Oct 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says the Indian Ocean will truly be the 'ocean in the future' and all littoral states should strive to strengthen a common rules-based order.
Delivering the keynote address of the "The Indian Ocean: Defining our Future" Conference at the Temple Trees Thursday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said each littoral nation should commit in strengthening the mechanism based on common law in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
He noted that maintaining freedom of navigation in the sea lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean are of paramount importance in global trade and pointed out that the cables laid beneath the Indian Ocean should be secured.
Sri Lanka, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, sees the need to start examining these issues in depth as much of the undersea cable connectivity between West and East travels over the seabed adjacent to Sri Lanka.
"We want to ensure the freedom of digital connectivity not only as an Indian Ocean objective, but as a global objective," he said.
He said Sri Lanka wants to establish an international center for excellence on the safety of undersea cables in Colombo and will work closely with the Global maritime Crime program to establish the center. Effectively combatting and prosecuting maritime crime is needed to facilitate state capacity in this regard, he added.
Another key areas is the sustainable management and exploitation of undersea resources. Given that many Indian Ocean littoral states lack the capacity to determine or exploit their resource endowments they would necessarily have to partner with other states in such activities.
"Therefore, we are studying on countering transnational maritime crime and proposing to strengthen maritime surveillance operational capability. This would help enhancement of situational awareness of the territorial and extended waters by providing a maritime surface for law enforcement purposes. We strongly believe that despite these difficulties, for the benefit of future generations, we should commit ourselves to strengthening a rules-based order," he said.
"Indian Ocean is our common heritage and the common enabler of our peace and prosperity. Let us ensure that it will always remain so," the Sri Lankan Prime Minister urged.