Digital topics in Samarkand Declaration

Digital topics feature in 16 out of 120 points in the Samarkand Declaration, adopted on 16th September 2022 at the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The main focus is on the security, economic, and governance aspects of digitalisation.

You can consult annotated analysis for the Samarkand Declaration.

Samarkand Declaration is dominated by the security issues. Heads of states invited for the cooperation in international information security, and reiterated the central role of the UN in countering threats in the information space, creating a safe, fair and open information space, with respect of principles of state sovereignty and non-interference. Member states were “categorically against the militarization of the ICT sphere”, in support of development of universal rules, principles and norms of responsible behavior of states (discussed by the UN Open-ended Working Group, although no direct reference to the group was made). In terms of internet governance, Declaration emphasised “equal rights of all countries to regulate the Internet and the sovereign right of States to manage it in their national segment”.

Declaration also invited for a comprehensive international convention on combating the use of ICTs for criminal purposes under the auspices of the UN (currently discussed by the UN Ad-hoc Committee on cybercrime, although no direct reference to it was made). In practical terms, states called for enhanced law enforcement cooperation aimed at protecting human rights and countering contemporary challenges including the criminal use of ICTs, as well as practical cooperation on law and justice and forensic science.

Threat posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism in all forms, including the spread of such messages and the recruitment of youth, were particularly emphasised. SCO heads invited for the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on Combating International Terrorism, with the key role played by the UN.

Samarkand Declaration also focused on international trade. It called for promotion of an open global economy, opposing protectionist measures and trade restrictions, and strengthening the effectiveness of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Of particular relevance for SCO states is strengthening cooperation on e-commerce, to increase employment.

Digitalisation, infrastructure development and technology innovations were also addressed. Declaration suggested that the creative economy could become one of the components of developing the SCO’s innovative potential. Some of the practical measures included strengthening the scientific and technological cooperation and potential of technoparks, developing the innovation ecosystem, conducting joint research, and implementing projects in field of digital, innovative and energy-saving technologies, agriculture, finances and health including telemedicine. To support this, competitive technological infrastructure is required, and cooperation in the field of digital learning in view of the trends of the world economy in the era of digital globalization.