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SCO can pave way for fair international order


The 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Thursday and Friday will be extremely important in the context of prevailing regional and global dynamics.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the SCO, emphasized increasing the authority of the organization in coming years so it can play a more active, impactful role.

For that purpose, the SCO members will have to find new ways of working and change their past philosophy slightly. There is need to reform the organization on the basis of new realities if the SCO is to have greater importance.

First, the SCO should concentrate on common goods and common challenges, such as countering the threats emerging in nontraditional security areas, such as climate change, food and water insecurity, and climate-driven migration. For that purpose, the SCO should establish a dedicated platform for addressing nontraditional security threats that can provide policy options for the organization.

The SCO should also launch dialogues on nontraditional security threats. This will help the organization to respond to future challenges and any interference from NATO and other Western organizations and institutions. It will also strengthen the unity of the SCO and enhance its status.

The Global Security Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping provides an excellent opportunity to work on this dimension.

Second, the SCO will have to revisit the concept of partnership and nonalignment. The West has become more aggressive and is building new security alliances, such as the QUAD and AUKUS, and NATO is eyeing expansion to the Asia-Pacific region.

In this context, the loose structure of the SCO will weaken its capabilities and the mutual trust of the SCO members. Thus, it is suggested that the organization try a hybrid model, which would help to keep its members' independence intact while consolidating a shared sense of purpose.

For example, the SCO could make clear that it will not create conflict or be a threat to any other party. However, if the members are being threatened, then it will reply with full force. Thus, all members should work on building consensus on a new security arrangement and cooperation framework.

Third, the SCO should launch a "Prosperity Forum". The objectives of the forum should be to promote the well-being of people, create livelihood opportunities and act as an absorber of external shocks. The forum should be designed to achieve the objective of a community with a shared future and must have a single goal-"leave no one behind", as defined in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The Center for International Knowledge and Development, initiated by President Xi, can be approached to assist on this front, especially to create policy by adhering to the principle that no one should be left behind on the road of development.

Fourth, the diversity of the SCO members in terms of history, culture and civilization provides a unique opportunity for piloting the concept of a dialogue among civilizations. The SCO brings together the Chinese, Indus, Iranian, Russian, Central Asian and Muslim civilizations. The SCO should turn this diversity into its strength and launch a "dialogue among civilizations" platform. The platform should be given the task of finding common ground, where all civilizations can advance hand-in-hand without threatening each other. It would be a landmark achievement for the SCO.

The success of the platform at the SCO would pave the way for the replication of a model of larger scale. Right now, the world is in dire need of such a platform as the West is trying to assert civilizational superiority.

Fifth, the SCO can engage more with nongovernmental organizations and think tanks. Currently, only government backed or supported think tanks are part of the SCO. It should invite independent nongovernmental organizations, which could provide policy suggestions and help to mitigate Western propaganda about so-called "authoritarian governments". The SCO should also look to engage with nongovernmental and nonpartisan organizations of the West.

Sixth, the SCO should deliberate on creating linkages with the Global Development Initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. These initiatives are comprehensive and provide exceptional opportunities for all SCO members in the form of economy, trade, security, peace, food security, connectivity and sustainable development.

Finally, the SCO should acknowledge the space for improvement and give respect to other organizations without considering their strengths or weaknesses.

The developing and least-developed countries are desperately looking for such an organization. It will pave the way for a fair and rules-based system, which is critical for the sustainability of the global order and the well-being of Mother Earth.

The author is CEO of the Asian Institute of Eco-Civilization Research and Development in Pakistan.

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Address:No.28, Nanli Road, Hong-shan District, Wuchang, Wuhan, Hubei Province, P. R. China