International Relations Notes 2020 (#2): India & The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

India & The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  • Since its inception in 2001, the SCO’s quest for greater socio-economic cooperation among its members, has been influenced primarily by China. 
  • The 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit (hereafter “Summit”) hosted virtually by Russia on 10 November 2020, and the 19th SCO Heads of Government Meeting (hereafter “Meeting”) hosted virtually by India on 30 November 2020, highlighted the importance of three issues, which are relevant for India’s membership of the SCO. 
  • These are (i) the SCO’s progress on enhancing cooperation within its socio-economic space, including through connectivity projects and digital technology; (ii) the SCO’s effectiveness in countering transnational terrorism directed against India; and (iii) the role of the SCO in contributing to security and stability in Asia.
  • The success of the SCO in countering terrorism through international cooperation till now has been limited.
  • The establishment of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent in 2004 has enabled the organisation to register some results.
  • The SCO’s ambivalence towards the terrorist threat from the Af-Pak region is compounded by the position of two of its members (China and Russia) in the UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • Since hosting the Asian Relations Conference in March-April 1947, India has consistently sought to construct a participatory and inclusive framework for Asian unity and stability to support national socio-economic development goals.

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West Asia Diplomacy

  • Over the past month, New Delhi has orchestrated a significant push to strengthen relations with the Gulf. 
  • The recent flurry of diplomacy between the regions is centred on two major fronts. 
  • The first, of course, is the fact that as positive news of vaccines now rolling out across the world means that preparations to normalise global economics, commerce, migration have begun.
  • Second, it is even more pertinent today to push India’s case in countries such as UAE, which recently orchestrated a ban on 13 countries for reissuance of visas. 

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Energy Diplomacy

  • The recent decision of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to allow a muted increase in production in the first quarter of next year was welcomed by India.
  • India stands to gain because oil producers need to generate revenues necessary to maintain the investment levels to ensure steady oil supply.
  • India’s relations with the largest oil producers, notably the Persian Gulf monarchies and Russia, also increasingly revolve around them ploughing their earnings into India’s oil and gas sector. 

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National Sovereignty And International law

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comment that “Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests and human rights” created controversy in India.
  • In the post-World War II period, no state can claim absolute sovereignty. 
  • All states, big and small, have shed some sovereignty.
  • They must answer to the international law, which in our era is defined by the United Nations Charter.
  • It is always easy to rally opinion in a country in defence of national sovereignty, but under the international law, this cannot be used as an excuse to abuse the rights of citizens, or cause injury to the global commons.
  • Canada and the UK are sensitive to their minorities, unlike India which is seeing a systematic effort to marginalise and demonise its largest minority, the Muslims.

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