Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental international organization founded inShanghaion15 June 2001bysix countries,China,Russia,Kazakhstan,Kyrgystan,TajikistanandUzbekistan.Its member states cover an area of over 30 million km2, or about three fifths ofEurasia, with a population of 1.455 billion, about a quarter of the world's total.Its working languages are Chinese and Russian.
I.Origin of the SCO
SCO's predecessor, the Shanghai Five mechanism, originated and grew from the endeavor byChina,Russia,Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan andTajikistanto strengthen confidence-building and disarmament in the border regions.In 1996 and 1997, their heads of state met inShanghaiandMoscowrespectively and signedtheTreaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regionsand theTreaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions.Thereafter, this annual meeting became a regular practice and had beenheld alternately in the five member states.The topics of the meeting gradually extended from building up trust in the border regions to mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, security, diplomatic, economic, trade and other areas among the five states.The President of Uzbekistan was invited to the 2000Dushanbe Summit as a guest of the host state.As the first meeting of the five heads of state took place inShanghai, the cooperation mechanism was later known as the "Shanghai Five".
On the fifth anniversary of the Shanghai Five in June 2001, the heads of state of its members and the President of Uzbekistan met inShanghai, the birthplace of the mechanism.First they signed a joint declaration admittingUzbekistanas member of the Shanghai Five mechanism and then jointly issued theDeclaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.The document announced that for the purpose of upgrading the level of cooperation to more effectively seize opportunities and deal with new challenges and threats, the six states had decided to establish a Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the basis of the Shanghai Five mechanism.
In June 2002, the heads of SCO member states met inSt. Petersburgand signed theSCO Charter, which clearly expounded the SCO purposes and principles, organizational structure, form of operation, cooperation orientation and external relations, marking the actual establishment of this new organization in the sense of international law.
II.Purposes and Principles of SCO
According to theSCO Charterand theDeclaration on the Establishment of the SCO, the main purposes of SCO are: strengthening mutual trust and good-neighborliness and friendship among member states;developing their effective cooperation in political affairs, the economy and trade, science and technology, culture, education, energy, transportation, environmental protection and other fields; working together to maintain regional peace, security and stability; and promoting the creation of a new international political and economic order featuring democracy, justice and rationality.
The SCO abides by the following basic principles: adherence to the purposes and principles of theCharter of the United Nations; respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, mutual non-use or threat of use of force; equality among all member states; settlement of all questions through consultations; non-alignment and no directing against any other country or organization; opening to the outside world and willingness to carry out all forms of dialogues, exchanges and cooperation with other countries and relevant international or regional organizations.
The SCO stands for and acts on a new security concept anchored on mutual trust, disarmament and cooperative security; a new state-to-state relationship with partnership instead of alignment at its core, and a new model of regional cooperation featuring concerted efforts of countries of all sizes and mutually beneficial cooperation.In the course of development, aShanghaispirit gradually took shape, a spirit characterized by mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, cooperation, respect for diversified civilizations and common development.
III.Institutional Set-Up of SCO
The SCO institutions consist of two parts: the meeting mechanism and the permanent organs.
1.Council of Heads of State.It is the highest SCO organ.Its main functions are: to identify priority areas and basic directions of SCO activities; to determine matters of principle concerning SCO internal set-up and operation; to decide on matters of principle of SCO cooperation with other countries and international organizations; and to study pressing international issues.
Regular sessions of the Council of Heads of State are held once a year in member states alternately according to the Russian alphabetical order of the country names.The host country of the session of the Council of Heads of State assumes the rotating presidency of the organization.Uzbekistanis the current state of presidency.
2.Council of Heads of Government.Its main functions are: to adopt SCO budgets; to study and determine the principal matters of cooperation in specific areas within the SCO framework, especially in the economic field.Regular sessions of the Council of Heads of Government are held once a year.
3.Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.Its main functions are: to study and resolve major issues of current SCO activities, including preparing for the meeting of the Council of Heads of State, implementing SCO decisions, and holding consultations on international issues.Regular sessions of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs are arranged to take place one month before the regular meeting of the Council of Heads of State.The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the host country of the meeting of the Council of Heads of State serves as chairman of the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and may conduct external relations on behalf of the SCO.
4.Conference of Heads of Agencies.Its main function is to study and resolve specific questions of cooperation in specialized areas.At present, the meeting mechanism has been established for attorneys general (procurators general), and ministers of defense, the economy, commerce, transportation and culture as well as heads of law-enforcement, security, emergency and disaster-relief agencies.
