The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001. The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey). In 2021, the decision was made to start the accession process of Iran to the SCO as a full member, and Egypt, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia became dialogue partners.
Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO’s priorities also include regional development.
The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005. In April 2010, the UN and SCO Secretariats signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation. SCO Secretariat has also established partnerships with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), as well as UNRCCA (United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia) maintain regular contacts with the SCO officials. The cooperation activities focus on security developments in the region and key issues related to counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism.
Since 2017, DPPA has deployed a Liaison Officer to the SCO in Beijing.