Indian Ocean Power Competition

Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IOC

Mains level : Indian ocean security

India is looking to post Navy Liaison Officers at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) of IOC in Madagascar and also at the European maritime surveillance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz.

Note the members of the IOC form map. One may get confused considering India as a permanent member.

About Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)

  • The IOC is an intergovernmental organization that was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.
  • The IOC is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France), and Seychelles.
  • These five islands share geographic proximity, historical and demographic relationships, natural resources and common development issues.

Aims and Objectives of IOC

  • IOC’s principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region.
  • IOC’s mission also includes development, through projects related to sustainability for the region, aimed at protecting the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving the various natural resources that the countries depend on.
  • Being an organisation regrouping only island states, the IOC has usually championed the cause of small island states in regional and international fora.

India and IOC

  • India was accepted as an observer getting a seat at the table of the organization that handles maritime governance in the western Indian Ocean.
  • India’s entry is a consequence of its deepening strategic partnership with France as well as its expanding ties with the Vanilla Islands.
  • The IOC has four observers — China, EU, Malta and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).

Significance of IOC

  • For India, the importance of joining this organization lies in several things.
  • First, India will get an official foothold in a premier regional institution in the western Indian Ocean, boosting engagement with islands in this part of the Indian Ocean.
  • These island nations are increasingly important for India’s strategic outreach as part of its Indo-Pacific policy.
  • This move would enhance ties with France which is the strong global power in the western Indian Ocean.
  • It lends depth to India’s SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region) policy unveiled by PM Modi in 2015.
  • The move, India hopes, would lead to greater security cooperation with countries in East Africa.

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