Securing the Indian ocean

Source: Indian express

Relevance: Strengthening maritime security

Synopsis: Maintaining and strengthening maritime security is a key concern for India. With an open debate on the issue in UNSC, India has a chance to showcase that maritime security requires a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach.

Context

India has convened an open debate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on enhancing maritime security, which will be chaired by Indian PM on August 9. It reflects India’s international evolution as a maritime nation. The objective of the debate is to highlight the effectiveness of international maritime cooperation to respond holistically to natural and man-made threats to maritime security.

Why marine security is important for India?
  1. Protecting its vast coastline – India has a coastline of over 7,500 km, thus it has a natural interest in enhancing maritime security
  2. Maritime trade route – 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of daily global oil consumption is transported through Indian Ocean region.
SAGAR policy

India launched SAGAR (Security and Growth for All) initiative  which proposes an integrated regional framework to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean & focuses on following 5 pillars –

  1. Role of India – as a net security provider in the region
  2. Active engagement with friendly countries – to enhance the maritime security capacities and economic resilience of these countries
  3. Advancing peace and security – by developing a network to take effective collective action
  4. Ensuring sustainable development in the region – through  integrated and cooperative focus on the future of the IOR
  5. Collective approach – ensuring that the primary responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity in the IOR would be on those “who live in this region”
Measures to sustain international coop

Sustaining international cooperation to enhance maritime security requires two supportive frameworks in the policy and operational areas.

  • Rule of Law approach –  A rule-of-law based approach backed by an effective legal policy framework is essential to secure the maritime domain.
  • UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – Application of UNCLOS to address new challenges to peace and security including from non-state actors such as terrorists, pirates and criminal gangs engaged in drug trafficking.
Relevant issues 

Certain important issues need to be discussed at the open debate:

  1. Improving the operational effectiveness of the UNCLOS, especially regarding the enforcement of its provisions on freedom of navigation, the sustainable exploitation of maritime resources, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
  2. Securing the sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) – The debate must focus on ensuring equal and unrestricted access to SLOCs by states while resolving differences through peaceful means. 3 important SLOCs in Indian Ocean Region are – the SLOC connecting
    1. Red Sea to the Indian Ocean through the Bab al-Mandab
    2. Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz
    3. Indian and Pacific Oceans through the Straits of Malacca
  3. Data-sharing: Sharing data on threats to commercial shipping is important to enhance maritime security. India’s initiative to establish an International Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean region in Gurugram in 2018 effectively aims to achieve the same
  4. Increasing role of the private sector in the maritime domain – to promote blue economy through sustainable development as well as digital economy by providing the critical submarine fibre-optic cables.

Conclusion

The ability of the UNSC to respond to the debate by endorsing a multiple stakeholder approach to enhancing maritime security would be a significant outcome. It would set a paradigm for upholding “multi-dimensional” security in the 21st century.

Terms to know

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