SCO – Members, Objectives, Countries, Headquarters, SCO UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a regional intergovernmental Organisation founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. SCO was initially formed to address common security threats, but it has since expanded its focus to include economic, cultural, and humanitarian cooperation among its member states. SCO is a permanent international intergovernmental Organisation that covers 40% of the global population, nearly 20% of the global GDP, and 22% of the world’s landmass.

SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and military Organisation aiming to maintain peace, security, and stability in the region. Iran is the ninth and the newest member of SCO. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is seen as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).  This article cover notes on SCO that are aligned with the UPSC Syllabus, and highlights crucial information related to SCO’s aims, objectives, members, and the recent SCO summit which would be immensely beneficial for the aspirants.

What is SCO?

SCO Full Form is Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was announced in June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan, The Russian Federation, and the Republic of Tajikistan. Russian and Chinese are the two official languages of SCO, and it has two Permanent Bodies namely, the SCO Secretariat in Beijing,  and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent.


In the historical meeting of the Heads of State Council of the SCO held in June 2017 in Astana, the status of a full member of the Organisation was granted to the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in this meeting. The Chairmanship of SCO is by rotation for a year among member states.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Highlights

SCO Full Form Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
SCO Headquarters Beijing, China
SCO Member Countries China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are Shanghai Five. After Uzbekistan, it became SCO, India, and Pakistan became members in 2017, and Iran was added to SCO in 2021
SCO Establishment Year 2001

SCO Members 2022

In 2022, the SCO celebrated its 21st anniversary, and its members are working together on a range of issues, including regional security, economic development, and cultural exchange. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has 9 member states as follows.

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Kazakhstan
  4. Kyrgyzstan
  5. Russia
  6. Pakistan
  7. Tajikistan
  8. Uzbekistan
  9. Iran

There are 3 Observer States interested in acceding to full membership:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Belarus
  3. Mongolia

There are 6 Dialogue Partners:

  1. Armenia
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Cambodia
  4. Nepal
  5. Sri Lanka
  6. Turkey

Iran’s Inclusion in SCO – Future Aspects

The benefits of SCO membership are potentially significant for Iran. Due to its geopolitical location and energy resources, Iran could become an important trading partner and will certainly work to forge even closer ties with other member states.

  • Iran’s membership could bring economic benefits to the country and promote cooperation in the energy sector. Iran could serve as an important supplier of energy, especially with China which could be very useful due to the sanctions imposed on the country.
  • Iran’s membership in the SCO could also make the country less vulnerable to Western sanctions, making it more difficult to increase pressure on Iran in future nuclear or other diplomatic talks.
  • Iran’s membership could enable it to negotiate from a position of greater strength in the future as the country becomes less isolated.

SCO Summit 2020

India took the Chairmanship of the Council of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of SCO(RATS-SCO) in 2021 for a period of one year. The 19th Summit of SCO was hosted by India on 30th November 2020.

  • It was the first time India hosted the SCO Summit since it became a member of the group in 2017. It was a virtual summit (Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted this summit).
  • India became the chairperson of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on 2nd November 2019 and completed its chairmanship tenure with the onset of this summit on 30th November 2020.
  • India focused on three pillars – Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology, and Traditional Medicine.
  • India also emphasized strengthening trade and economic growth and cultural cooperation.
  • Pakistan was represented by its Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the SCO Summit 2020.
  • At the 20th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government, India said that raising bilateral issues is counterproductive to the spirit of the SCO. This violates the well-established principles and norms of the SCO Charter.

Goals of SCO

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an outstanding example of regionalization and hybrid and new mixed model of interstate multifaceted cooperation. The SCO aims to fulfill the following goals:

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states;
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, rational, and fair new international economic and political order.
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure security, stability, and peace in the region;
  • To promote their effective cooperation in trade, politics, research, the economy, technology, and culture.
  • To boost the education system, transport, energy, environmental protection, tourism, and other areas;
  • The Organisation pursues its internal policy based on the principles of mutual benefit, mutual trust, mutual consultations, equality, respect for cultural diversity, and a desire for common development, while the external policy is conducted under the principles of non-targeting and non-alignment.

SCO Structure and Working

The supreme decision-making body in the SCO is the Heads of State Council (HSC). The HSC meets once a year and adopts guidelines and decisions on all important matters of the SCO.

