The Role and Scope of the Colombo Security Conclave

The Role and Scope of the Colombo Security Conclave

Relevance: GS II- International relations-(Regional groupings) Context: In early December, India’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Ajit Doval, took part in the sixth NSA meeting of the CSC.

India's National Security Adviser (NSA), Ajit Doval, participated in the sixth NSA meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) held in early December. This significant gathering involved member states Sri Lanka and Mauritius, alongside observer states Bangladesh and Seychelles.

The primary focus of the meeting was to assess the CSC's progress over the past year and establish a roadmap for 2024, aiming to fortify a secure and stable Indian Ocean.

Origins and Evolution of the Colombo Security Conclave(CSC):

Formed in 2011, the CSC emerged as a trilateral maritime security partnership involving India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. However, tensions between India and the Maldives halted its progression post-2014. In 2020, India spearheaded efforts to revive, expand, and formalize the CSC, incorporating Mauritius, Seychelles, and Bangladesh.

Key Pillars of the Colombo Security Conclave(CSC)

The CSC's core objectives revolve around enhancing:

  1. Maritime Security and Safety

  2. Countering Terrorism and Radicalization

  3. Combatting Trafficking and Transnational Crime

  4. Safeguarding Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure

  5. Providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

India's Role in the Indian Ocean Region:

India has historically played a pivotal role in bolstering security across the Indian Ocean. The nation's proactive involvement stems from the limited maritime security capacities of island nations, compelling India to aid in defense capability building, infrastructure development, and equipment provisions. India has been a swift responder during regional crises, offering humanitarian and economic assistance, notably during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Impact of China:

China's considerable investments in the Indian Ocean through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have amplified regional dynamics. Beijing's intentions involve securing sea lines of communication, curtailing India's influence, and bolstering its naval capabilities. Noteworthy is China's establishment of strategic bases and infrastructure in various states, including Sri Lanka, and its active engagement in maritime exercises. This move challenges the existing security architecture in the region.

Significance of the Colombo Security Conclave

The CSC's scope encompasses investigating terrorism, narcotics trafficking, cybersecurity, maritime law, and coastal security. Through joint working groups and capacity-building initiatives, member nations collaborate on counter-terrorism, law enforcement, and cybersecurity measures. The CSC's focused operations play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of commercial shipping and legitimate maritime activities in the Indian Ocean.

Furthermore, the Colombo Security Conclave promotes cooperation among security agencies, facilitating information exchange and enhancing interoperability. Its focus on cyber threats, marine pollution incidents like the MV Xpress Pearl, MT New Diamond, and MV Wakashio reflect the conclave's dedication to addressing pressing challenges in the region.

Advait IAS