Factum Sri Lanka, The Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS), and The Baani Centre for International Policy, Maldives, held a Trilateral Dialogue on Maritime Cooperation in the Indian Ocean in Colombo on April 30, 2023.
A panel discussion chaired by Ambassador Pamela Jayasekera Deen featured the President of BIPSS Major General Muniruzzaman, Rear Admiral (Retd) Y. N. Jayarathna, and Co-Founder of The Baani Centre Thoriq Hamid.
‘’The biggest problem for South Asia is the absence of maritime security architecture for the region,” noted Major General Muniruzzaman of BIPSS. ‘’The Indian Ocean region is a center of gravity in international politics. 70% of energy resources and 80% of global oil supplies are transported through the Indian Ocean,’’ he added.
There is a need to build capacity around marine spatial planning, observed former Chief Hydrographer Rear Admiral (Retd) Y. N. Jayarathna. ‘’Maritime security infrastructure and surveillance must be improved,’’ he explained, noting that ‘’in the last five years maritime tracking systems have improved significantly in Sri Lanka.’’
‘’Potential oil spills, illegal fishing, narcotics trafficking, and terrorism are key concerns for the Maldives,’’ noted Thoriq Hamid. ‘’Climate threats for a country like Maldives, which is home to 99% ocean and 1% land, is something we cannot afford not to worry about,’’ he added.
The Dialogue which resulted in a 6-point Declaration was attended by defence officials, diplomats, foreign policy analysts, academics, civil society, and youth, who urged transforming the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace and denuclearization. Factum, BIPSS, and Baani also signed a Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding to sustain thematic cooperation and pursue measures of mutual benefit for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.