Oceans are a vital component of our planets’ eco system, and play a key role in supporting life on earth, providing numerous benefits to the humankind. The ocean provides natural resources, including food, materials, substances, minerals and energy. It regulates the climate and contributes to global and regional elemental cycling.
Despite the arrangements among States to follow the international rules based order, and Multilateral Maritime Cooperation frameworks, growing threats in the maritime domain have been witnessed in recent years, which include number of maritime crime such as piracy, smuggling of various natures, IUU fishing, and human trafficking/irregular migration via the sea. All of said human led activities should be considered global threats that imperil the seas, littorals and non-littoral alike.
Additionally, the increased dependence on the oceans has caused the overexploitation of marine resources, marine pollution, increased maritime security incidents and accidents, depletion of marine biodiversity, and threats to the marine environment. The ocean has become the hotbed for strategic competition to maintain the supremacy of powerful nation’s leading to rivalries and conflicts among nations.
The Indian Ocean is home to number of littorals, each with its own strategic maritime interests. This is also the conduit for world energy, container and bulk transport. The region has seen rivalries and conflicts among nations, which have forced them to reshape their maritime strategies. The sea lanes and choke points in the region are of immense strategic importance, as they carry huge volumes of trade. These sea lanes and choke points are exposed to piracy, international disputes, political dissents, maritime accidents, and transnational and maritime crime.
Climate change, extreme weather events and sea level rising are also expected to have substantial effects on maritime human security, particularly for coastal and archipelagic states. The increased impact of climate change could alter existing maritime security dynamics, with increased transnational crimes caused by climate displacement, poverty, pollution, ocean warming, and acidification. These impacts could overwhelm the existing maritime security capabilities, stretch state resources and increase the need for further ocean management and regulating.
Moreover, the harnessing of shared ocean resources, especially the areas beyond national jurisdiction, has become a source of conflict. The Ocean Governance framework as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in the recent Oceans Treaty needs robust implementation by Nation States.
Due to the complexity, vastness and far-reaching consequences of these issues, no state can address them singularly. Thus, these multifaceted and complicated issues must be addressed as an intertwined set of challenges of global, regional, and national importance. This requires a collaborative multi-lateral and multi-stake holder approach with concerted efforts by all stakeholders.
In this context, this year’s edition of the Galle Dialogue provides a common platform for all stakeholders of the maritime domain to discuss and deliberate maritime-related issues with the purpose of providing inputs for formulating viable solutions under the theme of ‘Emerging New Order in the Indian Ocean’. The conference also focuses on several key areas under the main theme including Indian Ocean Governance Framework, Transnational Organised Crime,Maritime Security Concerns, Maritime Multi Domain Awareness, Maritime Synergy to foster Blue Economy, Marine Environment Protection for Collaborative Maritime Prosperity, and Collaborative enforcement for sustainable Ocean Governance.
Commodore AD Weerasinghe, RSP, psc
Director Naval Foreign Cooperation
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