The Indian Ocean Region is now at the centre of global geopolitics. Its strategic location, at the crossroads of global trade is significant in connecting the major drivers of the international economy in the West and Asia-Pacific. The Indian Ocean is now more significant than ever, being the main channel for international trade and energy, and its littoral comprises of some of the world’s fastest growing economies. The Ocean also produces valuable fishing and mineral resources but non-state actors such as pirates, drug and human traffickers and terrorists constantly undermine security and governance in this region. Power play in the Indian Ocean due to its strategic location and resources has also become a threat to regional stability.
However, this densely populated region that is rich in natural resources is also vulnerable to natural or environmental disasters, which warrants cooperation of all nations to address this issue. This, together with other challenges such as ensuring the free passage of trade and energy, securing equitable distribution of fisheries and mineral resources and managing humanitarian operations in the ocean remains a daunting task.
The main purpose of the conference is to address multifaceted security issues impacting on the Indian Ocean with the two main areas of focus being Maritime Security and Maritime Governance.
This track 1.5 event is expected to create a platform for all stakeholders i.e. policy makers, relevant government officials, researchers, scholars, subject matter experts, think-tank representatives etc. to engage in a constructive discussion, sharing expertise on relevant topics with a view to contribute to maintain the Indian Ocean free of power rivalry, and facilitate free and unimpeded navigation for all interested parties, without exception and exclusion.
The final objective of the conference will be to contribute to the discourse on the freedom of navigation and overfly in accordance with the International Public Law governing the oceans (UNCLOS) and reach an understanding on these principles and contribute to the collective development of the countries in the Indian Ocean region. Agreeing upon a new Indian Ocean Order or establishing a Regional Maritime Security Network could also be discussed in this forum.
The platform provided by the conference for an open and free discussion is expected to create a conducive environment to address existing mistrust and rivalry among the regional and extra-regional states; the impact on environmental security arising from climate change and global warming; and transnational maritime crime among others. It is the expectation of the Pathfinder Foundation that an open discussion on the above and other related issues would result in mutually beneficial win-win situation for the littorals as well as other users of the Indian Ocean, major and minor.
The space provided by the conference could also be used to enhance bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation and collaboration to address common threats in this global maritime common. It will also provide opportunities for networking and fellowship among participants and policy makers.