Articles and Commentaries |
July 3, 2023

Collaborate for a Future of Enduring Peace and Shared Prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region

Written By: Faisal Naseem

A resilient and sustainable future is a choice that requires proactive measures that promotes transformation. It involves adaptive management, learning, innovation, and the leadership to manage risks and uncertainty.

We must increase our engagements and unify our collective efforts to ensure peace in the region. A single nation cannot ensure the security and resilience of the region surrounding the vast Indian Ocean. We must accept the collective responsibility for ensuring regional stability by strengthening our regional alliances.

We must leverage cooperation to generate sustained economic development in order to assure the security and prosperity of our region’s citizens and beyond.

The Indian Ocean Region is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing civilizations. It serves as a hub for trade with the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. It is the responsibility, therefore, of all the nations to ensure peace, economic prosperity, environmental protection, and international rules in the region.

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has made the security of the Indian Ocean a top priority. We are mindful of obstacles that threaten stable socioeconomic progress in the Indian Ocean, including non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, human trafficking, irregular migration, drug smuggling, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Degradation of ocean health, illegal exploitation of marine resources, and climate change are additional concerns in the region of the Indian Ocean. Small, low-lying island nations, such as the Maldives, are particularly vulnerable to climate pressures. The nations of the Indian Ocean are the most vulnerable, as a number of their populations reside in low-lying coastal settlements.

We must establish partnerships based on mutual respect and trust. This is essential for resolving outstanding issues and promoting prosperity, sustainability, and stability in the Indian Ocean region through a rules-based approach.

We should focus on development, actively engage in practical cooperation in business and trade, energy, science, and technology and exert considerable effort to better the lives of the populace.

Our societies are becoming increasingly interconnected and inter-dependent, evolving as a community with a common future. The economic turmoil created by the COVID-19 pandemic for instance has revealed numerous vulnerabilities in the global supply chain and starkly reminded us of the important need to build and harmonize our international partnerships to guarantee undisrupted supply chains.

As a country totally reliant on imports from food to fuel, the Maldives faced several challenges with the closure of borders during the pandemic. We had the good fortune of enjoying close relations with all our bilateral partners, especially with our close neighbours in the Indian Ocean and our challenges were met with their prompt assistance.

Numerous solutions to the problems confronting the planet and humanity are already known. In reality, we cannot effectively address any of these challenges if we lack effective institutions that can regulate and monitor progress in all these domains. We must be mindful to recognize our deficiencies in this regard.

The Maldives is committed to ensuring sustainable fishing practices and has joined the Indian Ocean Rim Association in 2019. IORA has been successful in uniting nations with a shared vision for the Indian Ocean, and the Maldives will stand firm in promoting the region’s sustained growth and balanced development as a member of IORA.

The Maldives is also an active member of the Colombo Security Conclave. With its focus on ensuring maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean, terrorism and radicalisation, cyber security and humanitarian aid and disaster relief, the conclave has established frameworks for cooperation, while also strengthening cooperation within the countries.

Faced with these global challenges, Maldives will uphold the spirit of partnership, inclusiveness, openness, and intensify dialogue to increase mutual trust and coordination and work together to establish a prosperous and peaceful future for the region.

To ensure a healthy and prosperous future for all, we must increase our engagements and unify our collective efforts through greater leadership. Let us remain steadfast in our commitments to regional peace and prosperity, uphold the spirit of partnership, inclusiveness, and transparency, and collaborate for a future of enduring peace and shared prosperity.

Author Brief Bio: His Excellency Faisal Naseem is the Vice President of the Republic of Maldives.

Note: This article is based on the Text of the Speech delivered by H.E. Faisal Naseem, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives, in the Inaugural Session at the 6th Indian Ocean Conference 2023 in Dhaka on 12 May 2023.

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