IONS workshop in Mumbai to analyze security aspects in IOR

The IONS Operational Seminar and Preparatory Workshop – 2013 was hosted by the Western Naval Command at Mumbai on the theme, ‘Roles and Expectations of Emerging Navies in Cooperative Engagement for Peace and Stability in IOR’. The seminar was attended by 39 delegates from 21 countries.

What is ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS)?

The ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) is a maritime security construct on similar lines as the WPNS. Whilst the WPNS is for the region of Asia-Pacific, the IONS addresses the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the IOR by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues. It endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly cooperative solutions on the way ahead. The inclusiveness of this forum means that all the principal maritime agencies of states in the IOR are members, unless they desire otherwise, thereby involving participation by almost all the littorals in the region to address cooperative maritime issues.

Who are the members to IONS?

There are 35 members – navies of the IONS which have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:

  1. South Asian Littorals:   Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
  2. West Asian Littorals:     Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen
  3. East African Littorals:   Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eriteria, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania
  4. South East Asian and Australian Littorals:   Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste
What are the objectives of IONS?

The key objectives of the IONS are:

  • To promote a shared understanding of the maritime issues facing the littoral nation-states of the Indian Ocean and the formulation of a common set of strategies designed to enhance regional maritime security.
  • To strengthen the capability of all littoral nation-states of the Indian Ocean to address present and anticipated challenges to maritime security and stability.
  • To establish and promote a variety of trans-national, maritime, cooperative-mechanisms designed to mitigate maritime-security concerns within the Indian Ocean.
  • To develop interoperability in terms of doctrines, procedures, organisational and logistic systems and operational processes, so as to promote the development of regional naval capacities for speedy, responsive and effective Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) throughout the Indian Ocean region.

According to Dr C Raja Mohan, recognized fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, there are three imperatives demanding greater maritime security cooperation in the IOR:

  1. The management of the global maritime commons is becoming complex due to deepened divisions amongst the world’s leading nations on account of changing global distribution of power.
  2. Pressures on the defence budget forcing retrenchment of armed forces thereby constraining maritime powers from delivering public goods in the maritime domain.
  3. Growing interests of the littoral states and the opportunity provided by the IONS construct for the region to reclaim its maritime destiny.



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