|Ad-Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 15:50|
Ad-Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean 2011 Session
Remarks by Dr. Palitha Kohona, Chairman
The Committee was established to reach agreement on ways forward in implementing the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace. The changing security and geopolitical scenarios of this immensely complex region continue to produce more issues for the Member states. These complexities and the profound global changes have overtaken the context in which the 1971 Declaration was conceived. However, the vision that underlies the Declaration continues to be a desirable framework that the region can benefit from in order to ensure peace, security, and the prosperity of the people of the Indian Ocean region as they look forward to an era of accelerated growth.
The region, and in fact the world, have seen profound changes in the strategic and security landscape in the years that followed the Declaration. The so called cold war is no more. Some disarmament issues have been resolved. Other disarmament work remains. New challenges in the arms trade and disarmament efforts have come to the fore whilst non State players including terrorist groups, transnational subversive elements, and sophisticated piracy have emerged as threats to peace and security within and between States. In fact, piracy is now a major threat with global dimensions. All this has implications for the Indian Ocean as much to elsewhere in the world. It is precisely because of these diminishing concerns of the past and the emerging concerns of the present that the IOPZ objectives such as stability, peace and security remain relevant.
There are positive developments the Indian Ocean region has seen in the recent past, particularly in the area of socio-economic development, growing regional cooperation in economic, technical and scientific disciplines and above all, the exponential growth in the people to people contacts. Many countries in the region have registered phenomenal economic growth, and have even managed to withstand the global financial and economic crises. They have provided much needed stability to the global system affected by a multiplicity of downturns recently. Nevertheless, new and disturbing threats such as terrorism, illicit arms trafficking, piracy, people smuggling, transnational crime and many other regional and international manifestations of new security concerns seem to work against those positive trends evident in the region. Disarmament and arms control issues have manifested themselves in new dimensions while progress in arms control has not been noteworthy.
In view of these complex and evolving issues, we believe that the Ad-Hoc Committee has a continuing role to play, based on broad based participation open to all Member States within the region and beyond. Since the Committee itself has not been able to develop common ground for a way forward in any functional sense, to implement the Declaration, it is time for the Committee to be open to consider new approaches. The scope of the work of the Committee, including the revision of the Declaration in a pragmatic manner that corresponds to the current realities in the region, may be an element which the Member States would wish to reflect on.
It would therefore, be time for the members of the Committee to consider views as to how such new approaches could be developed and how recommendations could be made to the General Assembly regarding a way forward.
Our view is that, based on the thoughts expressed by the Member States, within the framework of this Committee, the Bureau should, therefore, continue the consultative processes.