Durban, South Africa (ADV) – South Africa has called for the uniting of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East at the ongoing the 18th Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM).
The IORA is an inter-governmental organisation which was established on 7 March in 1997.
The vision for IORA originated during a visit by late President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to India in 1995, where he mentioned that the natural urge of the facts of history and geography should broaden itself to include the concept of an Indian Ocean Rim for socio-economic co-operation.
“Our vision for the region is encapsulated in our theme for our Chairship of “IORA: uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through Enhanced Co-operation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development,” said Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
“This theme encompasses South Africa’s view that the Indian Ocean Region should be characterized as a region of peace, stability and development; and we consider IORA as the pre-eminent regional organisation within which to pursue this ambitious goal.”
Home to nearly 2.7 billion people, Member States whose shores are washed by the ocean are rich in cultural diversity and richness in languages, religions, traditions, arts and cuisines.
They vary considerably in terms of their areas, populations and levels of economic development and may also be divided into a number of sub-regions (Australasia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Eastern & Southern Africa), each with their own regional groupings (such as ASEAN, SAARC, GCC and SADC, to name a few). Despite such diversity and differences, these countries are bound together by the Indian Ocean.
Minister Sisulu also mentioned that in pioneering unity and peace, the IORA will be preserving the legacy of the founding father of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
“The legacy of former President Mandela lives on with us as he left an indelible mark on our society, having laid the foundation for a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society in South Africa. Internationally, President Mandela believed in working towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world. Similarly, for us in the Indian Ocean Region, he left a legacy through his vision of an Indian Ocean Rim for socio-economic co-operation and other peaceful endeavours. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that this year’s COM will honour and pay tribute to its founding father and global icon,” she said.
Sisulu also urged IORA to be dynamic and make sure that “our structures and processes can adapt to the shifts in global trends and our own priorities.”
“The Association’s institutional structure, through the Charter, is thus also being reformed to ensure that it is able to accommodate and respond to the new priorities and goals that we have identified in the Jakarta Concord and its Action Plan (2017-2021) to take the Association into its third decade and beyond. A revised Charter will give us this necessary flexibility and longevity.
“To this end, we are establishing new dedicated functional bodies to deal specifically with IORA’s priorities in areas such as Maritime Safety and Security, the Blue Economy, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Tourism. At the same time, we are also looking to revitalise existing institutional mechanisms to enhance Trade and Investment facilitation, with a focus on the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises, while also strengthening and increasing the role of academia in IORA, as was envisaged at the founding of the Association,” added Sisulu.
© Bur-csa – A.H – N.A / From our regional correspondent Mkhululi Chimoio – African Daily Voice (ADV)