Republic of Uzbekistan

The SCO counts four observer states

  • The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

  • The Republic of Belarus
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran
  • The Republic of Mongolia

The SCO has six dialogue partners

  • Republic of Azerbaijan
  • The Republic of Armenia
  • The Kingdom of Cambodia
  • The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
  • The Republic of Turkey
  • The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka