General Studies IIISecurity

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium



Key Highlights:

  • The 7th edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a biennial event,
  • It was hosted by the French Navy at La Réunion from 28 June to 01 July 2021.
  • Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy, participated virtually in the inaugural session of the event and provided his congratulatory remarks to the Outgoing and Incoming Chairmen.
  • During the Symposium, SME presentations were made by French Institute of International Relations
  • The Symposium also held panel discussions themed on the three IONS working Groups viz., 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.
  • 6th IONS and CoC was conducted by Iran Navy in April 2018 at Tehran.
  • Owing to the pandemic, the CoC 2021, will be hosted by French Navy later this year.


About Indian Ocean Naval Symposium:

  • The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, commonly known as IONS,
  • It is a biennial event
  • Launched in 2008, it is a voluntary initiative, consisting of 32 nations, that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues.
  • It is a forum to increase maritime cooperation among the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The forum helps to preserve peaceful relations between nations, and thus is critical to building an effective maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region and is also fundamental to our collective prosperity.
  • The inaugural IONS Seminar was held by the Indian Navy in 2008.
  • Subsequent seminars and meetings of the ‘Conclave of Chiefs’ have been held at the commencement of each two year IONS Chairmanship: United Arab Emirates in 2010, South Africa in 2012, Australia in 2014, Bangladesh in 2016 and Iran in 2018. In 2020 the IONS Chairmanship rotates to France and in 2022 to Thailand.
  • IONS includes 24 nations that permanently hold territory that abuts or lies within the Indian Ocean, and 8 observer nations:

Objective of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

  • It endeavours to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly cooperative solutions on the way ahead.
  • The IONS acts as a security construct for the Indian Ocean region and apart from its series of symposiums, it conducts numerous other activities like workshops, essay competitions and lectures to promote its objective.

Members of IONS

  • 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.


 China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

Significance of the group

  • The forum has gradually built up its agenda and has a charter now. It has three main working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • Most importantly, its chairmanship is on rotation and Iran is chairing it at present. So, everyone has a stake in it. There’s been progress on the HADR front and on the SAR front.
  • IONS’ productivity as a non-controversial platform for the management of security issues in the region has been further advanced by the jointly held Search and Rescue naval drill by India and China at the height of the Doklam crisis, under the aegis of the Bangladesh Navy.

India’s ambitions:

  • 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 Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Source: PIB


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