  • The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the Organisation’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues.
  • The Organisation has two permanent bodies — First is the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent, and the second is the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing.
  • The Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS and SCO Secretary-General are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of 3 years.

Importance of SCO for India

The Central Asian region is richly endowed with vital minerals and natural resources. India also has a major interest in security, trade, geopolitical, and energy cooperation.

  • SCO membership has also helped India to be a major pain-Asian player, which was recently boxed in the South Asian Region. It is important for India’s stated policy of pursuing “multi-alignments”.
  • From the Indian perspective, SCO is extremely important as the security, strategic, economic, and geopolitical interests are closely intertwined with developments in this area.
  • The challenges of terrorism, radicalism, and instability pose a grave threat to Indian sovereignty and integrity.
  • A stable Afghanistan is in India’s interest, and RATS provides access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information.
  • With the landlocked states of Central Asia, accessing these resources becomes difficult. In this regard, India has prioritized the construction of International North-South Transport. Joining SCO will help India to connect Central Asia with South Asia.
  • Central Asia is part of India’s extended neighborhood. India’s international relations with countries in the region have enormous potential for enhancing ties in areas such as economy, security, policy, investment, trade, connectivity, energy, and capacity development.
  • After India’s membership in the SCO, it has provided an opportunity for the leadership of India, including prime ministers, to meet with their counterparts from Central Asia, Russia, China, Afghanistan, and others regularly and frequently.
  • India has demonstrated its keen interest in strengthening multi-faceted relations with Central Asia through the Prime Minister’s historic visit to the five Central Asian Republics in July 2015. Several agreements were signed, and new initiatives were launched.
  • The TAPI gas pipeline is an example of a mutually beneficial project.
  • In the future, India’s development experience, particularly in promoting agriculture, small and medium enterprises, pharmaceuticals, and information technology, can be of immense benefit to Central Asian countries.

Aims and Objectives of SCO

SCO has become a vital platform for regional cooperation in the fields of politics, security, economic growth, and culture. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has the following aims and objectives:

  • SCO aims to strengthen the relations between member states by deepening political, security, and economic cooperation.
  • To strive for joint cooperation between the members to confront threats emanating from terrorism, extremism, and separatism.
  • SCO also aims to move towards developing a democratic and equitable international political order.
  • To ensure joint efforts in maintaining peace, security, and stability in the region.
  • To deepen engagements in the field of trade/commerce, transport, tourism, environment, cultural linkages, education, research, and technology.

What is Shanghai Spirit?

It is the core value of SCO. As the undergirding values and guidelines for the SCO, it features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity, and the pursuit of common development.

Challenges to SCO

The SCO mechanism provides an important guarantee for its multilateral cooperation ahead. Though, the challenges lie ahead, which are:

  • The intensification of the great power game in the region. It includes combating terrorism, extremism, separatism, drug and weapons trafficking, illegal immigration, etc.
  • The weakness of the sense of community between its member states
  • The transformation of the cooperation pattern faces after expansion. Despite being geographically close, the rich diversity in members’ history, backgrounds, language, national interests, form of government, wealth, and culture makes the SCO decision-making challenging.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) topic finds its relevance in the Important International Institutions sections of the Civil Services Exam syllabus, especially in General Studies Paper 2. For comprehensive preparation, one must read the NCERT Books along with some advanced books to form a solid foundation. Post this, the aspirant should move further with the International Relations Books for UPSC to get a detailed knowledge of the topic. After completion of the required books, it is strongly suggested to make hand-written notes or take refer to online notes on SCO that would come in handy during the revision period.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation MCQ

Question 1: Which of the following countries is not a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? a) Russia b) China c) India d) Japan

Answer: d) Japan

Question 2: When was the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation established? a) 2000 b) 2001 c) 2002 d) 2003

Answer: b) 2001

Question 3: Which of the following is not an observer state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? a) Afghanistan b) Belarus c) Iran d) Mongolia

Answer: b) Belarus

Question 4: What is the main objective of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? a) Military cooperation b) Economic cooperation c) Cultural cooperation d) Environmental Cooperation.

Answer: b) Economic cooperation.

UPSC Notes
Goods and Services Tax Gaganyaan Mission
Delimitation Commission Indus River System
World Trade Organisation Indian State Of Forest Report
Minimum Support Price Tectonic Plates
National Disaster Management Authority Ganga River System
Causes of Poverty In India Jal Jeevan Mission
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium