ICRP Resource Materials

The Institute for Cultural Relations Policy publishes online resource materials that might
be beneficial for students, researchers or anyone who deal with International Relations.

The Visegrad Mosaic: Ethnic communities in the Visegrad Group [pdf] (“World-changing words” project)

Conflicts in 2013 [pdf] (January, 2014)

Calendar of international relations in the 20th century [pdf] (version July 8, 2013)

Calendar of international relations in the 19th century [pdf(version July 8, 2013)

Calendar of international relations in the 18th century [pdf] (version August 17, 2014)

International organisations

Summary of aims, facts and future predictions about international organisations

The Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an international organization focused on promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949 by the Treaty of London. The Treaty of London was signed in London by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Strasbourg, France

10 signatory states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The organization was joined by central and eastern European states during the early 1990s and now covers 47 member states, all European states except Belarus, Kazakhstan, Vatican City and European territories with limited recognition such as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus, Transnistria and Kosovo.

First accession took place on August 9, 1949 with Greece and Turkey joining the organization. The following year Iceland on March 7 and Germany on July 13 joined. Between 1956 and 1989 the states of Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Finland join. After Eastern and Central European democratic transition followed Hungary in 1990, Poland in 1991, Bulgaria in 1992, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Romania in 1993, Andorra in 1994, Latvia, Albania, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine in 1995, Russia and Croatia in 1996, Georgia in 1999. In 2001 Armenia and Azerbaijan followed from Caucasus region. In 2002, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined, in 2003-Serbia, in 2004-Monaco and with the latest accession, Montenegro became a member in 2007.

Institutions and Presidency:

1) The Secretary General nowadays is Thorbjørn Jagland from October 2009, – the 13th Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Secretary General is elected for a term of 5 years by the Parliamentary Assembly and heads the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General has the overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Organization. Jagland’s second term in office commenced on October 1, 2014.

2) The Committee of Ministers is Council of Europe’s decision-making body, comprising the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all 47 member states. The Committee meets at ministerial level once a year and at Deputies’ level on a weekly basis. The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role-as the emanation of the government, as the collective forum alongside the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and as guardian of the values for which the Council of Europe exists.

3) Parliamentary Assembly comprises national parliamentarians from all member states. It elects its President for a year with the possibility of being re-elected for another year. In January 2016, Pedro Agramunt from Spain was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly appoints members as rapporteurs with the mandate to prepare parliamentary reports on specific subjects. Among its main achievements are: ending the death penalty in Europe by requiring new members to abolish it; making possible, and shaping, the European Convention on Human Rights; high-profile reports exposing violations of human rights in Council of Europe member states.

4) The European Court of Human Rights is a supra-national or international court created under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, was established in 1959. It is composed of a judge from each member state elected for a single, non-renewable term of nine years by the Parliamentary Assembly and is headed by the elected President of the Court. The current President of the Court is Guido Raimondi from Italy. The Court takes into consideration the importance and urgency of the issues raised when deciding the order in which cases are to be dealt with.

5) The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the pan-European political assembly representing local and regional authorities from the forty-seven member states of the Council of Europe, established in 1994. Its role is to promote local and regional democracy, improve their governance and strengthen authorities’ self-government, according to the principles laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It is made up of two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions and holds its plenary sessions twice a year at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg, where its permanent Secretariat is located.

6) The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and impartial non-judicial institution established in 1999 by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the 47 member states. The activities of this institution focus on three major areas: country visits and dialogue with national authorities and civil society; thematic studies and advice on systematic human rights work; awareness-raising activities. The current Commissioner is Nils Muižnieks, who began his six-year mandate on April 1, 2012. The Commissioner seeks to engage in permanent dialogue with member states, continually raising awareness about human rights issues.

7) The conference of INGOs- The Council of Europe’s work benefits extensively from contacts and co-operation with the dynamic elements of society, as represented by NGOs. They focus on Relations with international NGOs (INGOs) and Civil society programs with partner NGOs.


