General Studies Paper 2 (International Relations)
Question:- 21. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is bound to become the torchbearer of geopolitical liberty, freedom and peace for the 21st century. Comment. Answer in 150 words.
Jul 21, 2022


Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is of great significance to promoting peace and security, prosperity and development in Central Asia, Eurasia and the world at large. The expanded SCO “has become the largest regional institution in the world, which covers 60% of the Eurasian continent and has a population of over 3.2 billion, with the GDP of its member states accounting for about a quarter of the global total.” It boosts cooperation with observer states and dialog partners and communicates closely with the United Nations and international and regional organizations to build a multi-dimensional network.



  1. In 2002, the group formally defined their main purpose to be regional security cooperation and their first proactive step was  to  establish  a  100  kilometer  zone  of  “reduced  military  activity”  surrounding  member’s  shared  This has turned into greater security and stability in Central Asian region.
  2. Growth of trade’s scale and establishment of cooperation mechanism – Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the optimal development of India’s relations with Central Asian countries has been constrained severely. – materializing of Business Council, Interbank Association, progress in finance , transportation, customs and technology.
  3. RATS: The Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) was formally launched and members made the joint declaration to fight terrorism , drug trafficking and organized crime and strengthen economic ties. The members conduct joint military exercises regularly (Exercise Peaceful Mission)
  4. SCO stands as a cooperative organization: This has been made clearer with inclusion of Iran in SCO. The significance of this round of expansion is that it shows SCO’s rising international influence and that the principles of the SCO charter are widely accepted.




However, the SCO still faces many challenges like eliminating religious extremism, ethnic separatism and international terrorism; improving trust and cohesion among members; better managing relations with external parties etc. Some see it as a “paper tiger” while others describe it with suspicion as a counterweight to NATO. The lack of a common culture and shared peaceful history among the members acts as an impediment to the success of SCO. SCO has come up with the idea of “Cultural and Tourism Capital” and the title will be rotated among the member states (Varansi being first).

Addressing these challenges can go a long way in strengthening SCO and its mandate. In times to come, SCO has the potential to become the voice of its member countries, protecting their interests at the global level, hence, standing as the torchbearer of geopolitical liberty, peace and freedom on the other.