The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s latest joint statement is a statement on the challenges facing the world
India successfully chaired the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit despite many diplomatic challenges, including holding a virtual summit due to current circumstances.
Relations between SCO member states have their share of bilateral difficulties and tensions. SCO members had to approach them, either to set them aside or to find intermediate formulations in order to achieve a broad understanding of regional and international issues of common concern. The New Delhi Declaration, adopted at the end of the summit, best meets this challenge.
It is a compromise document, because being a member of an organization does not mean agreement on all the issues before it, nor the same interpretation of the issues even if an agreed text gives the appearance of consensus. Even where there is broad agreement in principle, in practice member states pursue the logic of their national interest or regional geopolitical considerations.
For example, SCO members reaffirm their firm commitment to combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, and express their determination to disrupt terrorism financing channels, suppress recruitment activities and cross-border movement of terrorists, etc. But in practice, within the SCO space, cross-border terrorism continues, terrorist organizations survive, radicalization takes place, safe havens are provided, and the list of known UN terrorists is repeatedly blocked. . The New Delhi Declaration, unfortunately, evades the last question by stating that “Subject to their national laws and on the basis of consensus, Member States will seek to develop common principles and approaches to form a unified list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organizations whose activities are prohibited in the territories of the SCO Member States.”
The New Delhi Declaration rightly recognizes that the world is undergoing unprecedented transformations that require increased efficiency of global institutions, stronger multipolarity, increased interconnectedness and interdependence, and an accelerated pace of digitalization. It expressly confirms the Member States’ commitment to building a more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, global and sustainable security, cultural and civilizational diversity, with a central coordinating role. of ONU.
The document expresses concernon the state of the global economy, the continued turmoil in global financial markets, the global reduction in investment flows, the instability of supply chains, the increase in protectionist measures, food security concerns and energy, the growing technological and digital divide, and calls for a fairer approach and effective international cooperation.
Western concerns that the SCO is essentially anti-Western in design and seeks to build alternative political, security and economic structures are dismissed in the Declaration which reaffirms that the SCO is not directed against other States and international organizations. What he rejects are bloc, ideological and confrontational approaches.
This sends the message that the SCO seeks a reformed international system, not an alternative system, that it still believes in interdependence but in a multipolar format and not dominated by historically preeminent powers. But then the issue of UN reform and the enlargement of the UN Security Council to make it more representative is not mentioned (China and Pakistan oppose the candidacy of the India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council although Russia and Central Asian states support it). This contrasts with the document’s call for greater efficiency and inclusive reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
While the West raises the issues of democracies versus autocracies, the Declaration advocates respect for the right of peoples to independent and democratic choice of the paths of their political and socio-economic development. But its insistence on the principles of mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force or the threat to use force being the basis of international relations is in contradiction with the actual practice of some SCO Member States. This also applies to the reaffirmation in the Declaration of the commitment of SCO member states to the peaceful resolution of disagreements and differences between countries through dialogue and consultation.
The issue of Internet governance is controversial, as it has many implications – political, economic, security, social, etc. to manage it in their national segment. Actual practice in SCO states regarding national control over the Internet varies.
India, not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has not, as before, subscribed to the paragraphs of the Declaration on proliferation issues. Similarly, India has excluded itself from the support expressed for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the other members of the SCO who have also spoken out in favor of the implementation of the roadmap for gradual increases in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements by interested Member States. This is a rather discreet reference to a drop in the US dollar.
Russia’s concerns, shared by others, including India, are addressed in the paragraphs on the unilateral and unlimited expansion of global missile defense systems by certain countries or groups of countries, which has a negative impact on international security and stability. In addition, there is a call for full compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) and transitional divisions within the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure its integrity and operational effectiveness (Russia has problems with the functioning of the OPCW).
China’s favorite mantra for cooperation in building a new type of international relations as well as forming a common vision of building a community for the common destiny of mankind is embodied in the Declaration. . The reference to reliable, resilient and diverse supply chains is also an issue that India flags in various international forums due to the experience of the Covid-19 crisis and the concentration of critical raw materials and supply chains. of supply in a single geography.
Early settlement of the situation in Afghanistan is considered one of the most important factors in maintaining and strengthening security and stability in the SCO region. The Declaration considers it essential to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of representatives of all ethnic, religious and political groups in Afghan society. The issue of formal recognition of the Taliban regime is not addressed.
The Declaration rightly points out that the unilateral application of economic sanctions other than those approved by the United Nations Security Council is incompatible with the principles of international law and has a negative impact on third countries and international economic relations.
Overall, the New Delhi Declaration is abalanced, pragmatic and non-rhetorical document that sets out the challenges facing the world and how they should be addressed in principle and in practice.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.