CoE’s Aims, Values and Achievements:
The Council was set up: Article 1(a) of the Statute states that “The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.”- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law; to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity. Values: promoting Human rights education and professional training, democracy-protection of fundamental freedoms and rights and the rule of law. Achievements: The Council of Europe’s most famous achievement is the European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1950 following a report by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, and followed on from the United Nations ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR). The Convention created the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  I’d like to mention, that there are 200 legally binding European treaties or conventions many of which are open to non-member states such as  leading instruments as the Convention on Cybercrime, the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, Conventions against Corruption and Organized Crime, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

One of the most explicit challenge that the Council of Europe faces has been expressed in recent years’ criticism for not been actively tackling the transgressions of some of its members. The organisation has been called on by both Human Rights Watch and the European Stability Initiative to carry out concrete actions for returning to its original mission to protect and ensure human rights. European Court of Human Rights tends to have the difficulty of managing controversial judgements. The CoE’s Committee of Ministers argued in the ninth annual report: “A first challenge is the continued increase of cases pending for more than 5 years. Whilst these cases accounted for some 20% of the total at the end of 2011, by the end 2015 they accounted for around 55%.” Statistical data shows that Turkey, Russia and Ukraine held the largest share of pending long-term cases with 88, 87 and 43 unresolved 5 year or longer cases respectively.

Another equally important challenge manifests itself in the management of sensitive and complex problems such as deeply rooted prejudices of a social nature involving cases of Roma and/or certain minorities in addition with the issues related to political considerations, national security and regional ‘frozen conflicts’.

Future prospects for the next decade:
Considering the challenges, criticism and feasibility of the organisation, one of the initial steps in future could and should involve elimination or unification of the number of overlapping organisations and committees existing in Europe intervening in the Council of Europe’s competence and tend to be ineffective. Another crucial step which weakens efficiency of the organisation I believe to advance in the next decade involving generalisation of principles relying on broad recommendations rather than drafting vast detailed reports on specific subjects stretching the cases without adequate results. However, it is indeed essential to underline its successful efforts put in engagement of young leaders from across the world, not only Europe, promoting equality, peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law considering the number of projects and forums organized on yearly bases. Larger and more collaborative projects could be expected in the future focusing on mutual development of youth sector in different fields of the Council of Europe’s activities to make the organisation feel alive and more onto the higher level of justice, the rule of law and democracy.

Tamar Buachidze

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The OECD, short for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, aims to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”. It is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 35 member countries, most of which are high-income economies seeking to promote economic development. More specifically, it provides a discussion forum for members to discuss policy solutions to common problems, analyses and provides data on environmental, social and economics developments as well creating economic country reports and policy recommendations.

Historical background
The roots of the OECD reach back all the way to war-torn Europe after World War II where it was created in 1948 under the name the OEEC, the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. The organisation was tasked with facilitating the Marshall Plan in rebuilding Europe after the post war destruction, and succeeded in impressing on separate governments the fact that their economies were interconnected.

As the reconstruction of post-war Europe was largely completed in the late 1950s, it was decided after some internal struggle within the organisation to make the OECD’s mandate global. The first non-European signatories to sign the convention were the US and Canada. The OECD convention came into force in 1961, marking the creation of the organisation as we know it today.

After the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe, the organisation focused its attention on assisting Eastern European countries which had previously been in the USSR bloc and thus not included under the Marshall plan. In particular the Visegrad Group.

After the fall of the USSR in the 1990s, the OECD experienced a new surge in membership as many countries who had recently joined the European Union also joined. In the early 2000s and later, the OECD began opening discussions for enlargement of cooperation with non-members. This enlargement is an ongoing process, where several countries have expressed interest in being included, such as Peru, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.

The OECD’s headquarters are in Paris, France, and its official working languages are French and English. The Secretariat staff is around 2500 people and is headed by Angel Gurria.

Today the OECD’s 35 permanent members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israël, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The OECD is organised into a Council Secretariat, and Committees.

The Council has the main decision making power, consisting of one representative per member country as well as one representative from the European Commission. The meetings are chaired by the Secretary General and decisions are made on a consensus basis.

The Secretariat is the Paris based headquarters headed by Angel Gurría, which support the work of the committees.

Representatives and experts also meet in specialised committees to discuss and review issues and develop ideas in specific policy areas, such as finance, environmental protection or employment. There are around 250 committees and focus groups.

