List of important groups associated with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Indian Ocean Region (IOR) comprises of the Indian Ocean and the countries bordering it. It is home to one-third of the world's population. In this article, we have listed major groups which are associated with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Indian Ocean| Credits: UMCES
Indian Ocean| Credits: UMCES

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) comprises of the Indian Ocean and the countries bordering it-- Australia, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Somalia, Tanzania, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The region is home to around 2.5 billion people or one-third of the population of our planet. 

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world, covering around 20% of the Earth's water surface. It has 51 coastal and landlocked states-- 26 Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) states, 5 Red Sea states, 4 Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and 13 landlocked states.

The region is plentiful in energy resources and minerals including gold, tin, uranium, cobalt, nickel, aluminium and cadmium. The region furthermore contains abundant fishing resources. Around 55% of the oil reserves and 40% of the gas reserves are in this region. 

The IOR has four important waterways-- Suez Canal (Egypt), Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen), Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman), and Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia). The main seaports of IOR are-- Chennai (Madras, India); Colombo (Sri Lanka); Durban (South Africa); Jakarta (Indonesia); Kolkata(Calcutta, India); Melbourne (Australia); Mumbai (Bombay, India); Richards Bay (South Africa). Let us have a look at the major groups associated with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

Major groups associated with the IOR

The major groups which are associated with the IOR are as follows:

The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)
The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
East African Community (EAC)
Indian Ocean Commission (COI)
The Arab League, or League of Arab States
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA)

1- The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC):

- On 7 March 1997, IOR-ARC was established and a Charter was adopted to promote economic and technical cooperation. It is headquartered in Ebene, Mauritius

- The goal of this regional cooperation is to create a platform for trade, socio-economic and cultural cooperation in the Indian Ocean Rim area. 

- The Indian Ocean Rim area is home to around two billion people.

-It is the only pan-Indian ocean grouping. 

- It has 22 member nations-- Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Somalia, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 

- It has 6 dialogue partners, namely, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, Turkey and South Korea. 

- The official language of the association is English. 

2- The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS):

- In February 2008, India initiated and launched a forum to increase the maritime cooperation among the navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

- It aims at enhancing maritime security cooperation, promotes friendly relationships among the member nations, sharing of information to overcome natural disasters. 

- It is similar to the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. 

- IONS has 24 member nations. These are: 

South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)

West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.

South-East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

- The forum has 8 observer nations, namely, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

3- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC):

- On 25 May 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was established and is headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

- The council was established in response to the Iran-Iraq war and aims at strengthening co-operation in agriculture, trade, industry, investment and security among the member nations. 

- It has 6 member nations, namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. These states are often referred to as 'the GCC states' or 'the Gulf countries'. 

- The official language of the council is Arabic

4- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): 

- On 8 December 1985, SAARC was established and is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

- It is a regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia.  

- It aims at promoting economic development and regional integration. 

- It has 6 member nations-- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

- It has 10 observer states, namely, Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea, and the United States.

- The official language of the organization is English. 

5- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):

- On 8 August 1967, ASEAN was established and the Charter came into effect on 16 December 2008.

- It is a regional intergovernmental organization and is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

- It promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and socio-cultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.

- It has 10 member nations-- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

- The organization has 2 observer states, namely, Papua New Guinea, and Timor Leste.

- The working language of the organization is English.

6- The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF):

- It was established in the year 1994 and the inaugural meeting was held on 25 July 1994, in Bangkok. 

- It aims at fostering constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues of common interest and concern; and to make significant contributions to efforts towards confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.  

- The forum comprises of 27 countries (10 ASEAN member states and 17 Partner States)-- Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United States, and Viet Nam.

7- Southern African Development Community (SADC):

- It was originally established as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) on 1 April 1980. 

- On 17 August 1992, it was established as SADC and is headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana.

- It is an inter-governmental organization and aims at enhancing socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 southern African countries. 

- The SADC Standing Maritime Committee aims at promoting regional peace and prosperity through maritime military co-operation. 

- It has 16 member states: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

- The working languages of the organization are: English, French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili. 

8- East African Community (EAC):

- It was founded in 1967, dissolved in 1977, and was revived on 7 July 2000. It is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania.

- It is an inter-governmental organization which aims at improving political, economic and social development, and has the ultimate objective of establishing a political federation of the East African states.

- It has six partner states, namely, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

- The official language of EAC is English. 

9- Indian Ocean Commission (COI):

- It was established in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.

- It is an inter-governmental organization which aims at enhancing political, diplomatic, economic and commercial cooperation. 

- It also works towards strengthening of the regional cultural identity, cooperation in cultural, scientific, technical, educational, development through projects related to sustainability for the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving various natural resources that the countries depend on and judicial fields.

- It has 5 member nations-- Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (France), and Seychelles. 

- The organization has 5 observer states, namely, China, India, the Sovereign Order of Malta, the European Union, and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

- The official language of the organization is French. 

10- The Arab League, or League of Arab States: 

- It was established on 22 March 1945 and its administrative centre is in Cairo, Egypt. 

- It is a loose confederation of Arab nations which aims at improving coordination among its members on matters of common interest.

- The 22 member nations are Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria (suspended), Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 

- The organization has 5 observer states, namely, Armenia, Brazil, Eritrea, India, and Venezuela. 

- Its official language is Arabic

11- The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC):

- On 25 September 1969, OIC was established and a Charter was adopted to safeguard the interests and ensure the progress and well-being of Muslims. 

- It is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

- It has 57 member nations-- Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh,  Benin, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,   Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria (suspended), Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. 

- The organization has three official languages, namely, Arabic, English and French. 

12- The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA): 

- It was founded on 16 April 1971 and is a military alliance.

- It aims at consulting each other "immediately" in the event or threat of an armed attack on any of the member nations for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in response.

- Its 5 member states are Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. 

Significance of the Indian Ocean for India

1- Strategic Location: India is strategically located at the centre of the Indian Ocean and has a coastline of around 7,500 kilometres. It has bagged infrastructure development rights for two islands in the region – Agalega from Mauritius and Assumption from Seychelles.

2- Economic Significance: The area constitutes 95% of India's trade by volume and 68% of trade by value. Approximately 80% of the country's crude oil is imported by sea via the Indian Ocean.

3- Resources: India is heavily dependent on the resources of the Indian Ocean (fisheries, minerals, etc.) and its maritime exports rose by 55% in volume between 1962 and 2012.

4- Mineral resource extraction: India was granted exclusive rights to explore the Central Indian Ocean in 1987 and has since then since explored four million square miles. It has also established two mining sites.

5- Major Concerns: The 2008 attack on Mumbai was perpetrated by terrorists arriving by sea, killing 164 people. Other major concerns include smuggling, illegal fishing, and human trafficking.  

India is enhancing its influence across the Indian Ocean Region, through trade, investment, diplomacy, and strategic partnerships. It aims at emerging as the dominant Indian Ocean power, preventing China from gaining a significant strategic foothold in the region. 

Why is China expanding its military footprints in the Indian Ocean?

How would China’s ‘String of Pearls Project’ affect India’s security?

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