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Shanghai Cooperation Is Collective Security Arrangement for 21st Century

Half of the world’s population, a fifth of its economy, and its two most motivated armies – Russian and Chinese - are part of the SCO.

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The author is a member of the Zinoviev Club of the International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya.

At 15, The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a little younger than the presidency of Vladimir Putin. It’s not a bloc, nor an alliance, nor a union. What is it, and what does it do – this organization that seems amorphous in terms of the cold war — besides consisting of the countries not included in the Western ranks?

It includes half the population of the planet, generating a fifth of its economy, as well as two of the most motivated and well-armed militaries – the Russian and Chinese.

Freedom and flexibility of responsibilities for SCO participating countries is one advantage over the EU. It has the problem of coordinating positions, but does the EU not have the same? On the other hand, it returns to the European principles of civilized unity, to what had been called "the Concert of Europe" post-Napoleon, that even allowed wars against participants according to certain rules. The two world wars put an end to "the Concert of Europe", which accepted Japan after the Meiji Restoration, although it wasn’t European at all.  

Today the "concert" is being restored, but with a European format and a more complex configuration than 200 years ago, but perhaps with better prospects. Skeptics pretend to be pragmatic when they interpret the SCO as merely a regional initiative, saying, “It’s good that there will be more roads (appearing for the first time in some places), and fewer conflicts in Central Asia, but this will only happen in that part of the world.”

Let’s recall what a region means.

A region is a cooperative entity including many states and economic agents, many of which, in turn, are multi-state, inter-state or trans-state. A region is a geographical pole that organizes the world on a given basis; it is a reversal of globalization, which is directed in one way or another, creating or solving so-called regional problems.

The British Commonwealth gave the world at least two knots of regional conflicts which seem irresolvable. One  conflict is between parts of former colonial India: Muslim Pakistan and India, mostly Hindu and decisively non-Muslim.

The second conflict is the hopeless knot of the Afghan conflict, which the late USSR failed to cut like the Gordian knot. American intervention into Afghanistan, with a diametrically opposed goal – adding some ‘imported democracy’ to the chaos, – attained its objective. Skyrocketing growth in drugs production (which became part of business of the American army), speaks for itself.

We will have to sort out the consequences of interference in our continental affairs on the part of islanders – either from the ‘"ittle island" where Brexit has just taken place, or from the "big" one, that occupies almost all of North America. It’s no coincidence that India and Pakistan, which had leveraged US negative influence in the region, entered this collective organization at the jubilee summit of the SCO in Tashkent.

The SCO, starting with the hottest spots of Eurasia – the Indian-Pakistani conflict and the Afghan knot, is developing as a system of collective continental security for the XXIst century. Possibilities for economic synergy provide an incentive to global economic development as well. And Russia’s efforts in Syria fit seamlessly into this strategy of a new continental security.

The text of the Tashkent Declaration, signed by SCO participants, including newly-affiliated India and Pakistan, clearly shows that the SCO presents itself as a global power, backing up a UN that copes poorly with today’s problems.

It’s not the UN Security Council, frozen in the arms of nuclear deterrence against Russia, but a whole big "board" of countries, until now helplessly contemplating global problems that increase in number and force. The fact that SCO participating countries committed themselves to relatively  "weak" rather than ‘strong’ organizational restrictions, leaves space and hope for reviving real international law, of which not much is left at the UN, but which is so vital for the world community of nations.

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