Indian Ocean Rim Association Leaders’ Summit

Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari represented India in the 1st Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Leaders’ Summit in Jakarta.

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of IORA, the meet focused on ‘Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean’.

Leaders from member states (Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen) and dialogue partners (China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States) deliberated on the future trajectory of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.

Myanmar was a special invitee at the event.

Following the discussions at the ministerial meeting, the Jakarta Concord was signed. The objective is to support regional cooperation in this critically important geo-strategic space.

Three documents were adopted during the Summit. The first was the IORA Concord that was signed by the Leaders and lays out the vision of IORA for the future, focussing in particular on cooperation among the 21 IORA member states on maritime safety and security.

The two other documents adopted were the “Declaration on Preventing Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism” and the “Action Plan of IORA for the next 5 years”.

IORA states have committed to promote maritime safety, augment trade and investment, stimulate Blue Economy, support sustainable fisheries management and development, improve disaster risk management, and buttress academic collaborations.

India suggested building think tank linkages to bring forth the available resources which in turn will ease the efforts of individual IORA members. India plans to institute IORA Centre of Excellence (ICE) with the objective of providing data.

Indian Ocean hosts critical sea lanes for international trade. With 2.3 billion people and wealth of natural resources, it presents enormous opportunities for development. In this context, India’s Project ‘Mausam’, aimed at rejuvenating cultural linkages, and other innovative arrangements were highlighted.

The Indian Vice President said IORA members need to safeguard the freedom of navigation and over-flight in maritime space. India stressed the importance of White Shipping Agreements in averting possible sea-based threats.

Furthermore, India’s willingness to host an Information Fusion Centre aimed at strengthening Maritime Domain Awareness and sharing hydrographical capability with IORA states for improved navigation was emphasized.

In January 2017; the Indian Ministry of Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) signed a MoU with IORA member states for facilitating exchange of best practices and policies for MSME development and economic empowerment of youth and women.

India hosted the 11th Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation’s (IOR-ARC) meeting in Bengaluru in 2011 where member states recognized six primacy areas for cooperation including maritime safety and security; trade and investment; fisheries management; disaster risk reduction; academic and S&T cooperation; and tourism and cultural exchanges.