Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Part I

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organization consisting of 22 states bordering the Indian Ocean. 

  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.  
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region. 
  • The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius. 
  • The apex body of the IOR-ARC is the Council of (Foreign) Ministers (COM).  
  • The meeting of the COM is preceded by the meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG), Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF), Working Group on Trade and  Investment (WGTI), and the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) 
  • It manages, coordinates, services and monitors the implementation of policy decisions, work programmes and projects adopted by the member states.  
  • The association gains importance by the fact that the Indian Ocean carries half of the world’s container ships, one-third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments.  
  • It is a lifeline of international trade and transport and the Indian ocean region is woven together by trade routes and commands control of major sea-lanes. 

Indian Ocean Dialogue (IOD) 

The Indian Ocean Dialogue (IOD) is a flagship initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim Association  (IORA), with its origins in the 13th Council of Ministers meeting, held in November 2013 in Perth,  Australia. 

The IORA Sustainable Development Program (ISDP) 

The ISDP is a project-based program intended to meet the needs of the Member States of the IORA. Project proposals are formulated by the Member countries in collaboration with IORA  Secretariat. As an instrument of sustainable development, the ISDP Program is expected to strengthen regional cooperation and forge new partnerships within the IORA Member States and with Dialogue Partners. 

ISDP Objectives: 

  • Encouraging lesser developed member countries to participate in IORA. 
  • Encouraging capacity building, peer-to-peer learning and sharing of information to IORA  member countries. 
  • Enhancing and strengthening bonds amongst member countries. 
  • Extending opportunities to lesser developed member countries to share their experience and expertise in specific areas that would benefit their economies. 
  • Encouraging less developed member countries to host various IORA events. 

Member States 

  • Promoting sustained growth and balanced development within the Indian Ocean region,  IORA strengthens cooperation and dialogue with the Member States namely: 
  • Commonwealth of Australia, People's Republic of Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, Republic of India, Republic of Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Madagascar, Malaysia, Republic of Maldives, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Mozambique, Sultanate of Oman, Republic of Seychelles, Republic of Singapore, Federal Republic of Somalia, Republic of South Africa, Democratic Socialist Republic of  Sri Lanka, United Republic of Tanzania, Kingdom of Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Yemen. 
  • All sovereign States of the Indian Ocean Rim are eligible for membership of the  Association. To become members, States must adhere to the principles and objectives enshrined in the Charter of the Association.

Dialogue Partners 

Dialogue Partners refer to individual sovereign states and not members of IORA, but with a special interest and/or capacity to contribute to IORA, particularly in the areas of common interest. Dialogue Partners provide valuable assistance in the field of technology transfer, environmental issues, the promotion of trade and investment, technical cooperation and assistance to the Special Fund. 

The following listed Dialogue Partners form part of the Association: 

Italian Republic, Japan, Federal Republic of Germany, People’s Republic of China, United  Kingdom, United States of America, France Republic, Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Turkey and Republic of Korea. 

Objectives & Priority Areas of Cooperation 

The objectives of IORA are as follows: 

1. To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member  states 

2. To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum  opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits 

3. To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim. 

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has identified six priority areas, namely:  

1. maritime security, 

2. trade and investment facilitation, 

3. fisheries management, 

4. disaster risk reduction, 

5. academic and scientific cooperation and 

6. Tourism promotion and cultural exchanges.

In addition to these, two focus areas are also identified by IORA, namely Blue Economy and  Women's Economic Empowerment. 

IORA members undertake projects for economic co-operation relating to trade facilitation and liberalisation, promotion of foreign investment, scientific and technological exchanges, tourism,  movement of natural persons and service providers on a non-discriminatory basis; and the development of infrastructure and human resources, poverty alleviation, promotion of maritime transport and related matters, cooperation in the fields of fisheries trade, research and management, aquaculture, education and training, energy, IT, health, protection of the environment, agriculture, disaster management.  

This blog pertains to UPSC papers on GS 2, International Organisation, Political Science optional paper 2 and Essay Type Question. Also, do check our previous blogs on various topics. Subscribe today so that you don’t miss out on any important topics.

Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor