Under Russia’s SCO Chairmanship 2019-20, The Summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is scheduled to be held on November 10 as a video conference due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The SCO leaders will deliberate the strengthening and further Development of cooperation within the SCO framework, including in the perspective of the global political and socioeconomic concerns of the COVID-19 Pandemic, rapidly changing geopolitics, especially Sino-US tension, The US Presidential Elections, and the signing of US-India Defense agreements.
It will provide an opportunity to promote the SCO member states’ functional interaction in politics, security, trade, economy, cultural and humanitarian ties, and political dialogue, above all, in the interests of stability in the SCO space. Member states may enhance their countries’ trade and economic collaboration and coordination at the Summit.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a regional international assembly comprising Russia, India, China, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Belarus have observer status, while Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey have the status of SCO dialogue partners.
The outbreak of Coronavirus has created new challenges, which were never faced in history. Unlike previous pandemics, COVID-19 is highly contagious, and special care is required to control the virus’s spread. Keeping social distance is the primary preventive measure and the use of Masks and frequent use of sanitizers. Social space led toward lockdown, which has created substantial economic disturbances, and the whole world has become a victim.
SCO countries are no exception and became the victim of the outbreak; the Summit will provide an opportunity to formulate a joint strategy or policy to overcome the challenges created due to the Pandemic. SCO may strengthen cooperation and share experiences.
Although the SCO was created to promote peace, stability, and security initially, but later on expanded its scope to include trade, Science & Technology, Culture, people to people contacts, etc., there were some achievements. However, still, some disputes remain unresolved like India-China, India-Pakistan, etc. It is believed that The Summit of the Council of Heads of State of the SCOeved that the upcoming Summit will discuss various options to resolve the conflicts among member countries and promote solid grounds for regional security.
Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) is the Chinese mega initiative; it is a module of Development and prosperity. BRI is to develop infrastructures, promote the economy, and enhance people to people interactions. SCO is a plate form of cooperation and collaboration and may benefit from BRI initiatives. It is worth mentioning that all SCO member states have joined BRI, except India, and India is the only member country having disputes with other member states like China and Pakistan. India is the only country in SCO, having signed defense agreements with the US. Indian role in SCO may create doubts, as keeping American Interests while sitting in SCO may not be possible. SCO member states also have shown their concerns that all inside discussions may reach Americans through India. India might feel uncomfortable while sitting with SCO member states, as it is a direct conflict of interests.
The world is passing through the worst crisis, and there is no one single country that can face all complex challenges. There is a dire need to promote multilateralism. It is time to resolve all the complicated issues collectively. The most precious thing in this universe is humankind; we must protect humanity through collective efforts. Multilateralism is the only possible route for success. SCO may opt for multilateralism to overcome some of the severe challenges faced. SCO is a platform to resolve issues at the regional level and safeguard against any outside challenges. Unity, harmony, and cooperation among all SCO member states are much more in need of time than ever.