As the Indian Ocean Region continues to grow in strategic significance, the need for a region-wide multilateral organisation capable of contributing effectively to regional issues will only become more pressing.
- Despite its failings, the time for replacing IORA has passed. The task now is to refine the organisation to maximise its ability to accomplish a smaller number of useful, tangible outcomes.
- The focus should now be on four “super priority” areas: maritime safety and security; trade and investment facilitation; fisheries management; and, disaster risk management.
- After that, IORA’s remit should gradually be widened to include the remainder of the six priority areas identified at Bangalore in 2011, before introducing others.
- If IORA is to be a truly region-wide organisation, its membership should be expanded to include Pakistan, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Burma/Myanmar.
As FDI has previously noted, the Indian Ocean Region is home to a veritable alphabet soup of sub- and intra-regional groupings, sometimes of limited effectiveness, and reflecting the fact that the region is more of a geographical entity than a political one.
As the Indian Ocean Region continues to grow in strategic significance, both in its own right and as an integral component of the broader Indo-Pacific region, the need for a region-wide multilateral organisation capable of contributing effectively to regional issues will only become more pressing.
That is not say, however, that IORA as it currently stands is necessarily the ideal arrangement with which to tackle the multitude of important issues confronting the Indian Ocean Region. It may well be, but it may equally be the case that it is time for an overhaul of IORA’s focus and activities or even to replace it with some new institution altogether.