SCO ensuring regional peace and stability

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Current global trends, such as increased geopolitical tensions and the complex nature of threats and challenges, require a collective effort to create a fairer and more polycentric model of the world order. The experience of developing relations within the SCO, taking into account the big difference in mentality and views of peoples, is a fairly effective model of interaction between states in the international arena

Vladimir Norov

SPECIAL FOR DAILY ISLAMABAD POST

Every year on 21 September, the international community celebrates the International Day of Peace. This Day was declared by the UN General Assembly as a day of strengthening the ideals of peace among all countries and peoples, both nationally and internationally.

In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly declared Peace Day and marked it on the third Tuesday in September, and 20 years later, in 2001, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution decreed that, since 2002, the International Day of Peace would be celebrated annually on 21 September as a day of universal ceasefire and non-violence.

The UN urges all countries to cease hostilities on this day and to celebrate it with educational and public information actions on peace issues.

  1. In connection with the celebration of the International Day of Peace, the SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov shared his vision for peace and stability, as well as the SCO’s policy in this direction.

Every year, Peace Day is dedicated to a specific theme. Thus, in different years it was held under the mottos: “Human Rights and Peacekeeping”, “Disarmament and non-proliferation”, “Youth for peace and development”, “Sustainable Development Goals: Components of peace”, “Right to Peace: 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “Fighting ClimateChange for Peace, and others.

The motto of this year’s International Day, “Achieving Peace Together” reflects the goal of the UN. Throughout this year, the UN, to mark its 75thanniversary, has asked people to participate in a global debate to jointly address the serious challenges of our time.

  1. The modern world continues to change rapidly, the global balance of power is being actively redistributed, and the interconnectedness and interdependence between the participants in international relations are deepening. The desire for peace, development, equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation, and the formation of a community of universal peace and prosperity are becoming increasingly important. However, the situation in global politics and the economy remains turbulent and tense, and economic globalization is facing an increase in unilateral protectionist measures and other challenges in international trade. New regional and local conflicts remain unresolved.

The relationship between the security and prosperity of states is growing. The nature of challenges and threats requires collective approaches to combating them, as well as an awareness of the impossibility of ensuring one’s own security at the expense of others. In these circumstances, it is imperative that all states adhere to the universal principles of equal and indivisible security – equally applicable to the Euro-Atlantic, Eurasian and Asia-Pacific territories.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established 19 years ago, acts as an influential and responsible participant in the modern system of international relations, increasing its participation in efforts to ensure peace and security, consistently advocating for the resolution of international and regional conflicts exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means, based on the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, the renunciation of the use of force or the threat of its use.

Current global trends, such as increased geopolitical tensions and the complex nature of threats and challenges, require a collective effort to create a fairer and more polycentric model of the world order. The experience of developing relations within the SCO, taking into account the big difference in mentality and views of peoples, is a fairly effective model of interaction between states in the international arena. The SCO countries are actually demonstrating how it is possible to build cooperation without sacrificing sovereignty, not contrary to national interests and not opposing these relations to other priorities of foreign politicians.

Following Shanghai Spirit, which embodies the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for multiculturalism, Member States are working together to actively promote a just international political and economic order.

The SCO acts as a reliable platform for fruitful cooperation in the interests of forming a polycentric world order, ensuring the supremacy of international law, first of all the UN Charter, equal, joint, undivided, comprehensive and sustainable security, implementation of the Agenda for Sustainable Development until 2030, respect for the people’s own choice of the path of their political and socio-economic development, ensuring the interests of all and each state. Member States emphasize the importance of the initiative to promote cooperation in building a new type of international relations based on the principles and norms of international law, first of all mutual respect, justice, equality, mutually beneficial cooperation, and the formation of a common vision of the idea of creating a community of the common destiny of mankind.

Member States reaffirm their strong support for the UN’s efforts as a universal multilateral organization to maintain international peace and security, promote global development, promote and protect human rights. They are in favour of strengthening the key role of the UN Security Council, which, under the UN Charter, has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

The founding documents of the SCO clearly outline the desires of Member States to contribute as much as possible to the strengthening of peace, security and stability in the region in the context of the development of political multipolarity, economic and information globalization.

