The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an inter-governmental organization comprising 23 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners, aimed at enhancing regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region.

Through IORA, India seeks to build a Pan-Indian ocean community identity based on historical ties, shared culture, and mutual exchange, while also countering China’s cheque book diplomacy in the region.

IORA’s Role in Maritime Security:

  • After the Jakarta Concord in 2017, IORA prioritized maritime security, focusing on combating piracy, smuggling, maritime terrorism, illegal fishing, human trafficking, and narcotics trade.
  • Example: Collaborative efforts through IORA can lead to joint patrolling, intelligence sharing, and coordinated actions against maritime threats, ensuring a safer Indian Ocean.

Political Sanctity and Vision through the Council of Ministers (COM):

  • The highest level of the Association is the Council of Ministers consisting of Foreign Ministers from member countries, providing the necessary political support and vision for an outcome-oriented partnership.
  • Example: The COM can work towards resolving regional disputes, promoting peaceful dialogue, and establishing a common platform for addressing shared challenges.

Trade & Investment for Regional Economic Development:

  • The Indian Ocean handles half of the world’s container ships and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments, making trade and investment crucial for regional economic growth.
  • Example: IORA can facilitate trade agreements, investment mechanisms, and infrastructure development to boost economic cooperation and prosperity in the member states.

Sustainable Development through the Blue Economy:

  • IORA’s Sustainable Development Program (ISDP) focuses on sharing best practices in the Blue Economy, bridging the gap between rich and poor member states.
  • Example: By promoting sustainable fishing, marine conservation, and eco-friendly tourism, IORA can ensure long-term environmental and economic benefits for the region.

Disaster Management and Information Exchange:

  • IORA’s Cluster Group on Disaster Risk Management (DRM) collaborates to formulate a Work Plan for information exchange, disaster database creation, and sharing best practices.
  • Example: By coordinating disaster response and preparedness, IORA can minimize the impact of natural calamities and support affected communities.


  • Managing Rivalry and Confidence Building: IORA needs to develop confidence-building measures to de-escalate contentious issues among members and non-members, promoting peaceful cooperation in the region.
  • Strategic Thought and Maritime Security Structures: Littoral countries must develop strategic maritime security structures that work in partnerships to address security challenges effectively.
  • Economic Disparities: The participation of both rich and poor countries in IORA projects may lead to uneven benefits and economic contradictions that need to be addressed for equitable growth.


The Indian Ocean has witnessed historical contestations, making it crucial to establish a maritime order that safeguards the interests of all countries, regardless of their economic status.

IORA’s efforts in building a Pan-Indian ocean community identity and fostering outcome-oriented partnerships play a significant role in promoting regional cooperation, sustainable development, and peace. As a key member, India’s active involvement in IORA can lead to the creation of a more secure and prosperous Indian Ocean region.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish March 8, 2024