The first bi-lateral conference between the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) and Pathfinder Foundation (PF) focused on developing a platform for analytical and innovative discussion, specifically on Maritime Security and Maritime Domain Awareness covering the Indian Ocean, which would favourably impact countries in the Indian Ocean Region.
The dialogue was held on February 8th at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.
Admiral R.K. Dhowan with Directors of NMF, Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Director, Centre for Indo-Lanka Initiatives at PF with Chairman Bernard Goonetilleke and Directors will be key resource personalities of the conference.
The Indian Ocean Region which is home to nearly one-third of world’s population is of high economic and strategic significance due to its location and traffic that passes through it. It is estimated that nearly half of world’s containers, one third of bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of oil shipments pass through the Indian Ocean. Also, there is a shift in global economic weight and influence from Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Indo-Asia-Pacific. The rise of China to number two position and India to number seven position in the world economic order is a clear example of this economic shift. With a growing population in India and already a large population in China, there will be a requirement for an increase in production and trade. Therefore, in the 21st century, the Indian Ocean has become the key ocean for energy, trade and food security.
Sri Lanka, although a small Island state in the Southern tip of India, is seen as the epicentre of the Indian Ocean. Due to the geographical proximity of the two countries and the vital location in the Indian Ocean, it is quite logical that India and Sri Lanka jointly take the leadership in ensuring maritime security. There is a strong need to monitor the maritime domain with a view to detect and deter prospective threats, which can emanate from states or non-state actors. There may be a requirement to include other states such as Bangladesh, Mauritius and Seychelles in enhancing the MDA concept to cover the wider India Ocean.
There is rationale to engage in academic discourse on maritime security and MDA in the Indian Ocean, with a view to develop a policy framework for the attention of policy makers in both the countries. Pathfinder Foundation together with the National Maritime Foundation, India, embarked on an initiative to conduct a first bilateral dialogue on India-Sri Lanka Maritime Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean: Exploring Convergences.