In particular, the SCO Charter of 2002 enshrines as the main goals and objectives of the Organization – the development of multidisciplinary cooperation to maintain and strengthen peace, security and stability in the region, and to help build a new democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.

The 2007 Treaty on Long-Term Neighbourhood, Friendship and Cooperation among SCO Member States stipulates that the SCO countries will work to maintain and strengthen international peace and security, strengthen coordination and cooperation in areas such as protecting and enhancing the role of the UN, and maintaining global and regional stability. The document also notes that Member States will seek to actively strengthen cooperation to turn common borders into borders of peace and friendship.

The SCO’s Development Strategy until 2025, which was approved by the Heads of State in 2015, states that the member states will concentrate their efforts on creating a region of peace, stable development, economic growth and progress, mutual trust, good neighbourliness, friendship and prosperity in the SCO space.

In order to implement the provisions of this Strategy, the SCO countries approved the 2016 Action Plan for 2016-2020, which includes 75 practical activities in various fields. With the success of virtually all activities, Member States have begun to develop a new Plan for the next five years. The document is planned to be approved at the upcoming SCO summit. The draft of the new Plan has already included more than 150 activities, which confirms the expansion of the spheres of cooperation of SCO member states aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region.

  1. In ensuring peace and security in the region, Member States are focusing on countering international terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking, organized crime, cybercrime, and other cross-border challenges and threats.

Mechanisms for law enforcement cooperation at the level of heads of ministries and departments, senior officials and experts have been established and are functioning effectively. In order to counter the threats of terrorism, anti-terrorist military exercises “Peace Mission” are regularly conducted, as well as joint exercises to detect and stop the use of the Internet for terrorist and separatist purposes. International information security and the fight against crimes using information and communication technologies are also high on the Organization’s agenda.

At the same time, it should be noted that the SCO is not a military and political bloc and does not seek to become an economic integrated community over national governments. Its activities are not directed against other states and international organizations and associations. The security and stability mechanisms developed within the organization and the regulatory framework for mutually trust-based cooperation ensure, despite the growing challenges and threats, sustainable stability in the SCO region.

The SCO countries also work together on disarmament, nuclear and non-proliferation and arms control, peaceful use of nuclear energy, and political and diplomatic responses to global and regional challenges to the non-proliferation regime. In this context, they believe that the early entry into force of the Protocol on Security Guarantees to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in Central Asia will make a significant contribution to the consolidation of peace and security in the region.

Member States believe that one of the most important factors in preserving and consolidating peace and stability in the SCO space is the early resolution of the situation in Afghanistan. They support the efforts of the Afghan Government and people to restore peace, economic development, countering terrorism and drug crime. Member States emphasize the non-alternative resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan through political dialogue and the implementation of an inclusive peace process by the Afghans themselves and under the leadership of the Afghans themselves.

In this context, the SCO welcomed the launch of inclusive negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban Movement in the country and expressed the hope that the inter-Afghan dialogue would continue to develop, taking into account the interests of all the country’s social, political, ethnic and religious groups in order to restore it sustainable peace. Cooperation within the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group is also important in resolving the Afghan issue.

In dealing with the challenges and threats of our time, the SCO is actively cooperating with international and regional organizations. Partnerships have been established with the UN and its specialized institutions, such as UNODC, UN and UN, as well as the CSTO, CIS, CICA and ASEAN. High-level thematic joint events aimed at combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are regularly held.

  1. This year, it became clear that in addition to warriors and conflicts, there is a much larger threat: a new type of coronavirus infection that threatens the health, safety and way of life of all humanity. In March this year, UN Secretary-General A. Guterres called on all warring parties to lay down their arms and focus on fighting this unprecedented global pandemic.

The pandemic has demonstrated the close interconnectedness of the world. However, instead of solidarity and common struggle against the threat, peace has moved from globalization to localization, and international solidarity has given way to the national interests of each country. This has a negative effect on the containment of coronavirus. The most important task is to overcome the global confrontation and politicization around the pandemic. The world community needs to realize that the pandemic is by no means the latest test on a global scale. All countries of the world must work together on the principles of mutual support and joint development.

In these difficult circumstances, SCO countries have demonstrated a high level of solidarity and mutual support in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, and the Organization itself has established itself as an effective platform for countering today’s challenges and security threats during the pandemic. The SCO’s efforts have received authoritative international recognition, in particular from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and the Arab League.

