SCO members reaffirm commitment to fighting terrorism, separatism, extremism: New Delhi Declaration

SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization 2023

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) members reaffirmed strong commitment to fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, including the elimination of sleeper cells and places used as 'safe havens' for terrorists, stated the New Delhi Declaration after the conclusion of the summit under India's presidency. The SCO summit concluded under India's presidency earlier in the day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and heads of state of other SCO nations virtually participated in the event.

India assumed the rotating chairmanship of the SCO at the Samarkand Summit of SCO on September 16 last year. The theme of India's Chairmanship of SCO in 2023 is 'SECURE-SCO'. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Delhi Declaration stated, "Reaffirming their strong commitment to fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, the Member States are determined to continue taking active measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, to disrupt the terror financing channels, to suppress recruitment activities and cross-border movement of terrorists, to counter extremism, and radicalization of youth, the dissemination of terrorist ideology, as well as to eliminate "sleeper cells" and places used as terrorist safe havens".

The SCO member states also noted the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of states under the pretext of countering terrorism and extremism, as well as unacceptability of using terrorist, extremist and radical groups for mercenary goals. The member states consider it important to build up joint coordinated efforts by the international community to counter the attempts to involve young people in the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups.

"The Member States note the effective activities of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in promoting cooperation between competent authorities in countering terrorism, separatism and extremism, including the implementation of the relevant Program for 2022-2024. The importance of implementing practical measures aimed at expanding its capabilities to strengthen cooperation in these areas was emphasized," the declaration stated. It added, "Subject to their national laws and on the basis of consensus, the Member States will seek to develop common principles and approaches to form a unified list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organizations whose activities are prohibited on the territories of the SCO Member States".

The Member States emphasize a key role of the UN in countering threats in the information space, creating a safe, fair and open information space built on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The member states categorically opposed the militarization of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

"They support development of universal rules, principles and norms of responsible behavior of states in this area, and in particular, welcome the development under the auspices of the UN of a comprehensive international convention against the use of ICT for criminal purposes. The Member States will continue cooperation within the framework of specialized negotiating mechanisms at the UN and other international platforms," the declaration stated. It added, "The Member States have expressed their concern about the growing threats posed by increased production, trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs and using the proceeds of illicit drug-trafficking as a source of funding for terrorism. They stressed the need for a joint and balanced approach to countering trafficking of illicit drugs and their precursors, and noted the importance of implementing the international drug control conventions and other relevant legal regulatory instruments".

The Member States also focussed on the illicit drug trafficking and their non-medical consumption posing threat to international and regional security and stability, sustainable economic development of states, health and well-being of people, as well as the exercise of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Emphasizing the importance of consolidating forces in the fight against illicit drug-trafficking and wide cooperation in this area, the member states will continue implementing the SCO 'Anti-Drug Strategy' for 2018-2023 and Action Plan for its implementation.

The Member States intend to further conduct joint anti-drug operations on a regular basis. According to the Ministry, the SCO member states also focussed on continuation of the nuclear disarmament process mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

"The Member States that are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons are in favour of strict observance of the provisions of the Treaty, the comprehensive balanced promotion of all the goals and principles fixed therein, strengthening of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, continuation of the nuclear disarmament process, as well as the promotion of an equitable, mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes," the release stated. It added, "The Member States stand for responding to global and regional security challenges and threats through political and diplomatic means on a multilateral basis and will strengthen cooperation and actively promote the multilateral arms control, disarmament and non- proliferation process, including efforts within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament".

The Member States advocated keeping outer space free of weapons of any kind and state the importance of strict observance of existing legal regime, which provides for solely peaceful use of outer space. They emphasized the need to conclude an international legally- binding document that would enhance transparency and provide reliable guarantees to prevent an arms race and not be the first to deploy weapons in outer space.

The SCO member states also emphasised the importance of the Convention on Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BTWC) as one of pillars of the global security architecture. "They emphasized the need for strict adherence to the BTWC, in particular, through adoption of a Protocol to the Convention which provides for an effective verification mechanism. They oppose creating any mechanisms duplicating the BTWC functions, including those that fall within the mandate of the UN Security Council," the Ministry stated in the declaration.

The Member States called out for full compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC) as an effective instrument in disarmament and non-proliferation. The SCO member states also emphasized the significance of early destruction of all declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. The Member States reaffirm their support for Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and advocate for concerted decisions to bridge divisions within the Organization, ensure its integrity and operate effectively under the Convention.

"The Member States also consider the sustainable implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan on the Iranian nuclear program to be important and, in accordance with Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council, urge all the participants to strictly fulfill their obligations for comprehensive and effective implementation of the document," the Ministry stated in the declaration.

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