Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers, Concluding Press Statement by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
It is my pleasure to declare the 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers and related meetings a success. We gathered here in the beautiful Indian Ocean port city of Durban, where the local authorities have availed the city’s facilities and resources for our meetings. For this we are very grateful.
It was auspicious that the 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers coincided with our commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Oliver Reginald Tambo, former President of the African National Congress, premier diplomat, and pre-eminent son of South Africa and Africa.
During the Council meeting, South Africa assumed the Chair of IORA and the meeting was used successfully to advance South Africa’s priorities for its time as IORA Chair from 2017 to 2019, including the African Union’s 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and Agenda 2063.
The Council meeting took place under the theme IORA � uniting the peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development. This encompasses South Africa’s view that the Indian Ocean Region should be characterized as a region of peace, stability and development within which to pursue the goal of promoting socio-economic cooperation for the wellbeing and development of the countries and peoples of the Indian Ocean Rim.
The Council meeting was preceded by meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group, the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum and the Working Group on Trade and Investment, as well as the Committee of Senior Officials.
The significant outcomes of the Council are outlined in the Durban Communique that was issued after the meeting, with the salient outcomes as follows:
The meeting was significant in that it was the first meeting since the historic IORA Leaders’ 20th Commemorative Summit in March 2017 that President Zuma attended. In this regard, we extended our profound congratulations and gratitude for the way in which Indonesia steered the Association and raised its profile and stature.
We also welcomed the UAE as the incoming Vice Chair, and we look forward to a productive period together as Chair and Vice Chair. We committed ourselves to ensuring a coordinated and consultative approach going forward.
The Council meeting was an opportune time to build further momentum in our efforts to strengthen the Association and its work programme, particularly the IORA Action Plan (2017-2021), which provides a firm set of realistic and measurable commitments to take IORA forward and become more outcomes orientated. To this end, we agreed to amend the IORA Charter going forward in order to strengthen the existing institutional mechanisms of the Association, and we agreed to expedite the implementation of the important new mechanisms created under the Action Plan, namely the Working Groups on Women’s Economic Empowerment, Safety and Security, and the Blue Economy, as well as the Core Group on Tourism.
Furthermore, we were encouraged by clusters of countries agreeing to lead and coordinate our drive to implement the priority actions under the Action Plan. We have further agreed to put in place a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to assess progress in this regard.
We were humbled by the Council’s appointment of South Africa’s Dr Nomvuyo Nokwe, South Africa’s former High Commissioner to Mauritius, as the next Secretary-General of IORA. Dr Nokwe will succeed Ambassador Bhagirath, who will conclude his term as Secretary-General of the Association at the end of the year. In this regard, I wish to thank Ambassador Bhagirath for his sterling leadership of the Secretariat over recent years, and we wish Dr Nokwe the best in her new position. We assure her of our support.
Another success of this Council of Ministers meeting was the Interactive Dialogue between Member States and Dialogue Partners, that particularly discussed the Blue Economy as a platform for inclusive growth and development nationally and regionally. Dialogue Partners are important, and we agreed to develop a Guidelines document for Enhanced Interaction with Dialogue Partners in IORA, which will allow us to deepen and broaden our cooperation in a systematic and strategic way. Dialogue Partners undertook to identify concrete areas of support.
As is the tradition when assuming the IORA Chair South Africa will make a financial contribution of US$ 250 000, in the form of US$ 150,000 to assist in the implementation of the IORA Action Plan 2017-2021, particularly for the establishment of the new Working Groups and the Core Group that I mentioned.
Further the African Agenda is a prominent feature of South Africa’s foreign policy, and we will make funds available for the IORA Special Fund (US$ 100 000) for pilot development projects aimed at improving the lives of IORA’s poorest people. Half of this amount (US$ 50 000) will be allocated to projects in Africa in support of African oceans economy projects under the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy.
A country’s foreign policy is firmly premised on its domestic priorities, hence, as South Africa, we expect great dividends from linking IORA’s Blue Economy to our domestic Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiative.
A highlight of the programme was a tour of the South African research vessel, the Agulhas II, which has temporarily docked at Durban harbour en route to participating in the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2). The Indian Ocean contains vast unexplored areas, and the expedition’s research will deepen our knowledge and hopefully greatly contribute towards the blue economy of our respective countries. This is the first African-led research cruise, that is multi-disciplinary and comprising of scientists and students from South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. We also have scientists and students joining us from India, Belgium and Italy.
I Thank you.
Source: Government of South Africa