The OECD’s working method consists of data collection, followed by discussion and analysis eventually leading to peer reviews of the country’s performance in the reviewed area. Of the organisation’s many activities, the most important feature and perhaps its trademark is policy analysis and review, which is done in all its designated departments

  • Development Co-operation Directorate
  • Economics Department
  • Directorate for Education and Skills
  • Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
  • Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism
  • Environment Directorate
  • Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs
  • Directorate for Public Governance
  • Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation
  • Statistics Directorate
  • Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
  • Trade and Agriculture Directorate

Future Prospects
The OECD celebrated its 50 year anniversary in 2011, which the organisation used as an opportunity to reaffirm is founding goals and set out a vision for the future. The organisation needs to continue it rigorous policy analysis work as it seeks to keep promoting good practises in economic, social and environmental fields.

“As we go forward, the OECD will operate as a results-oriented, rigorous but flexible network based on high standards with the goal of developing effective and innovative policy choices for governments around the world.”

One of the biggest questions for the organisation’s future is enlargement, which is an ongoing process. The organisation has faced criticism on the basis of its membership being narrow, reserved primarily for high-income nations. This situation likely calls for closer cooperation with nations outside the OECD’s traditional interest group, something that would increase its legitimacy and give it steadier footing in what continues to be a very interconnected world. Driving an enhanced dialogue with the major nations would grant the organisation more relevance and increase its capability to tackle the problems of economic development and globalisation.

The importance of enhanced cooperation was emphasised in the 50 year anniversary as embedded in the vision for the organisation’s future.

In 2007 the Ministerial Council decided to cooperate more extensively with Brazil, China, South Africa and Indonesia through enhanced engagement, meaning that although they are not OECD member countries, they still participate actively in the organisation’s activities and take part in a policy dialogue. Second, the OECD is also looking for new member states, with a special focus on South East Asia. With some countries are also participating as observers and increased cooperation with other organisations like the World Bank, the OECD seems to be investing in enlarging the boundaries of its cooperation and membership.

Nicole Gefvenberg

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Spanning the region from Vancouver to Vladivostok, the OSCE promotes security in 57 states in North America, Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. The participating states enjoy equal status and take decisions by consensus.

Historical background:
The OSCEs roots go back to the Cold War détente of the early 1990s. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was established, a multilateral forum to foster dialogue between East and West, which was also known as Helsinki Process. After two years of negotiation in Helsinki and Geneva, the CSCE reached agreement on the Helsinki Final Act, signed on 1 August 1975 by 35 states. The participating states made a number of commitments in this document and divided them into three CSCE areas of activity. The first covers political and military aspects of security. The second comprises economic and environmental aspects of security, including economic development, science, technology and environmental protection. And the third one involves human aspects of security. The participating states also established by that time ten fundamental principles, known as Helsinki Decalogue, governing the behaviour towards their citizens, as well as towards each other.

From its establishment until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that extended the commitment of the participating states. With the end of the Cold War the CSCE underwent a major transformation. In the Summit of Paris in November 1990, the Paris Charter for a New Europe was adopted and CSCE was challenged upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period. Moreover, this led to the establishment of CSCE permanent institutions, including the Secretariat and the Conflict Prevention Centre.

The first field operations were deployed in the Balkans in 1992.

With the institutionalization process, also the name Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was changed to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in 1994 Budapest Summit of Heads of states or government.

Since its establishment the OSCE has experienced a number of challenges in attaining and maintaining regional peace, stability and democratic development. During this time the participating states recognized that conflicts within states can pose as much of a threat as conflicts between states and for this reason, in Istanbul Summit in 1999, the Leaders of the participating states adopted The Charter for European Security.

Decision-making bodies and institutions:
The Permanent Council is OSCEs regular decision-making body, as well as The Forum for Security Co-operation, where decisions are taken regarding military aspects of security. The ambassadors meet each week to make decisions. A Ministerial Council is held annually to review OSCE activities and provide overall directions. To set priorities at highest political level, the Heads of State or Government of OSCE have periodically Summits.

Chairmanship – The OSCE Chairmanship is held each year by a different participating state. That country’s foreign minister is the Chairperson-in-office and works alongside with the Troika, the previous and succeeding Chairmanships.

Secretariat – is based in Vienna (Austria). The head of Secretariat is the Secretary General, who directly supports the Chairmanship. The Secretariat comprises the Conflict Prevention Centre and departments and units focusing on economic and environmental activities, co-operation with Partner countries and organizations, gender equality, anti-trafficking, as well as transnational threats including anti-terrorism, border management and policing reform. They monitor trends, provide expert analysis and implement projects in the field.

