Rethinking maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region
The Indian Ocean Region is moving to the centre of the global geostrategic agenda. Resource competition and energy security, environmental and economic issues exacerbated by climate change; the involvement of external powers like China, and the emergence of regional powers like India underscore a heightened need for attention to this region. Concomitantly, Indian Ocean sea lines of communication are becoming increasingly important to global and regional commerce. Related security issues largely converge in the maritime domain.
There is little history of region-wide security cooperation and a lack of regional institutions in the Indian Ocean Region. Non-conventional threats posing collective security risks to common interests present the most realisable prospects, at least initially, for the development of collective security dialogue and mechanisms. Such arrangements need to involve both regional and extra-regional powers that have interests to protect and capacities to assist. Given geography and the diverse nature of the region, maritime security offers the most compelling area for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region. Efforts to facilitate collective security dialogue and establish maritime security cooperative mechanisms and habits need to be urgently progressed at official, non-official and operational levels.