BEIJING - The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an inter-governmental organization founded on June 15, 2001 in east China's Shanghai municipality, by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
According to its charter and the declaration on its establishment, the SCO works to strengthen mutual trust and good-neighborliness and friendship among member states, develop effective cooperation in a wide range of areas, work together to maintain regional peace, security and stability and promote the creation of a new international political and economic order which is fair, reasonable and democratic.
The Secretariat of the SCO, located in Beijing, is the primary executive body of the organization. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of SCO.
The Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making body in the SCO. The council meets annually in one of the capital cities of its member states.
The Council of Heads of Government is the second highest council in the organization. It holds annual summits to discuss issues of multilateral cooperation. The council also approves the budget of the organization.
In 2004, the SCO initiated the observers mechanism and offered the observer status to Mongolia in June. In July 2005, Pakistan, Iran and India became observers of the bloc.
Its member states cover an area of more than 30 million square km with a population of about 1.5 billion.