High Commissioner on National Minorities
is based in The Hague. Through quiet diplomacy seeks resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, security and stability.

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is based in Warsaw and promotes democratic development and human rights. Areas of its work include election observation, the rule of law, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination and improving the situation of Roma and Sinti. ODIHR hosts the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, the largest annual human rights conference in the OSCE region.

Representative on Freedom of the Media is based in Vienna and observes media developments and provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom, promoting full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments.

The Parliamentary Assembly is made up from more than 300 lawmakers from the 57 OSCE participating states. They come together to facilitate dialogue and co-operation and to promote accountability. OSCE parliamentarians also play a leading role in the Organization’s election observation activities, conduct field visits, and drive organizational reform.

The OSCE approaches security through three dimensions:

  • The politico-military
  • The economic and environmental and
  • The Human

With the politico-military matters, the OSCE seeks to create greater openness, transparency and co-operation and has developed the world’s most advanced regime of arms control and confidence building measures. Areas of work include security sector reform and the safe storage and destruction of small arms, light weapons and conventional ammunition.

The Economic and environmental issue is also a very important factor in building security. In this area, the OSCE helps by promoting good governance, tackling corruption, environmental awareness, sharing natural resources and sound management of environmental waste.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are very important to stable societies. The OSCE helps its participating States build democratic institutions; hold genuine and transparent democratic elections; ensure respect for human rights, media freedom, the rights of national minorities and the rule of law, and promote tolerance and non-discrimination.

Apart from the three dimensions above, OSCE has also its cross-dimension activities. Within this dimension the OSCE works towards gender equality and engages with youth across its peace and security agenda, and promotes human rights compliant, comprehensive and co-operative approaches to managing migration and refugee flows.

The OSCEs field operations assist host countries and their mandates are agreed by consensus of the participating States. The field operations support host countries in developing their capacities through projects that respond their needs. These include initiatives to support law enforcement, minority rights, legislative reform, the rule of law and media freedom, promote tolerance and non-discrimination, as well as many other areas. Some field operations also monitor and report on developments on the ground. A number of field operations, enabling them to manage crises and to play a critical post-conflict role.

OSCE Future:
The future plans to build a stronger OSCE for a secure Europe are the following:

Building on Ministerial Council Decision 3/11. The Ministerial Council Decision No 3/11 was adopted five years ago in Vilnius, on elements of the conflict cycle. Here are concrete steps needed to adapt the organization to the new and potential future challenges of multidimensional and complex conflict situations. OSCE also needs the capacity to operate complex surveillance and other technologies for monitoring, verification and early warnings.

The Rationale of the OSCE: Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution. The goal of OSCE activities across the entire conflict cycle is to prevent the outbreak of violent conflicts and to work towards lasting solutions to existing conflicts in the OSCE area in a peaceful and negotiated manner, within agreed formats, the equal application of agreed principles, and in full observance of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law.

Making the best use of existing tools: field operations, institutions, secretariat and OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly. Like other OSCE institutions and units have a wide array of tools at its disposal for providing multidimensional responses to tensions and conflicts in the OSCE area, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s contribution to mediation and effective response to crisis and conflicts should also be recognised and OSCE executive structures should be encouraged to make the best use of the OSCE’s parliamentary dimension when addressing the conflict cycle.

Besides the changes above, OSCE also plans to further develop early warning, to further strengthen the mediation, to increase confidence-building and reconciliation, to build on the OSCE’s civilian and comprehensive approach, to establish an effective crisis-funding mechanism, to improve command and control, to develop a flexible mechanism for in-house planning capacity, to build on international cooperation, as well as to prevent violence against women in conflict situations.

As OSCE plays a key role in the European Security, in March 2016 a panel discussion took place in Rome, where the EU and OSCE members defined clearly the long-term objectives and visions.

