MUMBAI: Thirty nine delegates from 22 member nations converged in Mumbai to participate in¬†the Operational Seminar¬†and Preparatory Workshop – 2013 on the theme, ‘Roles and Expectations of Emerging Navies in Cooperative Engagement for Peace and¬†Stability¬†in IOR’. The seminar and preparatory workshop, was conducted under the IONS construct is hosted by the Western Naval Command at Mumbai on September 11 and 12.¬†
Delivering the keynote address, Dr C Raja Mohan, distinguished fellow at¬†the Observer Research Foundation, highlighted three important imperatives demanding greater maritime security cooperation in the IOR “First, the changing global distribution of power leading to deepened divisions amongst the world’s leading nations thereby complicating management of the global maritime commons. Second, pressures on the defence budget compelling downsizing of armed forces thereby restricting maritime powers from delivering public goods in the maritime domain. Third, the growing stakes of the littoral states and the opportunity provided by the IONS construct for the region to reclaim its maritime destiny”.
The changing geo-political situation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in the last decades, has acted as a stimulus for the littoral nations to look seaward.¬†Inception¬†of a maritime construct, linking the Indian Ocean littorals, in¬†the form of Indian Ocean Naval¬†Symposium (IONS) in 2008 was, therefore, viewed by the IOR littorals as an important milestone in the maritime security cooperation within the IOR. Since its inception, IONS has generated significant interest and contributed in immense measure towards providing a platform for all IOR littoral navies to periodically and regularly discuss issues that bear upon regional maritime security and cooperation. Whilst, the IOR is the ‘centre of gravity’ in the world’s geopolitical stage, its littorals are primarily nations with developing maritime security forces that are still in different stages of capability enhancement and capability building.
With maritime security being the primary focus of IONS, it is imperative that the concerns of the emerging navies of the region are addressed comprehensively. For this to happen, it is essential that IOR littorals interact and cooperatively engage in all aspects of maritime security so as to ensure credible and lasting peace and stability in our combined area of interest, i.e., the Indian Ocean Region.
The IONS Sseminar leads on to the preparatory workshop on September 12 involving discussions on issues pertaining to furthering cooperation between the IONS member nations in the disciplines of anti-piracy, MDA (maritime domain awareness) and HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief). The forum would also be used to undertake deliberations on the IONS Charter of Business and framing agenda for the forthcoming IONS Conclave of Naval Chiefs, scheduled to be held in Perth, Australia in March 2014.