The 7th edition of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a biennial event, was recently hosted by the French Navy at Réunion Island.
- This biennial event which was conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008 was hosted from 28 June to 01 July 2021.
- From the Indian side, Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy, participated virtually in the inaugural session of the event.
- He provided his congratulatory remarks to the Outgoing and Incoming Chairmen.
Key Details of the Symposium:
- During the Symposium, Subject Matter Expert (SME) presentations were made by the French Institute of International Relations – Observatoire du Climat, European Union, Indian Ocean Commission, IFC Singapore, RMIFC Madagascar, and EU led Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO).
- The Symposium also held panel discussions themed on the three IONS Working Groups – HADR, Maritime Security and Information Sharing & Interoperability.
- The Naval Maritime Foundation (NMF) also participated in the Panel Discussion on HADR.
- IONS Conclave of Chiefs (CoC) is the decision-making body at the level of Chiefs of Navies, which meets biennially.
- The 6th IONS abd CoC was conducted by the Iran Navy in april 2018 at Tehran, Iran.
- Due to the Pandemic, the CoC 2021 will be hosted by the French Navy later this year.
- Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) was initiated by the Indian Navy in 2008.
- The symposium was first held in 2008 with India as host.
- The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative that brings together navies of Indian Ocean Region littoral states of the Indian Ocean region.
- It provides a forum to increase maritime security cooperation, discuss regional maritime issues, and promote friendly relationships among the member states.
- It also serves to develop an effective response mechanism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) against natural disasters.
- In addition to the symposiums, numerous other activities like workshops, essay competitions and lectures are also held under the umbrella of the organization.
- The chairmanship and location of the Symposium rotates between the various member states.
- The chairmanship of IONS has been held by India (2008-10), UAE (2010-12), South Africa (2012-14), Australia (2014-16), Bangladesh (2016-18) and Islamic Republic of Iran (2018-21).
- France assumed the Chairmanship in June 2021 for two-year tenure.
IONS include 24 member nations that touch or lie within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), and 8 observer nations.
The members have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:
- South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
- West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
- East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
- South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
The Observers nations are China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.
Significance for India:
- IONS fit into India’s three-fold ambitions in the region:
- Strengthening and deepening the relations with the Indian Ocean littoral states;
- Establishing its leadership potential and aspirations of being a net-security provider;
- Fulfilling India’s vision of a rules-based and stable maritime order in the IOR.
- It will help India to consolidate its sphere of influence from the Straits of Malacca to Hormuz.
- IONS can be used to counter-balance the increasing presence of China in the region.