The result was:

  • “The crisis in and around Ukraine illustrated that the OSCE continues to play a crucial role in the European security architecture. Its comprehensive toolbox, large and well-established field presence, and its role as a forum for inclusive security dialogue as well as a platform for joint action remain key comparative advantages of the Organization.
  • The EU-OSCE partnership should be more strategic. The EU member states need to have a joint vision of long-term objectives they would like to achieve by acting in and with the OSCE. They should empower the OSCE and clearly and consistently articulate what role and added value the OSCE has from the EU’s perspective.
  • The forthcoming EU Global Strategy should express strong support for the OSCE, including its normative foundations and its model of co-operative security.
  • Strengthening the EU’s engagement within the OSCE would be beneficial for both organizations. The EU should use the OSCE’s capacities and expertise more actively (“smart multilateralism”), in particular the OSCE’s Field Operations in Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Central Asia.
  • The EU needs to find a new modus vivendi for dealing with Russia that should be based on pragmatic co-operation in areas of common interest, including both global and European issues (e.g., infrastructure, energy sector, research, Arctic).
  • From a long-term perspective, Europe’s primary goal should be reaching a sustainable political settlement with Russia through a robust diplomatic process as recommended by the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security.
  • Some findings and recommendations of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security could serve as an important source of inspiration for efforts to return to a climate of co-operative security within Europe.”

Edina Paleviq

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional, intergovernmental collaboration between Eurasian state actors in the fields of economy and politics, with an extended focus on security policies. The involved countries are China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, and Pakistan. The SCO was founded on 15 June 2001 and has its current seat in Beijing, China. With its biggest members being Russia and China, the SCO’s official languages are Chinese and Russian. The following report will give a brief introduction in the organisation’s history, missions, and structure, as well as internal challenges. In the end, the future prospect and potential development of the SCO will be evaluated.

Historical Background & External Relations

The SCO originally emerged from the “Shanghai Five”, a cooperation between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan starting in 1996, and transformed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001 with the admission of Uzbekistan into the organisation. The Charter of the SCO, containing regulations, aims, and structural formalities, was signed in June 2002 and enacted on 19 September 2003. By that, the organisation also embedded itself in international law.

The Shanghai Five started their collaboration based on security policies, facing their newly established, shared borders after the end of the Soviet Union. In 1996, the five founding countries China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan signed the Treaty of Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions, followed by the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in 1997. The initial aim was to secure each other’s geographical and political sphere and cooperate in terms of a peaceful coexistence.

Ever since, the participating head of states gather in annual summits to widen the prospects of the cooperation and add new political dimensions. In 2000, the Shanghai Five took first efforts to work jointly beyond security policies and extended their cooperative scope for the protection of human rights, each other’s sovereignty, “territorial integrity” as well as political independence and stability. With the admission of Uzbekistan in 2001, the organisation transformed into the “Shanghai Six”, before eventually signing the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on 15 June 2001.

Four years later, external state representatives attended the annual summit of the SCO, namely the prospective members India and Pakistan, as well as Iran and Mongolia. In 2017, after the yearslong accession procedures, India and Pakistan finally joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, thereby becoming their latest members. The SCO also started to engage in international, external relations in 2004, when it developed ties with the United Nations. In the following years, the organisation created bonds with ASEAN (2005), the Commonwealth of Independent States (2005), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2015), and many others. Besides the 8 permanent members, there are several other states, as Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Belarus, seeking for a membership and functioning as “observer states”.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation perceived its core responsibilities initially in the fields of military defence cooperation and mutual security protection. By now, the organisation additionally engages in joint collaborations in diplomacy, trade, culture, and humanitarian aid. According to the SCO, recent years fortified their shared efforts in fields of technology, education, energy, transportation, banking as well as environmental protection and the preservation of the “neighbourliness among the member states”. The superior mission since the beginning of the organisation is the maintenance of “peace, security and stability” in their Eurasian sphere of influence. The SCO member states hereby official share values of a democratic world order.


Another key aspect of the cooperation is described as “mutual trust, mutual benefit, […] mutual consultations”, referring to the equal involvement of all member states in the decision-making processes of the SCO. The main decision-making body is hereby the Heads of State Council, which determines the SCO’s external relations and the general activities and priorities of the organisation. The Heads of Government Council holds annual submits to discuss the economic collaborations and the SCO’s budget plan. The daily activities and regular meetings are coordinated by the Foreign Ministers Council. Below these three hierarchical pillars, there are several sublevels of coordination, divided by topics and the regularity of meetings. The permanent bodies of the SCO are the Secretariat in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The representatives in each of those bodies change every three years.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation became increasingly active in more diverse fields of policy-making. Nevertheless, the SCO requires a facilitation of cooperation on the levels of decision-making procedures and its economic, internal and external relations. Besides its various achievements, the organisation reportedly lacks some efficiency in the execution of declared policies and displayed a slow implementation of its decisions in the past.

