Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

  • The SCO was founded in June 2001, built on the Shanghai Five’ grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic) and Tajikistan
  • In 2001, the Shanghai Five inducted Uzbekistan into the group and named it the SCO. 
  • In July 2015 in Ufa, Russia, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members. Both signed the memorandum of obligations in June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as full members. 
  • In June 2017, at a summit in Astana, India and Pakistan officially joined SCO as full members.  
  • The SCO has four observer states — Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia.  SCO has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.  
  • The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years.


Conflict resolution:  

  • Conflict resolution has been an important goal of the SCO to ensure regional stability and security.  
  • Though the SCO Charter doesn’t allow any bilateral dispute to be taken up, it provides a comfortable platform for building mutual trust, expanding cooperation, finding common ground and eventually, creating conditions for dialogue between countries.  
  • The platform has previously played a key role in conflict resolution between China and Russia, and among Central Asian republics. 
    • The 1996 meeting of the Shanghai Five, resulted in an Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas’ between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which led to an agreement on the mutual reduction of military forces on their common borders in 1997. Subsequently, it helped push the Central Asian countries to resolve some of their boundary disputes as well.

 Strengthening cooperation: 

  •  The SCO as stated in its Charter that was adopted in St. Petersburg in 2002, seeks to promote effective cooperation between member nations in politics, trade, economy, research and technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.

Coral Reefs: 

  • They are large underwater structures composed of the skeletons of colonial marine invertebrates called coral. 
  • Corals extract calcium carbonate from seawater to create a hard, durable exoskeleton that protects their soft, sac-like bodies.  
  • These exoskeleton remains of millions of corals pile up with time to form coral reefs.  
  • The corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae called the zooxanthellae.
  • These algae live inside the coral polyp’s body and provide the coral with food. 
  • The polyps, in turn, provide a home and carbon dioxide for the algae.  These algae are responsible for the variety of colours of corals. 

Interesting facts:

  •  Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but they are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth.  
  • They are referred to as “the rainforests of the sea” for their biodiversity,  When corals become stressed due to any changes, including pollution or global warming, they can expel algae and get bleached, meaning the ‘death’ of the coral reef.  
  • Dead coral reefs support cryptic organisms like hidden sea creatures, including fishes, snails, tiny crabs and worms, who hide under its rubble to save themselves from predation.

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