The Republic of South Africa, as the current IORA Chair, will host the 18th IORA Council of (Foreign) Ministers Meetings (COM) on 2 November 2018 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province under the theme of “IORA – Uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through Enhanced Co-operation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development”.
The Association serves as an economic cooperative community of littoral and island states whose shores are washed by the Indian Ocean. IORA was established through the vision of former South African President Nelson Mandela, when 14 Member States founded the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in March 1997. This year’s meeting, marks his birth centenary and IORA Ministers will adopt a special Declaration to pay tribute to this global icon. They will thus commemorate his legacy and life, which resonate with the core principles of IORA, as enshrined in the Charter - “ a spirit of multilateralism in which the Association seeks to build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial co-operation through a consensus-based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach”. IORA Ministers will also launch the ‘IORA Nelson Mandela ‘Be the Legacy’ internship programme’ as a contribution to empowering and capacitating the youth of the Indian Ocean region.
The Ministers' meeting will be preceded by the 20th Committee of Senior Officials’ Meeting (CSO) on 30 October to 1 November 2018. The CSO meets twice a year before the Ministers’ annual meeting in order to review progress made by the organisation and to make recommendations for endorsement and approval by the COM. The forthcoming CSO Meeting will receive updates on some of the major projects being implemented under the IORA Action Plan (2017-2021) such as inter alia the preparatory Meetings held to discuss the Terms of Reference (TOR) and the Work Plans of new Working Groups of the Association. They will also consider a number of strategic documents and receive reports on the implementation of the priority areas under the Action Plan.
IORA Dialogue Partners will also participate in a special session with the Senior Officials on 1 November 2018 and during the inaugural session of the COM. They will have the opportunity to share proposals on their participation in the implementation of the IORA Action Plan. The session will also discuss the Declaration on Guidelines for Enhancing Interaction with Dialogue Partners in IORA.
The Association's Membership at present consists of 21 Member States: Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.
IORA is also supported by seven Dialogue Partners: China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America.
IORA has observer status at the United Nations General Assembly, UNCTAD and the African Union. A summary of the meetings' schedule is as follows:
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