The Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean, which will be co-hosted by the Government of Mauritius and which is set for end April 2018, was discussed during a meeting on Friday 30 March 2018 at the Voilà Hotel, in Bagatelle. The meeting was presided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and chairperson of IOC’s Council, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo.
In fact, the Minister met with representatives of Foreign Embassies/Consulates accredited to Mauritius to review technical and logistics issues pertaining to the Ministerial Conference scheduled from 26 to 29 April 2018. The IOC’s Secretary General, Mr Hamada Madi, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Ambassador, Mrs U. C. Dwarka Canabady, were present at the meeting. The aim was to exchange views on the Ministerial Conference which will explore ways and means to further defend the common ocean space and heritage shared by IOC Member States and exploit the potential for growth and innovation pertaining to the blue economy.
In his introductory remarks, the Minister said that when we talk about maritime security we cannot limit ourselves to uniquely one region as Oceans are interconnected. Also, he pointed out, that the hosting of the Ministerial Conference has a direct effect on what other countries are presently doing since there is interdependence in terms of marine management and maritime security.
Government, emphasised Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo, is fully supporting this initiative and this might pave the way to encourage other regions on the planet to follow suit with regards to addressing pressing issues related to maritime security and coordination. It will sensitise the world that there is no clear policy regarding security of the ocean and about maritime security, and, the need to find consensus on several issues not only piracy but also about drug and human trafficking, money laundering, and ultimately climate change, protection of marine life and illegal fishing, he emphasised.
The Conference will serve as a lobbying platform to ensure that the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851, becomes a permanent entity on the said Council, the Minister announced. To that effect, he indicated, a motion will be presented when the Council will meet in New York in July 2018. The motion will also propose to place greater onus on the Contact Group’s current work agenda by including maritime risks as an added responsibility over and above the existing ones which relate to the development and implementation of national counter-piracy policies and programmes.
Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security
A vast regional and international representation is expected at the Ministerial Conference which will see the adoption of a common Ministerial Declaration. Around 60 Heads of States/Governments as well as a number of regional organisations such as SADC, COMESA, EAC, EGAD, UNODC, International Maritime Organisation, EU, World Bank, African Development Bank, and Civil Society organisations including the University of Bristol and Cardiff have been invited.
Four thematic round tables are scheduled, namely on: regional maritime security mechanisms; fight against transnational trafficking; combating terrorism; and, fight against environmental threats. Meetings at Senior Officials level are also scheduled.
Maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean basin is a major challenge for sustainable development throughout East and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO).
The Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security therefore aims to give new impetus to concrete collaborations for securing long-term vast maritime areas of the ESA-IO region in full compliance with the Conventions and Strategies in force.