SCO’s Regional Security Mandate

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Terrorism activities in Central Asia are mostly a cross-border phenomenon. The origin of most terrorists and terrorist organisations that function in Central Asia is Afghanistan due to the presence of the Taliban. Further, it includes Al Qaeda militants, as well as the Ferghana Valley due to the Tajik Civil War.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Since its creation in 2001, the SCO has mainly concentrated on regional security problems and its fight against regional terrorism. It includes ethnic separatism and religious extremism. 

The Charter of SCO was adopted in June 2002. Article 1 SCO Charter of The Organization’s states main objectives and tasks include “the creation of multifaceted collaboration in the strengthening and maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region and advancement of a new democratic, fair and sound political and economic international order; and jointly fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism in all of their embodiments, fighting different types of transnational criminal movement and dealing with illegal migration.”

The principal regional mechanism against terrorism is the Shanghai Convention on Combating, Separatism and Extremism. It was adopted on 15 June 2001 and entered into force on 29 March 2003. A mainly notable element of the Convention is that it is exceptional as an international/regional anti-terrorism convention in expanding beyond “terrorism” to include “separatism” and “extremism” within its scope. These images are the so-called three ‘-isms’, which are roles of the SCO.

SCO embraces a hybrid approach to terrorism, referring to the techniques of existing universal mechanisms against terrorism and adopting its regional definition. The other explanation is “Separatism” means any act intended to violate the territorial integrity of a State, including by annexation of any part of its parts or violently disintegrating a State, as well as designing and preparing, aiding and abetting such act and subject to criminal prosecuting under the national laws of the Parties; “Extremism” means an action desired at violent seizing or keeping power, and violently altering the constitutional system a State, as well as a fierce encroachment upon public security, including organisation, for the above objectives, of illegal armed appearances and participation in them, criminally charged in conformity with the national laws of the Parties.

Moreover, with regional and universal mechanisms against terrorism, maintaining existing levels of cooperation lies at the crux of the 2001 Convention. This may take many forms, such as information exchange, enforcing measures to prevent, identify, and suppress criminal acts under the Convention, capacity-building, and so forth.

In 2009, the 2001 Convention was augmented by the Convention on Counter-Terrorism of the SCO. Notably, its overall definitional practice directs to the menace of terrorism as an “ideology of violence” and a “practice of exercising leverage on the decision-making of governments or international organisations by intimidating or committing violent and (or) other criminal actions, connected with intimidating the population and desired at causing injury to private individuals, society or the state”. 

Additionally, to promote ongoing cooperation within its Membership, primarily through information exchange aimed at stopping and combating terrorism, the 2009 Convention further delivered a legal basis on which representatives of a Member State may, with approval, enter the territory of another State in quest of a suspect.

Countering terrorism and violent extremism is increased on the political agenda of the SCO. For example, during a meeting of member States in September 2017, plans were examined on how to heighten practical cooperation on counter-terrorism among its members.

In addition to fostering closer integration among its members in its competence areas, the SCO sets external relations with other international organisations. It includes the United Nations, the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of the UN, the International Organization for Migration, the European Union, and individual non-member states. The various contacts of the SCO present a broad understanding of and procedure to international security on the role of SCO member states. That is not restricted to military affairs or law enforcement but expands to issues such as migration, education, and culture.

SCO also collaborates with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to “maintain a dialogue on issues linked to international humanitarian law applicable to armed conflicts; helping enforce IHL standards and other international legal documents; circulating legal information about IHL and its enactment; developing a discussion in the humanitarian sphere; and organising events to stop and respond to emergencies.”

A vital instrument launched to facilitate regional anti-terrorism collaboration has been the creation of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. It is represented and input into by national security services. Its essential roles include operations and data exchange among individual SCO Member States to determine and contain terrorist activities in the region. Further, it has ‘blacklisted’ terrorist persons and organisations.

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