IORA was established in 1997 to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. It seeks to expand mutually beneficial cooperation through a consensus-based approach. IORA is the only regional forum linking most countries on the Indian Ocean rim through an annual Foreign Ministers' meeting.
IORA Ministers agreed to six priority areas of cooperation in 2011. These are: maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk management, academic and science & technology cooperation, and tourism and cultural exchanges.
It was agreed at the 2013 IORA Council of Ministers meeting to change the name from Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, IOR-ARC, to Indian Ocean Rim Association, IORA.
The Association comprises 20 member states:
The Association also has six dialogue partners:
The Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation and the Indian Ocean Research Group are observers.
Development of IORA
IORA is characterised by consensus decision making and minimal institutionalisation. At the IORA Ministerial Meeting in August 2010, a new Charter was endorsed.
The 2010 IORA Charter states that the organisation's primary objective is to promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of member states, and to create common ground for regional economic cooperation.
The IORA Charter lists areas of cooperation including trade facilitation and liberalisation; promotion of foreign investment; scientific and technological exchanges; tourism; movement of natural persons and service providers on a non-discriminatory basis; the development of infrastructure and human resources inter-alia poverty alleviation; promotion of maritime transport and related matters; and cooperation in the fields of fisheries trade, research and management, aquaculture, education and training, energy, IT, health, protection of the environment, agriculture, and disaster management.
Australia became the Chair of IORA in November 2013 for a two-year period. Past IORA Chairs include Mauritius (1997-1998); Mozambique (1999-2000); Oman (2001-2002); Sri Lanka 2003-2005); Iran (2006-2008); Yemen (2009-2011); and India (2011-2013).
Australia was a founding member of IORA. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibility for IORA policy, in consultation with other relevant agencies.
The Council of Ministers (COM) is IORA’s peak decision-making body. The COM is usually attended by Foreign Ministers. The Academic Group, Business Forum, Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) are the three working-level bodies. The Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) considers proposals from these bodies and makes recommendations to the COM for final approval.
All the IORA bodies meet once a year, just before the annual COM. In 2010, it was decided that the CSO would meet twice yearly and the first inter sessional senior officials meeting was held in Canberra in March 2011.
The 2012 Council of Ministers meeting was held in Gurgaon, India, on 2 November 2012.
The 2013 Council of Ministers meeting was held in Perth on 1 November 2013. For the first time Ministers adopted a declaration upholding the principles for peaceful, productive and sustainable use of the Indian Ocean and its resources.
- Perth Principles - Declaration of the Indian Ocean Rim Association on the principles for peaceful, productive and sustainable use of the Indian Ocean and its resources, Perth, 1 November 2013
- Perth Communiqué - 13th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Perth, 1 November 2013
Updated February 2014