5.Council of National Coordinators.It is a coordinator and management organ of SCO routine activities.It meets at least three times a year.Its chairman is the National Coordinator of the host country of the meeting of the Council of Heads of State and may represent the SCO externally subject to authorization by the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
6.Secretariat.As SCO's standing executive organ, the Secretariat is based inBeijingand will be officially launched in January 2004.Its main functions are: to provide organizational and technical support for SCO activities, to participate in the study and implementation of SCO documents, and to put forward suggestions for SCO annual budget-making.The Executive Secretary is appointed by the Council of Heads of State.Member states take turns according to the Russian alphabetical order of their country names to serve a non-consecutive three-year term.The first Executive Secretary is Mr. Zhang Deguang (Chinese citizen).
7.Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS).This is a SCO permanent organ based inTashkent, capital ofUzbekistan.It will be officially launched in January 2004.Its main function is to coordinate SCO member activities against terrorism, separatism and extremism.The RATS is composed of the Council and the Executive Committee.The Council, a decision-making and leading body of RATS, is composed of leading officials of the competent authorities of the member states.Director of the Executive Committee, which is RATS' routine executive body, is appointed by the Council of Heads of State.The first director of the Executive Committee is Casymov. V. T. (Uzbekistani citizen).
IV.SCO Cooperation in Various Areas
At present, SCO cooperation has covered wide-ranging areas such as security, the economy, transportation, culture, disaster relief and law enforcement, with security and economic cooperation being the priorities.
1.Security cooperation.SCO security cooperation focuses on the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism.The SCO was among the first international organizations to advocate explicitly the fight against the three evil forces.On15 June 2001, the day when the SCO was founded, theShanghaiConvention Against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremismwas signed, clearly defining terrorism, separatism and extremism for the first time on the international arena.It outlined specific directions, modalities and principles of the concerted fight against the three evil forces, thus helping to lay a solid legal foundation for SCO security cooperation.At the June 2002St. PetersburgSummit, theAgreement of the SCO Member States on Counter-Terrorism Regional Structurewas signed.Chinaand Kyrgystan conducted a bilateral joint anti-terrorism military exercise within the SCO framework in October 2002, and the SCO member states held a successful multilateral joint anti-terrorism military maneuver in August 2003.The SCO has also decided toset up an anti-narcotic drugs cooperative mechanismas soon as possible, and talks on relevant documents are actively under way.
2.Economic cooperation.Economic cooperation is a key area of cooperation for the SCO and serves as the material foundation and guarantee for SCO's smooth development.Heads of government of the six member states held the first meeting in Alma-Ata on 14 September 2001 to discuss regional economic cooperation and signed theMemorandumBetween the Governments of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the Basic Objectives and Orientation of Regional Economic Cooperation and the Launching of a Process of Trade and Investment Facilitation.The year 2002 saw the establishment of mechanisms for economic and trade as well as transportation ministerial meetings successively as initial attempts to explore avenues of substantive cooperation in trade, investment, transportation, energy and other areas.The SCO heads of government met in Beijing for a second time on 23 September 2003 and adopted a plan for multilateral economic and trade cooperation of the SCO member states, in which priority areas, main tasks and implementation mechanism of economic-trade cooperation between the six SCO member states were identified.This laid an important foundation for economic cooperation among the six member states for a fairly long time to come.
V.SCO External Relations
The purposes, potentials and smooth development of the SCO have attracted worldwide attention.An increasing number of countries and international organizations have proposed to establish contacts and cooperation with the SCO.The organization follows a principle of openness and is ready to conduct dialogue, exchanges and cooperation in all forms with other nations and international organizations.
The SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in November 2002 adoptedtheInterim Scheme of Relations Between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Other International Organizations and States, formally initiating SCO external relations.The Scheme provides that other countries and international organizations may be invited to attend as guests the meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic consultations, and the SCO, likewise, may send representatives to attend activities of other international organizations.To date, SCO representatives have attended several meetings such as the Special Session of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council in March 2003, the Meeting of the OSCE Partners for Cooperation in Vienna in April, the Fifth High-Level Meeting Between the United Nations and Regional Organizations in New York in July, and the OSCE Conference on Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Lisbon in September 2003.
VI.SCO EmblemThe SCO emblem is a round symbol composed mainly of a map of the six member states, with olive branches and two ribbons encircling it from both left and right.It symbolizes the impetus the member states give to regional and world peace and development, and implies the magnitude of its cooperation scope and growth potentials.The upper and lower parts of the emblem are marked "Shanghai Cooperation Organization" in Chinese and Russian respectively.The green and blue colors are chosen to embody its purposes of peace, friendship, progress and development.