Indian Ocean Region Current Affairs - 2020

India joins Indian Ocean Commission as the fifth Observer

On March 6, 2020, India joined the Indian Ocean Commission as the fifth observer. The other four observers in the grouping are Malta, China, European Union and OIF (International Organization of La Francophonie).

Highlights

It is important for India to join as an observer at the Commission because, it will help India in expanding its plans in Western Indian Ocean. The Western Indian Ocean strategically connects South Eastern Coast of Africa. However, this move is not connected with the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. This is purely to support India interests in the western flanks of the Indo-Pacific region.

The move will also support India in its SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy. In the last two years, India has made several high-level visits and signed significant defence agreements with the member countries of Indian Ocean Commission.

Indian Ocean Commission

The Indian Ocean Commission was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius. It comprises of 5 African Indian Ocean Nations namely Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Reunion (France) and Seychelles.

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Sri Lanka withdraws from UNHRC Resolution

On February 26, 2020, the Sri Lankan Government formally notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) resolution.

Highlights

The UNHRC resolution 40/1 was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and 11 other countries. The main aim of the resolution is investigation of war time violence against Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Tamil Rebels were demanding separate homeland. They were claiming that they were ethnic tamil minority and hence are eligible for separate homeland.

The US-China Factor

The United States barred the Sri Lankan Army Chief from entering the US soil accusing him of war crimes. Experts believe that the decision of Sri Lanka to withdraw from UNHRC is an after effect of US move.

Why?

Today, China has taken the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka for a lease of 99 years. It is now used by the Chinese as a Naval base. There are more such upper hands of the Chinese in the internal political matters of Sri Lanka. With China’s greater presence in Sri Lanka and its defence forces, US was hesitant towards the Sri Lankan Army Chief visit to the US.

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