Articles and Commentaries |
July 3, 2023

Multi-Stakeholder Approach for Peace and Prosperity in the Indian Ocean region

Written By: Tandi Dorji

Bhutan recognises the infinite potential of the Indian Ocean region as well as the challenge that we face in securing peace and prosperity for our people. Bhutan as a landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas may seem far remote from the Indian Ocean. But we recognize the vital role this region plays in global affairs. The Indian Ocean is home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and is critical to global trade and commerce. It is also home to a rich diversity of cultures and people, and it is a shared responsibility to ensure that this region remains peaceful and prosperous for generations to come.

As much as the Indian Ocean region is critical for global trade and commerce, it is also vulnerable to not just traditional challenges of security, but emerging threats of biohazard, cyber warfare, maritime piracy etc. These threats not only endanger our economic interests, but also the security and well-being of our people. We must work together to tackle these challenges, leveraging our collective strengths and resources to build a more secure and peaceful region based on the principles of rules-based order. As a proud member of the United Nations, Bhutan also actively contributes to peace building efforts around the world.

In terms of prosperity, the Indian Ocean region has immense potential to become the most economically prosperous region of the century. The region has the economies of scale, immense consumer market and the technical prowess which can propel the world into an era of global affluence based on the ethos of sustainable development. The region is home to 64% of the global population and 60% of the global GDP. It also accounts for around 40% of the world’s oil supply and 64% of oil trade. We must seize this opportunity to drive inclusive growth and create a brighter future for the people of this region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how susceptible and interdependent the world is. As we look to the future, we must recognize the challenges that lies ahead. Climate change, natural disasters and pandemics are just some of the threats that we face. We need to work together to build resilience and prepare for the future. In this regard, Bhutan has taken several steps to address these challenges, including our commitment to remain carbon neutral and our efforts to promote sustainable tourism.

It is of no surprise that the Indian Ocean region is no longer based on the arithmetic of contemporary power equations, but the natural construct based on the principles of inclusivity, camaraderie and multi-stakeholderism. We recognize that Bangladesh and India as responsible nations are committed towards ensuring the rise of a free, open, inclusive and rules based Indian Ocean region. We must continue to work together to promote dialogue, cooperation and understanding among all stakeholders, respecting each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. While the Indian Ocean region has immense potential for peace and prosperity, it can only be realized if we work together in partnership to overcome the challenges that we all collectively face. Bhutan remains fully committed to work with our neighbours to promote peace, prosperity, and partnership. Let us seize this opportunity to build a more secure, stable, and sustainable future for our region and the world at large.

Author Brief Bio: Dr. Tandi Dorji is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan.

Note: This article is based on the Text of the Speech delivered by Dr. Tandi Dorji, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan, at the 6th Indian Ocean Conference 2023 in Dhaka on 13 May 2023.

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