SCO and vital summit paving way to new global order

The 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of State on Sept 15-16 in Uzbekistan is an extremely important meeting given the prevailing regional and global dynamics, and the world is watching. 

The agenda proposed by the chair of the SCO further reinforces its importance. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan placed emphasis on raising the stakes surrounding and the authority of the SCO in coming years so it can play a more active and impactful role. 

He underlined the importance of economic integration, connectivity, removing of trade barriers and digitalization. Food security, poverty reduction and sustainable peace are other areas of focus.

To these ends, the SCO will have to find new ways of working and move a little from its past philosophy. There is a need to reform the organization on the basis of new realities and importance of the SCO.

First, the SCO will have to revisit the concept of partnership and non-alignment. As the West has become more aggressive in the recent past and is trying to weave a new NATO-like alliance in the Asia-Pacific.  

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or QUAD, involving the United States, Australia, India and Japan, and AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the US, are steps in this direction. 

The SCO should avoid the mistakes of Western alliances, including their arrogance, self-claimed greatness, and righteousness

NATO is an organization in which all partners are bound to ensure the security of the others against perceived threats. 

In this scenario, the loose structure of SCO will weaken its capabilities and the trust of members. The major strength of the partnership can be turned into a weakness. Thus, it is suggested that SCO will have to try a hybrid model, which helps counter Western alliances, while keeping the independence of its members intact.

The proposed model is that SCO should make clear that it will not create conflict or be a threat to anyone. However, if the members are being threatened then it will reply with full force. 

Second, the SCO should concentrate on common goods and common challenges. It will help the SCO to counter threats emerging from the non-traditional security areas like climate change, food insecurity, water, climate driven migration. 

A dedicated platform should be formed to work on non-traditional security threats and provide policy options for the organization to help avoid undesired interference from the NATO and other Western institutions. It will also strengthen the status of organization. 

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

Third, the SCO should launch a “Prosperity Forum” to promote wellbeing of people, create livelihood opportunities and acts as shock absorber to external challenges.  The forum must have single goal, “No-one Left Behind” as defined for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Center for International Knowledge and Development, which was created by President Xi can be approached to assist on this front.  

There should also be some sort of mechanism to establish links between green development and the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI.

To meet that goal, the BRI Green Council would be an excellent choice to formulate the agenda for cooperation.   

Fourth, as the SCO is host to Chinese, Indus, Iranian, Russian, Central Asiana and Muslim civilizations, it should turn this into its strength and launch “dialogue among civilizations” platform. This should be given the task of finding common ground so that all civilizations can move hand in hand without threating each other. It would be a landmark achievement for SCO, if it is succeeded. 

The success of such a platform at the SCO would pave the way for the replication of the model on a larger scale. Right now, world is in dire need of such platform, as a war of superiority has been launched by West.

Fifth, at present only government backed or supported think tanks are part of the SCO. 

This is not a good model, as it shrinks the space for independent policy advice. The SCO should invite independent non-government organizations. These organizations will help to mitigate the Western propaganda. The SCO should also look to engage with the non-government and non-partisan Western organizations. 

Sixth, the SCO should consider creating links with the Global Development Initiative, the BRI Belt and the Global Security Initiative. These initiatives are comprehensive enough and provide exceptional opportunities in terms of economy, trade, security, peace, food security, connectivity and sustainable development. 

In conclusion, the SCO should avoid the mistakes of Western alliances, including their arrogance, self-claimed greatness, and righteousness. It must acknowledge there is room for improvement and show respect to other organizations. 

Developing and least developing 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 global order and mother earth.      

The author is CEO of the Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development in Pakistan. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.