The United Arab Emirates, the current Chair of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), convened the Tenth Bi-annual CSO Meeting on 29 June – 01 July 2020 virtually, with the support of the IORA Secretariat. This Meeting brought together IORA’s 22 Member States, the Fisheries Support Unit (FSU), the Regional Centre for Science and Technology Transfer (RCSTT), and the Chair in Indian Ocean Studies (CIOS) to track the Associations progress within the six priority areas and two cross cutting focus areas.
Senior Officials joined the three-day virtual meeting and stressed their commitment to strengthen cooperation within the Indian Ocean region to build back better resilient communities. The meeting agenda highlighted various topics regarding the strategic objectives of the Association, including the engagement with IORA’s Dialogue Partners and various International organisations. Moreover, the meeting noted special IORA programmes such as the Extraordinary CSO Meeting on COVID-19 held in May 2020, the IORA Nelson Mandela Internship Programme to commence in 2021, the Third Somalia-Yemen Development Programme, and International IORA Day to be held on 7 March.
In her opening remarks, the IORA Secretary General, H.E. Dr N. Nokwe, highlighted the recently issued statement by the CSO on IORA’s solidarity and cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She further expressed that ‘’we can foresee a ‘new norm’ of our operations… and we should maintain the strong momentum by continuing to enhance our cooperation. IORA should endeavour to envision and shape a new order led by regionalism’’.
Senior Officials recommended several strategic objectives to be finalised at the next CSO meeting to be held with the IORA Council of Ministers (COM) in November 2020. This bi-annual CSO meeting was the second virtual meeting held this year since the inception of IORA in March 1997. The current Chair, the United Arab Emirates, resumed the Chair of IORA in November 2019 under the theme of “Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean”.