IORA Council of Ministers Meeting in Sri Lanka

  • 12 Oct 2023

On 11th Oct, India, led by External Affairs Minister, participated in the 23rd Council of Ministers (COM) meeting and the 25th Committee of Senior Officials of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), hosted in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Key Points

India's Leadership in IORA

  • Vice Chair of IORA: India took on the role of Vice Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for the year 2023-2025 during the meeting. This position will be followed by India assuming the Chairmanship for 2025-2027.
  • IORA's Ongoing and Future Work: Prior to the meeting, IORA Senior Officials comprehensively reviewed the organization's ongoing and future activities for the period from 2022 to 2027.
  • Key Agreements: The COM adopted significant documents during the meeting, including the Colombo Communique and 'IORA Vision 2030 and Beyond,' among others.
  • Meeting with Sri Lankan President: External Affairs Minister held talks with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the President's Secretariat.
  • Bilateral Agreements: Several agreements were exchanged between the two nations, including a letter of exchange and acceptance regarding Phase 4 of the Indian Housing Project, aiming to construct 10,000 houses in plantation areas.
  • Additionally, additional funding was infused into nine ongoing High Impact Community Development projects.
  • Virtual Inaugurations: Various housing projects were inaugurated virtually during a ceremony presided over by President.
  • 75 Years of Diplomatic Relations: A joint logo commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and Sri Lanka was also unveiled.
  • Strengthening the Dairy Sector: A Joint Venture Shareholders' agreement was signed between the National Dairy and Development Board (NDDB), Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, and the Cargill Group of Sri Lanka. This initiative aims to enhance the Sri Lankan dairy sector.
  • India's Commitment to IORA: India emphasized that its dedication to the Indian Ocean Rim Association is deeply rooted in the principles of peaceful coexistence, shared prosperity, and regional collaboration.

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

Origins and Vision

  • 1995: The vision for IORA traces back to a significant moment during a visit by the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, to India in 1995.
  • President Mandela's Vision: During the visit, President Mandela emphasized the need for "the natural urge of the facts of history and geography" to expand into the concept of an Indian Ocean rim for socio-economic cooperation.
  • Initiation: This vision laid the foundation for the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in March 1995, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (initially known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation) in March 1997.


  • Member States: IORA currently comprises 23 Member States.
  • Members include: Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
  • Dialogue Partners: In addition to its Member States, IORA has 11 Dialogue Partners.
  • Dialogue Partners consist of: China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
  • Secretariat Location: The IORA Secretariat is headquartered in Mauritius.

Focus Areas

  • Key Ocean Routes: The Indian Ocean, as the third largest ocean, is interwoven by crucial trade routes.
  • Major Sea-Lanes: These sea-lanes are essential for the global economy, as they handle:
    • Half of the world’s container ships.
    • One third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic.
    • Two thirds of the world’s oil shipments.
  • Lifeline to International Trade: The Indian Ocean continues to serve as a vital lifeline for international trade and transportation, making it of paramount importance to the global economy.

Significance of the Indian Ocean

  • Strategic Trade Routes: The Indian Ocean, as the third-largest ocean, functions as a vital conduit for global trade.
  • Energy Imports: Notably, 80% of India's energy imports are channelled through the Indian Ocean.
  • Global Trade Hub: Approximately 40% of the world's global trade is facilitated through the Indian Ocean.
  • Cultural Diversity: Member States in the Indian Ocean region are home to nearly 2.7 billion people, representing rich cultural diversity, languages, religions, traditions, arts, and cuisines.

Security Considerations

  • Peaceful Indian Ocean Region: The Indian Ocean Region currently enjoys a state of peace and lacks significant rivalries. The trade routes and transit are largely unobstructed.
  • Security Focus: IORA members are urged to increase their focus on security issues within the Indian Ocean Region, ensuring foreign Navies do not disturb the region's peace and tranquility.

China's Presence

  • Peaceful Rise: Member states of IORA seek a peaceful rise of China, emphasizing the importance of preventing assertive and aggressive behaviour that could disrupt regional security.
  • China's Naval Developments: China's efforts to establish a Blue Water Navy, including aircraft carriers, raise security concerns in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • Maritime Silk Route: China's Maritime Silk Route project aims to dominate sea and trade routes.
  • UNCLOS Adherence: Concerns arise from China's lack of adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).