Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Growing Global Footprint

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a strategic organization with a growing influence in global geopolitics. Established in 2001, it initially included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Over time, its influence has expanded to include India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Belarus, Mongolia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey as “Dialogue Partners.” The recent addition of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, further expands the SCO’s reach. The organization’s objectives include strengthening member relations, fostering cooperation, ensuring peace and security, and advocating for a “new, democratic, just, and rational political and economic international order.”

In the current geopolitical climate, the SCO’s role becomes increasingly pivotal, as its collective stance on key international issues could significantly sway global opinions and policies. The SCO’s influence extends beyond economic and demographic might, as its members’ strategic locations, natural resources, and military capabilities make it a key player in regional security dynamics.
The SCO’s joint security initiatives and counter-terrorism efforts contribute to regional peace and stability, while its emphasis on economic cooperation, particularly through the Belt and Road Initiative, fosters regional economic integration and development.

Kazakhstan’s upcoming chairmanship of the Security Council of the Islamic Republic (SCO) from July 2023 to July 2024 will significantly influence the organization’s trajectory, particularly in its multi-vector foreign policy. This approach involves engaging with multiple global powers and regional blocs simultaneously, avoiding over-reliance on any single entity while promoting national interests. This strategy allows Kazakhstan to maintain autonomy and flexibility in international affairs, opposing bloc and ideological approaches to security challenges.

Kazakhstan’s National Coordinator, Murat Mukushev, has outlined a vision for a balanced development across all areas of cooperation, including security, trade, economy, culture, and humanitarian efforts. The Central Asian country plans to use the SCO chairmanship to promote reforms, aiming to transform the group into a practical and effective platform. Kazakhstan’s plan to propose the adoption of “On Global Unity for a Just World and Harmony” is a strategic move, focusing on strengthening confidence-building measures and ensuring global security. Additionally, Kazakhstan’s initiative to establish the UN Regional Center for Sustainable Development Goals in Almaty, focusing on Central Asia and Afghanistan, may be an area of cooperation between the two sides.

The Security Council of the Middle East (SCO) under Kazakhstan’s chairmanship is set to focus on balanced development and practical cooperation, moving away from bloc or ideologically driven security dynamics. This shift could lead to more inclusive and diverse collaboration, addressing the diverse interests and concerns of its members. The SCO summit in Astana next year will provide insights into Kazakhstan’s leadership and multi-vector foreign policy approach shaping its strategies and responses to contemporary regional and global challenges. The SCO, with its expanding membership and ambitious goals, is at a critical juncture in its quest for global influence, requiring strategic positioning and collective strength.

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