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Indian Ocean: IORA’s Crucial Role amidst heightened presence of Global Powers


Why is it in the news?

  • With the escalating presence of non-resident global powers such as the US (which has a military base in Diego Garcia Island) and Russia (engaging in military exercises with Myanmar) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the significance of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is expected to grow.

Factors that contribute to the enhanced presence of global powers in the IOR

  • Maritime Chokepoints: Key transit points like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca are vital for facilitating the smooth flow of trade, energy, and ensuring security through unhindered movement.
  • Geostrategic Competition: The Indo-Pacific has emerged as an integrated maritime theatre where competing interests between China and other democracies supporting a rules-based order contribute to the tension. This dynamic enhances the importance of the IOR.
  • Pursuit of Blue Economy: The states bordering the IOR, home to a third of the global population, heavily rely on marine resources. This presents significant opportunities for sustainable economic and livelihood development, motivating global powers to seek involvement.

Challenges that exist within the IOR

  • Naval Aggressions from China: China’s assertive naval activities in the region create security concerns and imbalances of power, making smaller countries reliant on external powers for their security and hindering optimal regional cooperation.
  • Re-emergence of Security Issues: The IOR faces security threats such as piracy and maritime terrorism, necessitating collective efforts to address these concerns effectively.

The role of IORA becomes crucial in this context:

  • Multilateral Grouping: IORA is the only multilateral organization that encompasses the entire Indian Ocean. It provides a platform for inclusive diplomacy, enabling member states to actively participate in negotiations and decision-making processes.
  • Synergy with India’s SAGAR Initiative: IORA, in conjunction with India’s Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) initiative, has the potential to serve as a counterbalance to the China-led ‘China-Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Forum.’
About IORA

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Secretariat: Mauritius

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Genesis: An inter-governmental organization established in 1997, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s vision

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Aim: Strengthen regional cooperation and support sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Members: 23 member countries within the IOR, including India

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Apex body: Council of Foreign Ministers (COM), meets annually

Focus on six priority areas:

1) Maritime Safety and Security

2) Trade and Investment Facilitation

3) Fisheries Management

4) Disaster Risk Management

5) Tourism and Cultural Exchanges

6) Academic, Science, and Technology

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 ‘IORA’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’: Consensus document proposed by India, adopted in 2022 calls for adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 and other relevant UN treaties.

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