During the pandemic, the SCO has gained invaluable experience working together to contain and minimize its negative effects. In this regard, the decision of the SCO Health Ministers to approve the Review of Advanced Measures to Counter the Spread of Infection was important.

The fight against the spread of the new coronavirus infection required a decisive multilateral effort, with the central role of the UN system, effective interaction of SCO member states with the World Health Organization, and other international associations.

At the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow on September 10, 2020, the parties stated that in the face of the difficult sanitary and epidemiological situation, the SCO, based on the principles of the “Shanghai spirit”, convincingly confirmed its significant potential as an effective platform for responding to emerging challenges, building work to overcome the political, social and commercial and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foreign ministers approved the drafts of the Comprehensive Plan to counter the threats of epidemics in the SCO space, as well as the SCO Statements on Joint Countering the New Coronavirus Infection, which will be submitted for approval by the leaders of the member states at the SCO summit, scheduled for November this year in the format of a video conference.

During the upcoming meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State, it is planned to consider the priorities to further strengthen peace and stability, deepen cooperation within the SCO in the context of the global political and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection. The SCO summit will be the main event that culminates in Russia’s Presidency of the Organization, which will result in the adoption and signing of a number of important documents, setting priorities and long-term development objectives of the Organization.

Member States expect that the upcoming summit will provide new opportunities for effectively addressing global problems, reducing security risks, and enhancing the SCO’s capacity to advance the principles of multilateralism and new-type international relations.

  1. The key to prosperity, peace and security is undoubtedly stable economic cooperation. Work in this direction contributes to the socio-economic well-being of Member States, as well as to the improvement of the living conditions of citizens.

As noted in the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, economic cooperation is an important element in ensuring stability in the SCO space, one of the tools to achieve the sustainability of the Organization itself for the long term. The SCO will contribute to the harmonious development of all member states of the association in order to balance economic growth in the region

Today, the SCO space is characterized by a capacious consumer market, rich natural resources, as well as advanced production capacity, and is promising in terms of implementing large cross-border projects and new ideas, as it is characterized by stability, dynamic development and constantly emerging new opportunities.

Expanding and deepening cooperation in financial, investment, industrial, transport, energy, agriculture and other areas is in the interest of sustainable economic growth in the region. The Organization is becoming a powerful trans-regional structure, being the optimal format for docking national strategies, cross-border projects and multilateral integration initiatives.

All of this represents a great potential for the growth of trade, economic and innovative cooperation, which is based on the well-being of the peoples of the countries of the Organization.

  1. The development of intercultural and inter-civilization dialogue, strengthening ties in educational, scientific and technical and humanitarian areas contribute to strengthening relations between good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation within the SCO.

The SCO countries attach importance to strengthening cultural ties and understanding among peoples, respecting the cultural traditions and customs of Member States, preserving and promoting multiculturalism, and exploring and preserving the cultural and natural heritage of the region.

A great deal of attention is paid to the development and spiritual education of the younger generation, first of all, through accessible, high-quality, innovative education, allowing to fully realize the potential of the individual. In this case, the SCO University, which brings together the leading universities of the SCO member states and observer countries, has a special role to play.

In addition, Member States are taking effective preventive measures to protect young people from various destructive ideas by enabling them to receive modern education and skills, engage in entrepreneurship and innovate.

In this context, it is important to consistently implement the Joint Appeal of SCO Heads of State to Youth and the Programme of Action to implement its provisions (Tsingtao, 10 June 2018), with a particular focus on preventing the spread of religious intolerance, xenophobia and racial discrimination.

These efforts confirm once again that the SCO member states, as multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies, have an interest in ensuring an internal inter-ethnic and inter-religious world, as well as in strengthening centuries-old traditions of harmonious coexistence between different nationalities and religions.

The success of the SCO shows that the Organization is a major factor in ensuring regional peace and stability and shared prosperity of Member States. It is one of the most promising security systems on the Asian continent, as it represents a new system of inter-State relations.

The SCO is open to cooperation with all countries and international organizations to ensure peace and stability, strengthen international and regional security, and develop sustainable socio-economic development, and expand cultural and humanitarian ties.

The writer is the Secretary-General of SCO