• World
  • Jul 05

Belarus joins SCO as 10th member

• Belarus has become the 10th member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). 

• The announcement was made by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during the SCO summit in Astana.

• Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took part in the Summit. He said the country sees the SCO as a crucial pillar of support.

• The latest expansion bolsters the SCO’s capacity for regional cooperation and strengthens its influence on the global stage.

• The 24th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State was held on July 4 in Astana. 

• Kazakhstan hosted the summit in its capacity as the current chair of the grouping. 

• Delivering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at the meeting, Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, who attended the meeting, recalled that one of the original goals of the SCO is to combat terrorism.

• India asked the international community to isolate and expose those countries that harbour terrorists, provide safe havens and condone terrorism, underlining that if left unchecked, terrorism can become a major threat to regional and global peace.

What is the SCO?

• The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an inter-governmental 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. 

• The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

Members of SCO

• The SCO currently comprises ten member states (China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus). 

• Other observer states interested in acceding to full membership are Afghanistan and Mongolia. 

• There are 14 dialogue partners — Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bahrain, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Sri Lanka.

• 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.

• India's chairmanship of SCO has been a period of intense activity and mutually beneficial cooperation between member states.

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