UNESCO (Source: Time)

Regional Organizations of the World

Suraj Verma
7 min readApr 22, 2021


International organizations consist of a group of nations who join together for a common cause. For example, UNESCO’s mission (primarily) is to contribute to maintaining peace around the world, assisting in the eradication of poverty, and following sustainable development.

Similarly, other international organizations like WTO (World Trade Organization) ensures that trade is happening smoothly around the world. International organizations work on a global level.

Regional organizations also work similarly for similar causes based on their geographic needs, but they usually group up based on their geographic region.

Let us have a look at some of the most well-known organizations in the continents:

ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations)

ASEAN (Source: The Jakarta Post)

It was founded in 1967 by 5 countries namely Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It currently has ten members with HQ in Jakarta(Indonesia). It was formed to promote political, economic, social, and regional stability. In the year 2000, free trade agreements were signed with India, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. India and ASEAN have been Dialogue Partners for years.

Free trade policy refers to selling goods or services to other countries with little or no government tax imposed.

The 3 pillars of the ASEAN Community as per 2015 norms are the Political-Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community.

In ASEAN led meetings, if they meet with :

  • 1 country — ASEAN + 1 Meet
  • 3 countries — EAST ASIA CAUCASUS Meet
  • 6 countries — RCEP Meet

APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)

APEC (Source: Antara News)

It is a regional economic forum established in 1989 by 12 countries. It was established to leverage the interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies. It currently has 21 members with HQ in Singapore. APEC’s 21 also promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

India requested membership in APEC and did receive support from 3 countries but was later declined.

India doesn’t share any border or has a reach in the Pacific Ocean, unlike other members which do.

However, India was invited by the US to be an observer for the first time in an APEC forum in November 2011. It was held in Hawaii.

SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization)

SCO (Source: Foreign Brief)

It is a Eurasian intergovernmental organization that was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by 6 countries. Earlier it was known as the Shanghai five (1996) but with the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001 it was renamed SCO. The HQ is located in Beijing, China.

The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.

India and Pakistan became members in 2017 contributing to the total strength and incrementing it to 8 countries.

The prime objectives are to promote peace in the region, cooperation in trade, politics, culture, technology.

With Russia and China as prime members of SCO, the organization is seen as a counterweight to NATO.

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)

BIMSTEC (Source: Online Khabar)

It was established in the year 1997 in Bangkok by 4 countries namely: India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh. Currently, it has 7 members with 5 from South-Asia and 2 from South-East Asia.

It was brought to existence by the Bangkok Declaration but with the inclusion of other members, it was renamed BIMSTEC. Its HQ is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The prime objective of BIMSTEC is to maintain technological, trade cooperation among the South Asian and South-East Asian countries.

It also allows India to counter China’s influence in the Bay of Bengal and other initiatives.

SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation)

SAARC (Source: The Kathmandu Post)

It is the geopolitical union of 8 nations in South Asia. It currently has 9 observers including heavyweights like the US, China, EU.

It was founded in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 8th December 1985. The HQ of SAARC is located in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The organization promotes the development of social, economic, technical, and scientific fields. Also to strengthen trust among member nations and improve self-reliance are its prime objectives.

India-Pak tensions have been a constant challenge for SAARC members since it violates peace.

SAPTA which stands for South Asia Preferential Trading Agreement came into effect in 1995 to promote trade amongst the members.

SAFTA is a free trade agreement that was initiated in 2016 to promote free trade among the member nations. Though it has not been successfully implemented in 2020 due to conflicting views.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

NATO (Source: Kennedy School Review)

It was formed on April 4, 1949, under the Washington Treaty with 12 founding members. Its HQ is located in Brussels, Belgium. It’s a military alliance organization currently consisting of 30 members including the US. It was formed to counter USSR’s dominance in the world.

USSR later formed the Warsaw Pact to counter NATO.

France which is one of the founding members of NATO withdrew its position from the military command (though remained a member) of NATO in 1966 due to stressed relations with the US (related to Nuclear weapons). Charles de Gaulle was the French president at that time. But France resumed its position in the military command in 2009.

The main article that defines the purpose of NATO is its Article-5 which says that :

“An armed attack against one or more of the NATO members would be considered an attack against them all. If such a case happens then NATO members would align and assist each other to maintain peace in the North Atlantic region.”

It was invoked for the first time in 2001 during the 9/11 attacks on the US.

India is currently not a NATO member.

GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)

GCC (Source: TRT World)

It is an alliance of the Arab countries in Middle-East Asia for cultural, political, and social integrity. It was formed on 25th May 1981 and currently has 6 members. The HQ of GCC is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Peninsular Shield Force which was formed in 1984 is the military arm of the GCC and it safeguards military aggression on any fellow member of GCC.

The member countries of GCC are among the richest countries of the world as their prime source of revenue is oil and gas. Any conflict in the middle east region severely alters the oil prices of the world.

As of 2020, the IMF estimates the net financial wealth of the GCC is around 2 trillion $.

The GCC is one of the largest trading partners of India.

The member countries of GCC are also a part of the Arab League. A.L is a regional organization of the Arab world which currently has 22 member countries from various parts including the Middle East and Africa. Countries like Libya and Syria were suspended in 2011 from the Arab League.

India is currently an observer state in the Arab League.

EU (European Union)

EU (Source: ABC News)

It currently has 28 member countries with the HQ in Brussels, Belgium.

It was formed on 1st November 1993 under ‘The Maastricht Treaty’ though the European countries were associated with each other since WWII ended so that they can promote peace in the region and be the face of all of Europe.

The economic cooperation led to the establishment of a single currency euro in the region.

In 2016 a referendum was held by the UK government to leave the EU. One of the reasons was that this would enable the UK to completely take its own decisions and to regain control over immigration and its borders. In Jan 2020, UK officially left the EU. This exit was popularly called ‘Brexit’.

The “Treaty of Lisbon” which was signed in December 2007 gave the members the right to leave the EU.

EU is also one of the largest trading partners of India.

AU (African Union)

AU (Source: Anadolu Agency)

It was in the 1960s when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed in the year 1963. Later it was replaced by African Union on 9th July 2002. The HQ of AU is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The prime objectives of AU are to achieve greater unity among the African nations and work together to accelerate the growth of the member nations and encourage international cooperation.

There are currently 55 members in AU.

Nigeria is one of the richest countries in Africa.

India is one of the largest trading partners of Africa with India exporting tons of goods offering services.

African Union (AU) members have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for goods and services which is a free trade agreement among the African nations. As of now, 30 members have already ratified the agreement. The agreement was signed at the 12th AU Summit in 2019.

I would like to thank my readers for dropping here. I hope the time you spent reading my article has been fruitful.😊



Suraj Verma

Developer & Programmer (who loves writing about social sciences & world politics)