Chart of the Day: What is the SCO?
Updated 11:26, 15-Sep-2022

The 2022 annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Council will be held on Thursday and Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, the establishment of which was announced on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai by the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the mechanism of The Shanghai Five.

According to the SCO official website, the main goals of the SCO are: strengthening confidence and good-neighborly relations among the member countries; promoting effective cooperation in a wide range of fields as well as making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.

In terms of geographic scope and population, the SCO is the world's largest regional organization, covering approximately 60 percent of the land area of Eurasia, 25 percent of the world's total, and 41 percent of the world's population. SCO members also have significant economic weight, accounting for 24 percent of global GDP in 2021. 

With the accession of India and Pakistan, the SCO has become the most comprehensive regional organization with the largest population, the most extensive geographical area, and huge potential, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in 2018.

Currently, eight countries enjoy the status of full SCO membership: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India; four countries – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia – have observer status with the SCO; and six countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Türkiye, and Sri Lanka – have dialogue partner status. 

The decisions to begin the procedures for Iran's accession to full SCO membership and the procedures for Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia's accessions to dialogue partners were made at the 2021 summit of the SCO Heads of State Council in Dushanbe. 

"The SCO member countries should uphold the Shanghai Spirit, work together and help each other to build a closer SCO community with a shared future," said Wang Yi, Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, at a meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Tashkent in July.

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