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Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: The Impact of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

This HRIC whitepaper analyzes the counterterrorism policies and practices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group comprising six states with deeply troubling human rights records: China, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It argues that these policies and practices undermine the effectiveness and integrity of the international counterterrorism framework, and enable SCO member states to target their own populations through repressive measures that compromise internationally recognized human rights.

Human Rights in China

Abbreviations Acknowledgments Executive Summary i Recommendations v Methodology ix I. Introduction: Counter-Terrorism, Human Rights, and the SCO 1 II. Overview of the SCO 9 A. SCO structure and decision-making bodies 9 B. Economic cooperation among SCO member states 16 C. Expansion of SCO influence internationally 18 i. Membership 19 ii. Role in regional security and stability 22 iii. Role in addressing Afghanistan conflict 23 iv. Cooperation in non-security sectors 25 v. Cooperation with multilateral organizations 26 III. The International Counter-Terrorism Framework and Human Rights 27 A. The international counter-terrorism framework 31 B. International counter-terrorism bodies and human rights inputs 34 IV. SCO Compliance with the International Framework for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights 39 A. Defining terrorism 40 B. Structural and rhetorical challenges 48 i. Lack of transparency and oversight mechanisms 48 ii. Regional and international frameworks 52 iii. National conditions and relativism 59 C. Human rights records of SCO member states 61 D. China’s influence and impact within the SCO 64 i. The Three Evils doctrine: Counter-terrorism with Chinese characteristics 64 ii. The Three Evils doctrine in practice: Targeting of and impact on Uyghur 69 E. Harmonization of legislation in SCO member states 73Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: The Impact of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization F. SCO policies, operations, and practices: The fourth pillar meets the Three Evils 76 i. Impact of exchange of individual information on the right to privacy and due process 78 1. Blacklists 81 2. RATS Database 88 ii. Impact of extradition and denial of asylum on security of the person, due process rights, and non-refoulement 97 iii. Chilling messages sent by military cooperation 106 V. The SCO’s Engagement with the UN and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 113 VI. Conclusion