Factum Sri Lanka, an Asia-Pacific focused think-tank on foreign policy, in partnership with 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.

The Dialogue was held in the backdrop of the Indian Ocean - The Ocean of the 21st Century’s significant big power contestations and focused on how small, island, and littoral states in South Asia can position themselves as hubs for cooperation in several areas, such maritime infrastructure, dealing with maritime disasters, climate resilience, and economy and trade.

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 defense 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 the Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.


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Adviser to Factum, Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema (C), the President of BIPSS General Muniruzzaman and Co-Founder of Baani, Thoriq Hamid (L) sign Trilateral MoU on Maritime Cooperation.



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