Foreign Secretary, Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage addressed a networking meeting recently at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute taking forward Sri Lanka’s leadership role in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security (WGMSS).

As the third largest ocean woven together by trade routes, The Indian Ocean commands control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two third of the world’s oil shipments, the Indian Ocean remains an important lifeline to international trade and transport.

Considering these circumstances, realizing the importance of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean for the development of the Indian Ocean littoral states the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was established in 1997. Sri Lanka is a founding member of IORA. In 2011, IORA assigned Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) as the top priority area of focus.

Addressing the gathering, Foreign Secretary elaborated that as a part of the overall responsibilities of heading the IORA WGMSS, Sri Lanka has committed to bring together like-minded persons working on MSS related issues in order to organize a series of workshops/seminars on MSS locally and regionally, looking at how Sri Lanka can benefit from and contribute to regional cooperation on MSS.

He further stated that this networking meeting, was to set in motion the process that would stimulate healthy discussions within IORA Member States and across Member States to eventually create a broad data base of MSS Experts in the region and to share experiences and expertise among the Member States.

At the event, the Foreign Secretary also announced to the MSS fraternity that Sri Lanka is to assume the Vice Chair of IORA in the latter part of 2021, and thereafter Chair for the tenure of 2023 to 2025.

He further thanked The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Colombo and the German Think Tank Max Planck Foundation for their cooperation on MSS activities, including carrying out Sri Lanka’s responsibilities leading the IORA WGMSS.

Foreign Ministry


02 February 2021