The 2018 Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit will be held on June 9-10 in Qingdao, China. But, what is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?
Also known as SCO, the organization was set up in 2001 in, you guessed it, Shanghai, China. This makes it the only international organization named after a Chinese city.
SCO is now based in Beijing and counts eight members: China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
There are also four observer states: Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, and six so-called “dialogue partners”: Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The organization’s main goal is to boost regional cooperation. More specifically, this means:
– Strengthening mutual trust and neighborly relations between member states
– Promoting cooperation in politics, trade, economy, science, technology and culture, but also education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas
– Working together to ensure peace, security and stability in the region
– Achieving a democratic and fair international political and economic order
– Key objectives also include combating terrorism and drug trafficking. One long-term goal is to establish a free trade zone between its member states
SCO heads of state and SCO heads of government meet separately once a year for a summit. But there are also meetings at all other levels of government. For example:
– Parliamentary leaders
– Chief prosecutors and supreme court chiefs
– Heads of law enforcement agencies and ministers
– Foreign affairs, defense and economy, transportation, culture and education
Another area that SCO is actively engaged in is election monitoring. Over the past year, an SCO observer mission was sent to monitor presidential elections in Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as a general election in Turkmenistan.
SCO also works closely with other international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
SCO strives to play a significant role on the global stage with just eight members, making up 42 percent of the world’s population and covering a quarter of its surface.