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Key Takeaways from SCO Summit

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July 13, 2023

Why in news?

India hosts 23rd SCO summit in New Delhi for the year 2023.

What is Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?

  • It is a Eurasian political, economic, international security and defence organization established in 2001.
  • It is basically an extension of the Shanghai Five Group (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan) that was created in 1996.
  • At a historic summit in Astana, Kazakhstan (2017) India and Pakistan become full-fledged members of SCO.
  • India’s decision to become a full member of the SCO is in line with its current policy of multi-alignment and maintaining its strategic autonomy.
  • Headquarters-  Beijing(China)
  • Since its inception, the SCO has mainly focused on
    • Regional security issues
    • Regional terrorism
    • Ethnic separatism
    • Religious extremism
    • Regional development

SCO 2023

  • Member Countries- 9 members- Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, and Iran (latest member).
  • Significance- The SCO is the world’s largest regional organisation consisting of 40% of the world’s population and 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

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What is the 23rd SCO Summit about?

  • The 23rd SCO meeting of the council of heads of the member states was held virtually.
  • This is the first time India holds the presidency of the SCO summit.
  • Theme - SECURE- Security, Economic development, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Environmental protection.
  • India has created 5 new pillars and focus areas of cooperation in SCO –
    1. Startups and Innovation
    2. Traditional Medicine
    3. Digital Inclusion
    4. Youth Empowerment
    5. Shared Buddhist Heritage
  • 24th SCO chair is Kazakhstan and the summit is to take place in Astana.

What are the key takeaways from the 23rd SCO Summit?

  • New Entrant- Iran now become the full member of SCO which would help in achieving collective security and sustainable development.
  • New Delhi Declaration- It deals extensively with challenge of terrorism, extremism and separatism and calls for country cooperation.
  • It reaffirms its commitment to disrupt the terror financing channels, to suppress recruitment activities and cross-border movement of terrorists.
  •  India’s new Initiatives- To foster the engagement with member countries India launched new initiatives like
  • SCO Millet Food Festival,
  • Film Festival,
  • SCO Surajkund Craft Mela,
  • International Conference on Shared Buddhist Heritage etc.,
  • De-Dollarization- Countries spoke about the reducing the dominance of dollar in global markets.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - India refused to accept BRI as it is essential to “respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of member countries of the SCO.
  • Issue of Afghanistan- India urged SCO members to come together to extend humanitarian assistance to Afghan citizens.
  • Inclusion of English - India wants the inclusion of English as an official language besides Russian and Chinese to help disseminate SCO’s views to a wider audience.
  • Joint statements- Joint statements were released on
    • Cooperation in countering the radicalisation leading to separatism, extremism and terrorism
    • Cooperation in the field of digital transformation

What is the significance of India’s Chairmanship in the SCO?

  • Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - India reiterated its motto “The Whole World is a Family”, its ultimate goal is global peace and security.
  • New Delhi declaration- It pays special attention to religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination etc., 
  • This would keep check on terrorism activities by Pakistan.
  • Soft power- Varanasi is designated as the first tourism and cultural capital of the SCO.
  • Strategic autonomy- India refused to accept china’s BRI and SCO Economic Development Strategy.
  • Geopolitical advantage- With Iran as a full member SCO India can deepen its relation and Russia would moderate the stance with China, this would promote regional peace and security.
  • It promotes political settlement of international and regional hotspot issues, and build a solid barrier for regional security.

References

  1. Indian Express| Key takeaways from SCO
  2. Indian Express| China view on SCO summit
  3. Economic Times| Kazakhstan SCO summit
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