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The COVID-19 pandemic has reopened the debate over the ineffectiveness of multilateral institutions, fuelled not only by the current crisis, but also by the prospect of US-China confrontation escalating, which could narrow the prospects for multilateralism.
At the time of the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the main goal of the association was to combat such challenges as separatism, extremism and terrorism. At the SCO summit, chaired by Russia in a videoconference format on 10 November this year, these issues were raised. However, long before the pandemic, doubts arose about the effectiveness of the SCO and its ability to resolve specific issues in Eurasia. The uneasy relationship between India and Pakistan, which joined the organisation in 2017, as well as growing tensions between India and China, have only intensified this scepticism. In addition, the development of the SCO has been influenced by the different agendas of Russia and China: Moscow insists on focusing on security issues, while Beijing has focused more on economic issues.
• Will the SCO be able to focus its attention on the original intentions that served as the basis for establishing the organisation?
• How do India and Russia perceive the rise of China; is there a risk of its transformation into a regional hegemon?
• Which multilateral organisations may become stronger in a changing world order? Will the SCO be one such group?