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Post at: Jun 15 2022

Colombo Security Conclave

Recent Context

  • On 19th April 2022 India's NIA organises Colombo Security Conclave Virtual Conference on Sharing of Experiences in the investigation of terrorism cases.
    • The virtual conference was attended by panellists and participants from India, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
    • The conference was one of the engagement activities identified in the Colombo Security Conclave's 'Roadmap for Cooperation and Activities' for 2022-23 agreed by member countries at the 5th National Security Advisor (NSA) level meeting held in the Maldives on March 9-10.

5th Edition of Colombo Security Conclave

  • The CSC, was formed in 2011 as a trilateral maritime security grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • Delegations from Bangladesh and Seychelles participated as Observers.
  • Mauritius’ elevation in the group has also confirmed the wide-held belief that the CSC is becoming institutionalized.
  • The fifth meeting of national security advisers of the CSC identified five broad areas of cooperation to strengthen regional security. 
  • The five pillars of cooperation are
    • Maritime safety and security,
    • Countering terrorism and radicalization, 
    • Combating trafficking and transnational organized crime, 
    • Cybersecurity, protection of critical infrastructure and technology, and 
    • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Significance of CSC

  • Security concerns
    • Growing security concerns around maritime safety and security, human and drug trafficking, arms trafficking along maritime routes, terrorism and violent extremism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), and cybersecurity are some of the common worries for the six countries.
  • Environment issues
    • Recent marine polluting events in the Indian Ocean Region including those of MV Xpress Pearl, MT New Diamond, and MV Wakashio played a big part in the group focusing attention on marine environment issues.
  • China Factor
    • China is also a significant driver for India’s Indian Ocean outreach. 
    • The logic in bringing additional members to the CSC is also a recognition of competition with China for the support of these countries.
    • Beijing has been making enormous efforts in all of the Indian Ocean countries to establish influence, and such efforts have compelled India to enhance its own outreach in the region.
    • Its military base in Djibouti as well as its managing of the Gwadar port in Pakistan and the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka are all constant reminders to India of China's growing naval presence close to Indian waters.

SAARC and CSC

  • The CSC has potential to succeed but it risks being splintered if India focuses on creating an Anti-China group.
  • Even though the strategic interests of the six countries are aligned in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), an attempt to mold the CSC into an institution to counter China’s influence would meet the fate of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), widely regarded as a failure.
  • A simple metric for the CSC’s success would avoiding the reasons for SAARC’s failures by keeping bilateral issues from affecting decisions in the subregional grouping.
  • In SAARC’s case, it was the bilateral issues between India and Pakistan that diminished the efficacy of the organization.

Conclusion

●    India’s aspiration for being recognised as the Preferred Security Partner (PSP) in the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) is underscored by its commitment to the security of its smaller neighbours in the region.
●    India possesses the military capability necessary for swiftly responding to a crisis in its vicinity and has the track record of unequivocally extending its military, economic and human resources for the security of its neighbours. 
●    Minilateral forums such as the CSC are significant in accentuating India’s image as the PSP to its maritime neighbours.
 


 


 


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