INDIAN OCEAN CONFERENCE
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Context: The Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) 2024, formally known as the 7th Indian Ocean Conference, was held on February 9-10, 2024, in Perth, Australia.
- The Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) was held in Perth, Australia, and attended by representatives from 40 countries, including Foreign Ministers from several regional nations.
- The Conference aimed to discuss cooperation and solutions for regional security, economic development, environmental protection, and maritime safety in the Indian Ocean region.
- The conference was sponsored by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- The theme was "Towards a Stable and Sustainable Indian Ocean."
- Concerns about growing "great power rivalry" in the region: This includes the increasing presence of warships and submarines from various countries, particularly the US, China, India, Australia, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. This rivalry is seen as shrinking the decision-making power of smaller island nations and increasing instability in the region.
- Challenges to international rule of law: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar of India specifically referred to China's actions in the South China Sea and disregard for international agreements like UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) as concerning examples.
- Balancing act for smaller countries: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the difficulty for smaller nations to navigate the complex relationships between major powers and avoid being forced to choose sides.
- Concerns about freedom of navigation and overflights: This stems from incidents like Sri Lanka's recent moratorium on foreign research ships due to objections from India about "spy ships."
Key Concerns raised
●Potential for conflict: The increasing militarization and rivalry between major powers raises concerns about the possibility of armed conflict in the region.
●Impact on smaller countries: The concerns of smaller nations losing their decision-making power and getting caught in the crossfire of larger powers were emphasized.
●Disregard for international law: Actions like China's activities in the South China Sea were seen as undermining established international agreements and norms.
●Uncertainty and instability: The overall situation creates uncertainty and instability in the region, impacting trade, security, and regional cooperation.
- Strengthening Regional Institutions: Investing in stronger regional institutions and organizations can facilitate collective action and ensure the effective implementation of agreed-upon solutions.
- Promoting Inclusive Dialogue: Engaging all stakeholders, including civil society and marginalized communities, is crucial for developing sustainable and equitable solutions.
- Investing in the Blue Economy: Sustainable development of the blue economy, encompassing maritime resources and ocean-based industries, can provide economic opportunities while safeguarding the marine environment.
- Climate Action: Collaborative efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts are essential for the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the region.
- Upholding International Law: Adherence to international law and norms governing the maritime domain is crucial for maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean.
- The Indian Ocean Conference plays a vital role in promoting regional cooperation and addressing the diverse challenges faced by countries in the Indian Ocean Region. By bringing together stakeholders from various backgrounds, the conference contributes to fostering dialogue, building partnerships, and advancing the collective interests of countries in the region.
Must Read Articles:
Indian Ocean Conference: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/indian-ocean-conference
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA): https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/indian-ocean-rim-association-iora
Q. The Indian Ocean holds immense potential for renewable energy, sustainable fisheries, and maritime trade. How can the region harness these resources equitably and sustainably while mitigating environmental damage and ensuring responsible governance of the blue economy?