New Delhi [India] : Expressing concern about the situation in Afghanistan, leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO) called for an establishment of inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of representatives of all ethnic, religious and political groups in Afghan society and pledged to continue to assist the Afghan people.
The member countries adopted New Delhi Declaration of the Council of Heads of State of Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Tuesday. Notably, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit concluded on Tuesday under India’s presidency with Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually chairing the meeting of head of states.
The SCO Member States called for an inclusive government in Afghanistan and stated that “the group consider it essential to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of representatives of all ethnic, religious and political groups in Afghan society.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who chaired the SCO summit, said, “The situation in Afghanistan has directly impacted the security of all of us. India’s concerns and expectations regarding Afghanistan are similar to those of most of the SCO countries. We must come together to strive for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan.”
“Humanitarian assistance to Afghan citizens; the formation of an inclusive government; the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking; and ensuring the rights of women, children, and minorities are our shared priorities,” he said.
“Between the people of India and Afghanistan, there have been centuries-old friendly relations. In the past two decades, we have contributed to the economic and social development of Afghanistan. Even after the events of 2021, we continued to provide humanitarian assistance,” PM Modi added.
“The Member States believe that one of the most important factors in the preservation and strengthening of safety and stability within the SCO region is the early settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. They advocate building Afghanistan as an independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free from terrorism, war and drugs,” the joint decalaration said.
They further stressed the importance of long-term hospitality and effective assistance provided to Afghan refugees by regional and neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. The Member States consider important, the active efforts of the international community to facilitate their dignified, safe and sustainable return to their homeland.
However, “the member states stressed the historical significance of the admission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO as a full Member State. They also noted the importance of signing the Memorandum of Obligations by the Republic of Belarus to achieve the status of an SCO Member State,” the release added.
The Member States highly appreciated the outcomes of India’s presidency of the SCO in 2022-2023 which has contributed to the further development of multi-faceted and mutually beneficial cooperation.
“They further called for greater effectiveness of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a key platform for discussing the international trade agenda and adopting the regulations of the multilateral trading system,” the official release said. However, they emphasized the need for early implementation of an inclusive reform of the organization, focusing on the issues of its development and adaptation to modern economic realities, as well as, effective implementation of the functions of monitoring, negotiation and settlement of disputes.
The Member States affirm the significance of further improving and reforming the architecture of global economic governance and will consistently advocate and strengthen an open, transparent, fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system based on the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles and rules.
It will promote the development of an open world economy, ensure equitable market access, and oppose protectionist measures and trade restrictions contrary to the WTO principles that undermine the multilateral trading system and threaten the global economy.
They later stressed that the unilateral application of economic sanctions other than those approved by the UN Security Council is incompatible with the principles of international law and has a negative impact on third countries and international economic relations.
“Reaffirming their support for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) initiative, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan note the ongoing work to jointly implement this project, including efforts to link the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI,” the release said.
They however spoke in favour of implementing the Roadmap for a gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements by the interested Member States.
Adding to this, today the world is undergoing unprecedented transformations and is entering a new era of rapid technological development that requires an increase in the effectiveness of global institutions.
Hence, new approaches are required to promote more equitable and effective international cooperation as there is a growing technological and digital divide, continued turbulence in global financial markets, global reduction in investment flows, instability of supply chains, increased protectionist measures and other barriers to international trade, consequences of the global climate change and COVID-19 pandemic are adding to the volatility and uncertainty in the global economy and creating additional challenges for economic growth, maintaining social well-being, ensuring food and energy security, as well as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Furthermore, based on the proximity of assessments of the current regional and international agenda, the Member States confirm their commitment to the formation of a more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on the universally recognized principles of international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security, cultural and civilizational diversity, mutually beneficial and equal cooperation of states with a central coordinating role of the UN.
“The Member States reaffirm that the SCO is not directed against other states and international organizations and is open to broad cooperation with them in accordance with the goals and principles of the UN Charter, SCO Charter and international law, based on consideration of mutual interests and common approaches to solving regional and global problems,” the release mentioned.
In accordance with the principles of the SCO Charter, the member states pursue a policy that excludes bloc, ideological and confrontational approaches to address the problems of international and regional development, countering traditional and non-traditional security challenges and threats.
They further reaffirm the relevance of initiatives to promote cooperation in building a new- type of international relations in the spirit of mutual respect, justice, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as the formation of a common vision of creating a community of the common destiny of humanity.
The release said, “The Member States advocate respect for the right of peoples to an independent and democratic choice of the paths of their political and socio-economic development, emphasize that the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of states, equality, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force or threats to use force, are the basis of sustainable development of international relations. They reaffirm their commitment to peaceful settlement of disagreements and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultations.”
The Member States also intend to develop cooperation in the fields of politics and security, trade, economy, finance and investment, and cultural and humanitarian ties in order to build a peaceful, safe, prosperous and environment-friendly planet Earth, achieving harmonious coexistence of Man and nature.
They consider it important to build up joint coordinated efforts by the international community to counter the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups, paying special attention to preventing the spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, ideas of fascism and chauvinism.
“Reaffirming their commitment to peace, joint development and equal relations based on the principles of mutual respect, friendship and good-neighbourliness, the Member States will continue conducting a constructive dialogue based on trust, deepening effective multifaceted cooperation, making every effort to strengthen security and stability and ensure sustainable development in the SCO region,” the release said.
Moreover, the Member States consider Central Asia to be the core of SCO and support the efforts of the region’s countries to ensure prosperity and peace, sustainable development and the formation of a space of good-neighbourliness, trust and friendship.
They also intend to broaden and deepen cooperation for sustainable socio-economic development and to improve the well-being and living standards of the people in the SCO region.
“They consider it important to ensure the implementation of the SCO Economic Development Strategy 2030 adopted by interested Member States, other joint programs and projects aimed at promoting cooperation in such priority areas as the digital economy, high technology and innovation, creation of new and modernization of existing international routes for road and rail transport, multimodal transport corridors and logistics centres, finance and investment, energy and food security, reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains, industrial cooperation and inter-regional ties,” according to the release.
However, they also intend to strengthen cooperation in education, science and technology, culture, health, disaster management, as well as tourism, sports and people-to-people contacts, especially through women and youth, public diplomacy institutions, cultural centres and the media.
The Member States agreed to declare 2024 as the SCO Year of Environment and noted the importance of cooperation in the field of environmental protection, ecological security and prevention of the negative consequences of climate change, development of specially protected nature reserves and eco-tourism.
Furthermore, the presidency of the SCO for the forthcoming period is handed over to the Republic of Kazakhstan. The next meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State will be held in 2024 in Kazakhstan