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International Affairs and Institutions, Questions

OAS Mains Q&A: Indian Ocean Commission

Context

India has joined as an observer of the Indian Ocean Commission — the intergovernmental organisation that coordinates maritime governance in the south-western Indian Ocean.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the IOC Conference of ministers in Seychelles recently making India the fifth observer.

The other four observers are China, Malta, European Union and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).

Question

What is Indian Ocean Commission? What are the Strategic importance of India’s joining as an observer?

Sample Answer

The IOC was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius, and later institutionalised in 1984. It has five member nations– Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion (an overseas region of France) and Seychelles.

Its principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African-Indian Ocean region.

The mission also includes development through projects related to sustainability for the region, aimed at protecting the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving the various natural resources that the countries depend on.

Strategic Importance

  • The move is expected to bolster Delhi’s Indo-Pacific vision.
  • This move has strategic importance as the Commission is an important regional institution in the Western Indian Ocean.
  • It facilitates collective engagement with the islands in Western Indian Ocean that are becoming strategically significant.
  • It boosts cooperation with France that has strong presence in the Western Indian Ocean.
  • It gives boost to India’s SAGAR policy of PM Narendra Modi 2015.
  • The move also strengthens western flank of the Indo-Pacific and is a stepping stone to security cooperation with East Africa.
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