The forthcomming summit of the Shanghai Coopertion Organisation is critically important for global peace and international security. The first post-pandemic, comprehensive, in-person meeting of the Eurasian G8 and its partners is expected to come off as a historic event, writes Rashid Alimov, Professor, Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Doctor of Political Sciences, SCO Secretary-General (2016–2018).
An SCO summit will be held in Samarkand, Republic of Uzbekistan, on September 15-16. One of the world’s oldest cities will become a centre of global politics. The heightened interest in the upcoming meeting of the heads of the leading Eurasian states is quite understandable. The summit will take place amid three converging crises that directly affect the SCO member states and regional peace and security and that can catalyse changes in the existing world order. First comes the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan followed by the Ukraine-related crisis involving the "sanctions from hell" on Russia, and the crisis surrounding Chinese Taiwan that was caused by US provocations. The crisis of international relations which provides fertile soil for the crystallisation of a new multipolar world is the biggest crisis, though.
The world is witnessing a sharp aggravation in East-West relations that is being caused by the onset of a new world order. Once again, the West is “building” walls of alienation and “lowering” a second Iron Curtain in 70 years. The United States is making futile attempts to form a “broad-based” coalition against Russia and is resorting to blackmail and threats against China in an attempt to preserve the unipolar world. Global politics and economics are in the throes of mounting turbulence and tensions. The conventional international order is becoming a thing of the past. In these circumstances, a meeting of the heads of the SCO member states, which will bring together two permanent UN Security Council members (China and Russia), four nuclear powers (China, Russia, India and Pakistan) and nuclear-free Central Asia, is critically important for global peace and international security.
Importantly, the exchange of views between the leaders of the SCO states will take place not only during the SCO general meeting, but also in bilateral, trilateral and other formats with the participation of observer states and invited distinguished guests. The first post-pandemic, comprehensive, in-person meeting of the Eurasian G8 and its partners is expected to come off as a historic event.
What unites the SCO member states?
, it’s close or overlapping assessments of the current regional and international agenda. Second
, it is adherence to the creation of a more representative, democratic, fair and multipolar world based on the universally recognised principles of international law and the Shanghai Spirit. Third
, the SCO stands for respecting the right of nations to make an independent and democratic choice of political and socioeconomic developmentpath. Fourth
, the SCO is non-aligned and is not directed against other states or international organisations. Fifth
and final, it’s the SCO member states’ focus onadvancingteam efforts in building new international relations, as well as forming a common vision for the idea of creating a community of common destiny for humankind.
Will the SCO be reformed?
The SCO must move forward. From its earliest days, it has been following its own path. The world is changing, hence the SCO needs to adapt to the changing world. The SCO concept was put forward by its founders in 2001 and now needs to be improved and adjusted in light of new realities, challenges and opportunities. The SCO needs reforms, and its development strategy must be geared towards enhancing practical interaction. Over the past 20 years, the organisation has more than tripled in size (with six founding states in 2001 and 21 member states now, including observers and dialogue partners). Reforming the SCO will entail changes and additions to the SCO Charter that was adopted 20 years ago.
Will SCO priorities change?
Security interaction will remain an SCO priority. The number of local conflicts along the perimeter of the SCO’s external borders is not decreasing and local conflicts have regional and global dimensions which can be seen in the Afghanistan conflict that has lasted for almost half a century now. The common threats and challenges emanating from Afghanistan’s territory largely contributed to the emergence of the SCO on the political map of the world and the establishment of security cooperation within the region andeven with partners that lie far beyond SCO borders. The emergence of the SCO early on in the 21st century played a stabilising role for the Central Asian region and in many respects helped them form an effective partnership to stave off threats emanating from Afghanistan.
The deployment of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS SCO) in Central Asia, in Tashkent, in 2004was also a well-thought-out decision since international terrorist organisations, including those that have been comfortable within the borders of Afghanistan and are to this day, see great opportunities for spreading their radical ideas in the region.
Annual anti-terrorist exercises are the SCO’s collective response to the changing nature of existing security challenges and the danger they pose as they become intertwined. Furthermore, joint exercises “sober up” those who hatch aggressive plans related to the SCO region, including Central Asia. Importantly, the exercises are usually based on a scenario that is built on existing operational situations within the SCO and on the terrorists’ tactics. The first SCO/CSTO joint exercises in Tajikistan in the autumn of 2021 after the chaotic US evacuation from Afghanistan are the most recent examples. The SCO is not a military-political bloc, nor is it an anti-Western organisation, despite the fact that the West sees it as an emerging anti-Western bloc. The SCO is based on the concept of indivisible security.