This sentiment and rationale underpinned the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in March 1995, and the creation of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (then known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation) two years later, in March 1997.
As the third largest ocean woven together by trade routes, commands control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments, the Indian Ocean remains an important lifeline to international trade and transport.
Home to nearly 2.7 billion people, Member States whose shores are washed by the ocean are rich in cultural diversity and richness in languages, religions, traditions, arts and cuisines.
They vary considerably in terms of their areas, populations and levels of economic development. They may also be divided into a number of sub-regions (Australasia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Eastern & Southern Africa), each with their own regional groupings (such as ASEAN, SAARC, GCC and SADC, to name a few). Despite such diversity and differences, these countries are bound together by the Indian Ocean.
IORA’s apex body is the Council of Foreign Ministers (COM) which meets annually.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) assumed the role of Chair since November 2019 - November 2021, followed by the People's Republic of Bangladesh November 2021 - November 2023. A committee of Senior Officials (CSO) meets twice a year to progress IORA’s agenda and consider recommendations by Working Groups and forums of officials, business and academics to implement policies and projects to improve the lives of people within the Indian Ocean Member States.
The year 2017 is a landmark for IORA, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Association as a proactive inter-governmental organisation with an ever growing importance within the Indian Ocean region. Strengthening the ties that bind Member States whose shores are washed by the Indian Ocean waters, IORA remains committed to build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation through a consensus based evolutionary and non-intrusive approach in the rapid changing environment faced by the region.
Today, IORA is a dynamic organisation of 23 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners, with an ever-growing momentum for mutually beneficial regional cooperation through a consensus-based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach.