Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an international organisation of now eight member countries (the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan), which was established in 2001 (Declaration on the Establishment of the SCO (Shanghai, 15 June 2001)) for the purposes of political, military and economic cooperation. A particular focus is put on fighting the ‘three evil forces’ (“SCO exercises show resolve to fight Three Evil Forces: official,” People’s Daily Online, 10 September 2009, of terrorism, separatism and extremism. (The Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism (Shanghai, 15 June 2001))

Besides, the SCO has four Observer States (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia) and six Dialogue Partners (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, Sri Lanka).

In 2009, the Agreement among the Governments of the SCO Member States on Cooperation in the Field of Ensuring International Information Security (Yekaterinburg, 16 June 2009) was concluded (an unofficial English translation is here). On 12 September 2011, four members of the SCO submitted a Draft International Code of Conduct for Information Security to the United Nations General Assembly. This initial group was expanded to six members in 2015, when it submitted a new Draft to the UN General Assembly, though the substance of the document does not drastically depart from that of the previous document (see INCYDER news).

The concept of ‘international information security’ is controversial. Whereas the SCO Member States believe that content is a potential security threat and should be regulated, the ‘Western consensus’ considers this level of content regulation to be a threat to fundamental human rights. (For further information on this topic, see Giles, K. “Russia’s Public Stance on Cyberspace Issues,” In 2012 4th International Conference on Cyber Conflict, edited bty Czosseck, C., Ottis, R., Ziolkowski, K. Tallinn, 2012.

At the Ufa Summit on 10 July 2015, leaders of SCO Member States reaffirmed their position on information security. Besides that, the procedure of accession for India and Pakistan was officially started. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “After BRICS, Putin Hosts Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit In Ufa,” Nevertheless, the accession of any new Member States to existing documents of the SCO, such as the Yekaterinburg Agreement, is uncertain.

During the meeting of the SCO National Security Council Secretaries ( on 21-22 May 2018 in Beijing it was stressed that information and communications technology (ICT), including the internet, were being actively used to promote all manifestations of terrorism, separatism and extremism, to recruit militants, to expand terrorist activities and to interfere in the domestic affairs of other states as well as to commit other criminal acts. That points out again and refers to the statement back in 2009, to fight the ‘three evil forces’. Beside this, the participants called for intensifying practical cooperation in the field of international information security and drafting universal regulations, principles and norms of states’ responsible conduct in the media sector under UN auspices.