GIS - 07 August, 2019: Several strategic decisions pertaining to the future and vocation of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) that were taken during the ‘Ministerial Retreat on the Future of the IOC’ were discussed during a press conference, today, at the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, in Port-Louis.
During the press conference, the Minister of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Nandcoomar Bodha, elaborated on the outcomes of the Retreat, which was held from 1 to 3 August 2019 in Moroni, in the Union of the Comoros.
Ministerial Retreat outcomes
Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegation of the Member States attending the Retreat, decreed that: the IOC must get closer to the concerns and expectations of the people of the islands; and, that the organisation's development projects must henceforth ensure that they directly affect the life of the communities of the Indian Ocean region.
The Heads also called for more connectivity between the islands and people in the area to advance regional integration. In addition to efforts to improve maritime, air and digital connections between the islands, they wished for citizens of the member countries to move freely within the region.
Moreover, the Heads of the Member States welcomed the effectiveness of regional efforts to reduce the risks of maritime piracy in our seas and advocated for major initiatives to address the region's concerns, particularly with regard to the security of our seas (drug trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, among others).
The idea of transforming the IOC into the Indian Ocean Community was also discussed during the Retreat and will be subject to further reflection within the organisation with the help of experts.
After nearly 35 years of existence, the gradual widening of the project portfolio as intervention sectors of the IOC has allowed it to assert itself as a key player in stability, cooperation and integration in the region. Hence, the renewed mandate of the IOC must cover, inter alia: issues of peace and security; the blue economy; climate change, food and sanitary security; and maritime security. The IOC has to be innovative and send a strong message to the world through its actions and decisions as challenges such as piracy and towards the blue economy are changing in dimension.
The objective of the IOC is to respond more effectively to the imperative of regional solidarity through an action of proximity based on a geopolitical vision shared and carried by a common voice. The Heads of the delegations and the Foreign Ministers see the IOC as a force that is able to bear the destiny of the region, thus, the organisation must adjust to the new expectations and aspirations of the people of the region.
Speaking about consultation and coordination, the Ministers emphasised that stronger exchanges in several fields is essential between the IOC member countries, hence the need to accelerate the pace towards a world without borders governed by increasing liberal rules affecting international trade.
The IOC Member States also agreed to provide the necessary resources to respond to the challenges posed to the region and to the aspirations of its Member States. They recognise the need to invest directly in activities to increase cooperation in addition to the support of technical and financial partners of the IOC.
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