'In Medias Res': The Development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a Security Community

Marc Edouard Lanteigne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


As the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation observed its fifth anniversary in June 2006, the question of where the regime fits within the expanding area of international strategic institutions in Asia and elsewhere assumes an even greater, importance. The SCO has begun to establish itself as a more formal actor in the complex area of Eurasian security, and has evolved from a largely consultative grouping into a security community As well, the SCO has become the cornerstone of China's Central Asian diplomacy and its promotion of "non-alliance" forms of strategic cooperation. However, despite the SCO's endeavours to portray itself as a forum for information-sharing and confidcnce-building, as well as political and economic cooperation, hard power considerations remain an important part of the organisation's policymaking. Although the SCO was seen as marginalized when Western forces entered Central Asia after September 2001, the organisation plays key roles and should not be dismissed as a strategic actor and source of regional cooperation. Moreover, with American forces remaining in Central Asia for the foreseeable future and Central Asian governments becoming increasingly concerned about the potential aftershocks of the recent "colour revolutions" in the former USSR, there is the greater possibility that a more mature SCO may engage in overt power-balancing behaviour vis-a-vis the West, resulting in rivalries rather than cooperation. To prevent this scenario, it is argued that the international community should take the opportunity I to better engage the SCO in the name of promoting peace and stability in Eurasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-622
Number of pages20
JournalPacific Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


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