The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) plans to prepare a single list of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups whose activities are banned on the territories of the member states, with an aim to counter the threat posed by them to the region. In a joint declaration issued at the end of the annual Summit of the eight-member bloc in the historic Uzbek city of Samarkand, the leaders of the SCO member states, strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“In accordance with their national laws and on the basis of consensus, the member states will strive to develop common principles and approaches to the formation of a single list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organisations whose activities are prohibited on the territories of the SCO member states,” said the Samarkand declaration signed by the leaders of the member states on Friday.
Briefing reporters later, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that each of the SCO member states was very very clear in recognising the threat that this challenge poses to the region and beyond. To counter the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, the SCO members called for the compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons. “They stress the importance of the early destruction of all declared stockpiles of chemical weapons,” the declaration said.
On Afghanistan, the member states called for creating an inclusive government in the war-torn country, which is now ruled by the Taliban. “The member states consider it extremely important to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of representatives of all ethnic, religious and political groups of Afghan society,” the declaration said.
The grouping also advocated the formation of Afghanistan as an independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free from terrorism, war and drugs. On Iran, the declaration said that the SCO member states consider it important to sustainably implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and called on all participants to strictly fulfill their obligations for its comprehensive and effective implementation.
The SCO also called for creating a transparent international energy market and reducing the existing trade barriers. “We call on the countries of the world to jointly create an open, transparent and efficient international energy market, reduce trade barriers, avoid excessive volatility in world energy commodity prices, maintain a healthy, stable and sustainable international energy market,” the declaration said.
The SCO member states called for more effective World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a key forum for discussing the international trade agenda and adopting the rules of the multilateral trading system. The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.