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Australia India Institute Task Force on Indian Ocean Security

This report outlines the need to incorporate an array of non-traditional security issues, and a "new Indo-Pacific" concept into Australia and India's higher order security thinking.
Image of the report front cover


(Edited from original executive summary)

In order to fully develop the argument for both the enlargement of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for
Regional Cooperation (IORARC) agenda to incorporate an array of non-traditional security issues, and the incorporation of a new Indo-Pacific concept into higher order security thinking, this Report is divided into three major sections.

The first section considers the changing security dynamics of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This section begins by arguing for the need to consider security as a multidimensional concept in the 21st century. The report suggests that policy-makers need to incorporate a broader and more interdependent concept of security than the traditional military concept in order to maximise long-term regional security. Thus, concepts of human security, economic and resources security, maritime security and environmental security are interrelated and critically important to 21st century state and regional stability. This section of the report also evaluates the narratives surrounding proponents of different regional security structures. It finds that a new concept of maritime regionalism can be applied to a range of non-traditional security concerns in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, while there is need for a new regional maritime security regime, the old exclusive Indo-Pacific security concept will not likely guarantee long-term regional stability.

The second major section of the report provides a detailed description and analysis of the various components of the multidimensional security concept as they apply to all Indian Ocean states. It is concluded that, within the IOR, while there has been a significant increase in military expenditure among some states, and while important inter-state conflicts still remain, in reality, most conflicts actually occur within rather than between states. As a result, at the Indian Ocean regional level, greater policy attention needs to be given to aspects of human security, economic and resources security, maritime security and environmental security.

The third major section of the report considers the roles of India and Australia in Indo-Pacific security. This section of the report focuses on the development of the Australia-India strategic relationship and how this can be enhanced to the benefit of both states in the context of shifts in the balance of power between the Indian and Pacific oceans and the implications of the emergence of an Indo-Pacific strategic region. It is argued that there is considerable scope for increased bilateral cooperation between India and Australia both within the IOR and beyond. It is suggested that, given the current configuration of IOR-ARC, both India and Australia can take the lead in increasing regional awareness and cooperation among Indian Ocean rim states. Furthermore, both India and Australia can be active participants in the provision of maritime security through the entire Indo-Pacific littoral. In short, both India and Australia can take the lead in facilitating the development of security agendas for both the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific security systems.


In summary, the following 22 conclusions and policy suggestions are made:

  1. There is a need for a new Indo-Pacific maritime security regime that involves all relevant stakeholders in matters of regional maritime security.
  2. The agenda of IOR-ARC needs to be expanded beyond economic matters to incorporate a range of non-traditional security issues.
  3. Due weight should be placed on the increasing geopolitical importance of the IOR in national and regional security policies.
  4. Recognition should be given by all regional states to the multidimensional nature of security in the development of national and regional security policies.
  5. Most conflicts occur within states. Maximising human development requires appropriate attention be given to military expenditure compared with other forms of expenditure.
  6. Competition for power and influence within the IOR by outside powers is unlikely to maximise long-term regional stability.
  7. Regional security is especially jeopardised by five “states of concern” that are failed or failing, not free and highly repressive.
  8. To ensure long-term national and regional stability, the maximisation of human security should be a central goal.
  9. There is a need to develop cooperative mechanisms for collectively dealing with displaced persons, refugees and people trafficking.
  10. A major regional policy target should be the “vicious circle of economic security and civil conflict”.
  11. ODA targets and outcomes need to be more closely focused and monitored.
  12. The “militarisation of energy security” is a regional cause for concern.
  13. A new Indo-Pacific Maritime Energy Security (INDOMES) regime is proposed to incorporate all states that are stakeholders in maximising the security of energy flows through the Indian Ocean.
  14. Integrated land-sea policies are essential to enhance maritime security.
  15. Agricultural technology and other ODA need to target regional foodinsecure states.
  16. Water sharing, conservation and technological cooperation are essential for states that are water insecure.
  17. There is a need for a regional agreement on the prevention of illegal dumping of nuclear waste.
  18. The potential growth of sustainable fisheries requires a new integrated regional management framework.
  19. Collective action is essential to ameliorate the adverse impacts of humaninduced climate change.
  20. The long-term maximisation of regional security requires the adoption and development of a new collective Indian Ocean maritime regional paradigm.
  21. Both India and Australia can take the lead in increasing awareness and cooperation among Indian Ocean rim states.
  22. India and Australia can also enhance their own bilateral security relationship through greater cooperation in maritime security issues both within the Indian Ocean and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.