The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, the establishment of which was announced by the members of “the Shanghai Five” and Uzbekistan on July 15, 2016 in Shanghai. The mechanism of “the Shanghai Five” was established as a result of signing of the agreements on strengthening trust in the military sphere and reciprocal reduction of military forces in border regions between Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan.
The Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was signed at the summit held in St. Petersburg in June 2002 as the fundamental statutory document stipulating purposes, principles, structures and form of operation of the organization.
The main objectives of the SCO are as follows - strengthening mutual trust and neighborly relationship between the participating states; contributing to the efficient cooperation in the political, trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural spheres, as well as in the realms of education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection etc.; jointly maintaining and safeguarding of peace, security and stability in the region; fostering creation of democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
The Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making body of the SCO. The members of the Council of Heads of States makes decisions and gives relevant instructions on all the important issues of the Organization.
The Council of Heads of Governments (prime ministers) of the SCO member states holds a meeting once per year for the discussion of the strategy of multilateral cooperation and priority directions within the framework of the organization, solution of the principal and actual issues of collaboration in the economic and other spheres. It also approves the annual budget of the organization.
There are also mechanisms of meetings on the level of heads of parliaments, secretaries of security councils, ministers of foreign affairs, defense, emergency situations, economy, transport, culture, education, healthcare, heads of law enforcement agencies, supreme and arbitral courts, and procurator-generals.
The Council of National Coordinators of the SCO member states represents the mechanism of coordination within the framework of the SCO member states.
The Organization has two permanent bodies – the SCO Secretariat in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
In accordance with the article 16 of the SCO Charter, decisions in the frames of SCO are made based on consensus.
SCO is open for the accession of other countries of the region (article 13 of the Charter). According to article 14 of the Charter, the SCO can grant observer’s or dialogue partner’s status to the interested state or international organization.
The observer states can be invited to the sessions of the Council of Heads of States or Council of Heads of Governments. The status of dialogue partner stipulates the participation of the partner state in the profile consultations on the ministerial level, sittings of working groups and committees of high level officials on the issues regarding partnership.
The member states of the Organization assume chairmanship in the main bodies of the SCO (the Council of Heads of State, Council of Heads of Governments, Council of Foreign Ministers and Council of National Coordinators) per one year according to the Russian alphabetic order of the names of member states.
The Russian and Chinese are the official languages of the Organization.
The President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan delivered remarks at the course of the session of the Council of Heads of States held on July 10, 2015 in Ufa.
As a result of the Ufa summit, a number of documents had been adopted, including the Decision on granting the Republic of Armenia the status of the SCO dialogue partner.
The Memorandum on granting the Republic of Armenia the status of the SCO dialogue partner was signed on April 16, 2016 at the SCO headquarters in Beijing.
The 16th session of the SCO Council of Heads of States was held on June 23-24 in Tashkent. The next session of the SCO Council of Heads of State will be held in June 2017. Kazakhstan assumes the chairmanship in the Organization for the upcoming period.