Analysis & Opinions - Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Iran One Step Closer to SCO Membership

| Sep. 14, 2022

Assessing the real benefits—and limits—of joining the so-called "anti-NATO" can help policymakers better understand what Tehran, China, Russia, and other participants are getting out of their summits.

One year after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization approved Iran's application for accession, the country is expected to take another step in the process by signing a Memorandum of Obligations at the September 15-16 SCO summit in Samarkand. Doing so would begin a year-long formal process for Iran to attain full member status.

Since its formation in 2001, the SCO has admitted new members only once before, when India and Pakistan's applications were approved at the 2015 summit. The two countries went on to sign memoranda of obligations at the 2016 summit and be admitted as full members at the 2017 summit.

The standard memorandum that Iran will sign outlines the various obligations a country is expected to fulfill, including accession to SCO agreements and treaties such as the organization's founding charter and its Convention on Combating Terrorism, Extremism, and Separatism. Once it has met these prerequisites, Tehran will submit the instruments of accession to the SCO Secretariat in Beijing for approval. Although such requirements may seem stiff on paper, the fact is that the SCO's institutional capacity for ensuring these agreements are actually fulfilled is limited to two permanent bodies—the Secretariat in Beijing and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in Tashkent, neither of which has the legal capacity to enforce decisions. In any case, the precedent of India and Pakistan's accession indicates that Iran will likely become a full member in summer 2023....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Grajewski, Nicole."Iran One Step Closer to SCO Membership." Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 14, 2022.

The Author

Nicole Grajewski