The First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka as the current Coordinating Country for Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) in IORA on 8 – 9 August 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group (WGMSS) was established last year at an Initial Workshop held for this purpose on 4 – 5 September 2018, in Sri Lanka.
The Meeting was preceded by a stimulating panel discussion on ‘’Emerging scenarios related to safety and security in the Indian Ocean” that saw the active participation of MSS experts.
The Meeting itself saw an impressive gathering of MSS officials and experts from 16 IORA Member States (Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania), and IORA Secretariat officials.
This Meeting provided a platform for IORA Member States to finalise the draft Work Plan for the WGMSS which has been drawn up for an initial period of two years so as to achieve the objectives of:
- Building the foundation for a collaborative IORA MSS Framework based on the respective needs and priorities of Member States;
- Establishing an integrated policy approach on MSS, including through capability enhancement and capacity building; and
- Establishing a Coordinated Regional Vision for MSS in IORA to address existing and emerging issues.
The above also reflected the views of Sri Lanka, as the Coordinating Country for MSS in IORA and the Chair of the present meeting. During the welcome address H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, mentioned that “the region is entering a new dynamic era and maintaining a safe and secure Indian Ocean is crucial for our future property. This requires a coordinated multilateral approach to Maritime Security as well as coordinated efforts to improve maritime infrastructure. A concerted effort will be required for the region to achieve its full potential’’.
Building on the momentum of the Initial Workshop for the WGMSS held in 2018, IORA Leaders’ Summit in 2017 and the IORA Action Plan 2017 – 2021, this Meeting resulted in a significant milestone towards formulating and finalising the regional WGMSS Work Plan based on inclusive and consensus-based cooperation among the IORA Member States. It was also reflective of the evolving activities of the Association, as documented in the outcomes of the recently held 1st IORA Strategic Planning Workshop, which underscored the importance of a viable regional security architecture, among other objectives.
9 August 2019