1. Indian Ocean has become the focal point in geo-politics in the 21st century. This third largest water body of the world with Rim Nations of 2.7 billion population has witnessed maritime threats emanating from piracy, narcotics/human smuggling, terrorism, waste dumping and IUU fishing over the past few decades whilst addressing maritime concerns stemming from maritime borders, resources and trade. These are being mitigated to a certain extent at present through regional and extra regional collaborative initiatives which have enhanced the sharing of information and thereby containing maritime threats to an appreciable level. However, the traditional threats appear to be presented in a different format today in the Indian Ocean Region that need refinement to the existing mechanisms, to ensure safer seas to all, be it regional or extra regional.
2. In this context, synergizing individual efforts in a collaborative manner has become a necessity in managing affairs of the Indian Ocean. Each player, despite its locality, needs to understand their maritime vision and its fit on the regional context and beyond in the wider global context. The maritime vision therefore, dictates the periphery; from foreign relations to economy. In a world where all players are connected by trade and commerce through maritime shipping, no player can afford to drive its own agenda alone unless all players teamed up as a regional body through bi-lateral and multi-lateral collaboration. Accordingly understanding the maritime vision of the other players also is a necessity in order to reap the best out of the maritime domain. This would invariably present both opportunities and threats; a threat to own may not necessarily be a threat to any other player in this globalized world.
3. These opportunities and threats need to be managed; with strength, wisdom and benevolence. It therefore, is very logical to manage Indian Ocean affairs, concerns and issues in a collaborative managerial framework with better understanding and sharing opportunities for the common good of mankind. With world’s largest populations and booming economies being at the rim, peaceful co-existence is a matter of importance to the Indian Ocean. In this perspective, it should be noted that it was as far as in 1971, Sri Lanka persuaded UN to adopt the resolution 2832 on Indian Ocean-Zone of Peace, paving all players of the Indian Ocean to manage the ocean in a collaborative manner. Thus, synergizing individual efforts irrespective of their economic, security or social status, to better manage matters of maritime significance where we want to go in our search of economic and social prosperity.
4. The Galle Dialogue 2018 is looking at offering a forum for regional and extra-regional players to express their maritime vision and management, discuss the concerns, and better understand each other. In this backdrop, with renewed focus on Indian Ocean affairs, the ninth edition of Galle Dialogue International Maritime Conference continues on its legacy of connecting the East and the West in the island of serendipity; Sri Lanka, under the theme of “Synergizing for Collaborative Maritime Management”.