Maritime Security Cooperation: From Mistrust to Trust in the Indian Ocean Region

Bhagya Senaratne


Home to one fifth of the world’s waterbody, the Indian Ocean is abundant with a variety of mineral and biological resources. As the ocean space housing one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, it is crucial that its natural resources and its environment are safeguarded. In ancient times this ocean space has been an area of great cooperation, however, in present times the Indian Ocean has been largely confounded by distrust. The problem under study in this research was: even though the Indian Ocean Region is an extremely important and highly utilised ocean space that a vast majority of the world relies on, there is inadequate cooperation between the littoral states as well as the extra-regional states in ensuring the waterbody is safe. As such, the objectives of this research were to analyse why there is inadequate cooperation within the Indian Ocean Region; and to analyse how the Indian Ocean littoral countries and its users can cooperate with one another in ensuring maritime security cooperation. Primary sources for the qualitative research included policy documents and correspondence whilst secondary data included newspaper articles, reputed journals and websites. The data gathered from these sources were coded to derive the analysis in this research. As present challenges are diverse and dynamic, countries are singularly unable to ensure ocean spaces are safe unless they have shared intelligence and information from a variety of stakeholders. The paper argues that Maritime Domain Awareness enables intelligence sharing, as well as in exchanging capabilities and resources. In conclusion, there are many avenues for maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean such as by sharing capabilities, resources and skills. It can also cooperate to eliminate non-traditional security threats, which affects both the littoral states as well as the users of the Indian Ocean. 




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