These current challenges can be explained by the higher number of participating countries, and their disagreements due to the different traditions and natures of each’s policy making. With the current 8 members of the SCO, 8 different kinds of political, historical, and cultural understanding encounter each other, occasionally causing tensions in the day-to-day decisions of the organisation.

Besides the internal structural challenges, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation also faces contemporary, external obstacles for an efficient collaboration, such as international terrorism and religious extremism. Especially in prospect member countries, like Afghanistan, the latter poses a challenge to the political stability and peace-keeping efforts of the Eurasian organisation. The SCO requires a more precise guidance in regards to handling and coordinating international disputes among their own members and external partners. The coordination of transboundary challenges, like illegal immigration and drug trafficking, poses a further challenge to the competences in decision-making procedures among the members.

Experts as well as critics demand a stronger leadership position from China and Russia, the SCO’s biggest members. However, to achieve a more balanced leadership behaviour, these two founding states firstly need to improve the political relations between each other. The SCO generally requires a strengthened trust and commitment among its members to facilitate their cooperation in security politics and economic collaboration. One way to achieve these aims might be the enhancement of mutual cultural understanding and the balancing of each’s different governing styles.

Future Prospects for the next decade

Similar to the current challenges of the SCO, its future development is potentially marked by its issues of decision-making, implementation, and the region’s representation. Contemporary challenges as international terrorism are expected to continue in following years which will require the SCO to find new ways to coordinate transboundary problems among their current and prospect member states. Additionally, the Shanghai Organisation Cooperation is expected to grow regarding its members, as more and more countries apply for the observer’s or dialogue partner’s positions. Since 2012, 12 more states signalled their interest in becoming affiliated with the organisation. Among them are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Egypt, and the Ukraine. The expansion of the SCO might be accompanied by further issues of coordination and decision-making. Also in regards of stability in regions as Syria, Egypt, and the Ukraine, the SCO might have to reconsider their role of balancing, or withdrawing from the political upheavals of the Middle Eastern and East European regions. To determine its own role and guiding power, as well as peace-building and -keeping abilities in new areas, the SCO first must understand its positions within its current formation.

In addition to these upcoming challenges, prospect member countries as the Ukraine might potentially cause more tensions among the SCO relations, especially with Russia. It remains to be seen if the collaboration within the framework of the SCO facilitates Ukraine-Russian relations or, on the contrary, inhibits the efficiency of the organisation itself.

In regards to its relations to the West, the SCO might take efforts to counter-balance organisations as the United Nations or the NATO, to benefit from its own geopolitical position, and utilise its large military and economic capacity. The SCO displays a great potential of self-empowerment, but must therefore solve a variety of internal issues and structural unevenness first by developing a stronger unity in a joint action guideline.

The SCO might hereby benefit from the European Union as a role model in terms of its historical emergence. As the EU in its beginning as the EEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation could foster its economic collaboration, as well as continue its common security mission. As a result, the organisation and its members might approach each other more easily within political cohesion and a joint coordination of internal and external politics. The SCO is already following this path by engaging more in trade and technology development with one another in recent years. Also, projects of cultural exchange and education have been fostered by the members of the SCO. With years to come, the SCO inherits the potential to create stronger diplomatic ties and a joint political policy-making within its internal spheres. As for external relations, the SCO requires this internal stability and unity before its enlargement may lead to a coherent representation of the Eurasian region and beyond.

Lisa Maria Kuke

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization is designed for opening trade opportunities across countries through negotiations. Based on trade rules accepted commonly by member countries, WTO creates a framework in which countries economical aspirations can be served. It is a worldwide intergovernmental organization, regulating trade between 164 member countries.

