Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization which was founded on June 14, 2001 by leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the People's Republic of China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Except for Uzbekistan, the other countries had been members of the Shanghai Five; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization.
The Shanghai Five grouping was originally created in 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. In 1997 the same countries signed the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in a meeting in Moscow.
In 2001, the annual summit returned to Shanghai, China. There the five member nations first admitted Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Five mechanism (thus transforming it into the Shanghai Six). Then all six heads of state signed on 15 June, 2001, the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, praising the role played thus far by the Shanghai Five mechanism and aiming to transform it to a higher level of cooperation.
In June 2002, the heads of the SCO member states met in St. Petersburg, Russia. There they signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organization's purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, and established it officially from the point of view of international law.
Role and Organization
Most observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to the United States and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas near both Russia and China. Many observers also believe that the organization was formed as a direct response to the threat of missile defense systems by the United States, after the United States reversed course in its nuclear policy and began promoting a "missile defense" system that will enable the United States to actually wage what former President of the United States Ronald Reagan called "limited nuclear war."
The SCO is centered around its member nations' Central Asian concerns. Early goals of this organization were mostly security-related issues. This included solving border conflicts, avoiding military conflicts, anti-terrorism, and countering militant Islam.
Russia and China's conflicting interests have limited the groups' ability to act in a coordinated manner. Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the SCO was unable to develop a coordinated policy against terrorism and was also unable to deal as a collective body with the United States. The United States was able to significantly increase its influence by offering aid and convincing many of its Central Asian members to allow the United States to use their territory as military bases.
Starting in 2003, there was a joint anti-terrorism center built in Shanghai, China.
The effort to expand the SCO to include economic issues, courts, and joint military exercises culminated in 100 specific actions that were resolved on September 23 2004. The SCO has floated ideas for forming a free trade area that will eventually share all resources from foodstuffs to military science.
The working languages of the organization are Russian and Chinese.
Future membership possibilities
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui has said that the SCO will not take in new members before its six members make serious studies. However the SCO has since encouraged India to join the organization, saying that they would properly consider a membership application should it decide to join the group. 
Among other nations of the wider region, Mongolia became the first country to receive observer status in the 2004 Tashkent Summit. Pakistan has since also applied to the SCO for observer status. It's been suggested that it might also join the organization in the near future.
Iran is also widely seen as interested in joining the SCO.
- Official People's Republic of China pages on the SCO: from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  and from Xinhua News 
- Harvard Asia Quarterly article: Power Politics in Central Asia - The Future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
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