India will host the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) next week.
Delegations from member states, including those from Pakistan and China, are likely to attend the meeting in New Delhi.
India is the current chair of the executive council of SCO RATS.
What is the SCO?
• The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001. It was founded by the presidents of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
• These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five group, formed on April 26, 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions.
• The SCO Charter was signed during the St Petersburg heads of state meeting in June 2002 and entered into force on September 19, 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation’s goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.
• The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
Who are the members of SCO?
• The SCO currently comprises nine Member States (China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).
• Iran was officially admitted as a full member of the SCO in September 2021.
• Other observer states interested in acceding to full membership are Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia. There are six dialogue partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
• India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 summit. On June 9, 2017, at the historic summit in Astana, India and Pakistan officially joined the SCO as full-fledged members.
• The SCO has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat in Beijing and Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent.
• The chairmanship of the SCO is by rotation for a year by the Member States.
The SCO’s main goals are:
• Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the Member States.
• Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research, technology, culture, 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.
India and the SCO
• India was made an observer at the July 2005 Astana Summit and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping, which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
• India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
• India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
• The RATS has been very effective in tackling terrorist activities. Under RATS coordination, the authorities of SCO member States have managed to prevent terrorist attacks while still in the planning stages, averted crimes of terrorist and extremist nature, and neutralized terrorist training camps and members of international terrorist organisations.