Historical background:
The WTO was officially established in 1995 under the Marrakesh agreement signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, after taking over the principles of the former GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) agreement. Its current work originates from certain previous trade arrangements, such as the Urugay Round from 1986-1994. Currently, it is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round (launched in 2001) emphasizing the importance of growth in developing countries. It is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the period of GATT, which began its work in 1947, the idea was to create an environment for trade talks, but without materialising. Eight trade talk rounds took place during this time, each focused on tariff reduction and on other trade barriers. The last one was the Urugay Round, starting in 1986, at a summit in Punta del Este, and concluded in 1994, Marrakesh. The Urugay Round is best known about establishing WTO. Beyond this, it was also dealing with ending textile quotas, agriculture subsidies, and two agreements (Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights and the General Agreement on Trades in Services).
After the establishment of WTO, for many years trade talks can’t be noticed, as members could not agree on such agendas for a new round. There were several attempts though, such as in Singapore, 1996, but rich countries could not agree with developing ones in case of the nature of implications. Developed countries delighted the importance of investor rights, competition policy, while developing ones would ensure their growth with other types of measures. Similar endeavours were expressed on the next two meetings in 1988 and 1999, but those were not successful either. Moreover, several civil organisations expressed their concerns about the predominance of the interests of rich countries, but these were misleading, as all members have to agree in order to implement such rules.

In the 2000s, health issues erupted in Brazil, Thailand and South Africa, as these countries urgently needed low cost medication in order to treat AIDS/HIV. Pharma patents, due to TRIPS, were protected, but during the Doha Round officially launched in 2001, rulers made an exception, by making the health patents breakable, allowing developing countries to get medications at a lower price, as essential medication is often not affordable due to intellectual property rights.
Beyond these issues, the Doha Round is also designed for reducing agricultural subsidies, allowing better circumstances for developing countries which are dependent on agriculture. However, rich nations put Singapore issues on the agenda again, knowing that developing countries will refuse trade talks on these matters, the topic of intellectual property still belongs to the issues on negotiation.  During the talks, lower trade rules and trade barriers are also revised, to achieve better trade circumstances for nations.

The Ministerial Conference
is the top decision making body, meeting in every two years. All members can took part in the Conference, having authority to take decisions on all matters in the coverage of any multilateral trade agreement. The latest Ministerial Conference took place in Nairobi in December 2015. The result of the conference was the so-called “Nairobi package”, focusing on issues related to least-developed countries and agriculture.

On the second level, three bodies are operating beyond the Conferences, in order to maintain a day-to-day work. One of the functional bodies is the General Council, designed to act on behalf of the ministerial conferences, allowing ambassadors to represent their countries.  Ambassador Harald NEPLE from Norway fills the current chair position. The general Council meets regularly in Geneva with the other two bodies, The Dispute Settlement Body and The Trade Policy Review Body, to analyse trade trends and allow disputes between member states.

On the third level, we can find numerous councils, representing each area of trade, such as The Council for Trade in Goods (Goods Council), The Council for Trade in Services (Services Council), and The Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council). All of them are preparing reports directly to the General Council, such as six more Committee bodies, but with less extent, delivering issues in connection with environment, regional trading arrangements, development, trade negotiation etc. All countries are represented in these bodies. At this level, there are two plurilateral bodies as well, including not all of the members, but informing the General Council of their work.

Any state having the authority to operate with its trade have the right to join the WTO, but after concluding a process of negotiations, in which all countries agree on particular terms. The Accessions Intelligence Portal is established to follow through and help in these negotiation processes.

Since the 2008 crisis, WTO is facing several challenges, such as though criticism about the non-respect of deadlines and default negotiations. However, according to International trade expert Thomas Cottier, the organization is not less significant, as trade negotiations and dispute settlement carry an important role. It also presents the world court regarding international and more special trade agreements.

Cottier picks coordination as a possible fault, due to the fact that fragmentation trot out by preferential trade agreements, such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are making WTO’s work less extensive. In order to overcome the fragmentation, this problem can be treated by future changes in the arrangement, such as stronger ties with other Partnerships and informing future negotiations inside the WTO.

More several threats can be noticed, such as the shift in balance of power and different visions of the future aspects. Referring to historical dissidence, the differences between developing and developed nations are still existing. The vision supported by developing countries emphasize the process of catching up by avoiding negotiation opportunities due to the fear of putting too much pressure on these countries, while the other vision focuses on development and modern trade, including global value chains. Regarding the shift in balance, emerging markets in world trade and investment (China) can move the North and West balance to the East and South, damaging the western structure.

 Violetta Vaski

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 Series Editor: Andras Lorincz | Executive Publisher: Csilla Morauszki

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