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Barana Waidyatilake, Research Fellow at LKI, was an invited panelist at the “Colombo Dialogue 2018: Emerging Dialogue in the Indian Ocean Regional Cooperation on Maritime Domain Awareness” on 23 January 2018.
The one-day trilateral conference was co-hosted by the Pathfinder Foundation, Carnegie India, and the National Security College at the Australian National University (ANU). The opening address, delivered by His Excellency Bryce Hutchesson, Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, was followed by three panel discussions on the themes of: (i) Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific Oceans and Transnational Security Threats; (ii) Challenges in Building Regional Maritime Security Architecture in the Indian Ocean; and (iii) Governance at Sea and Maritime Domain Awareness.
Mr. Waidyatilake spoke on Sri Lanka’s strategy for maritime security during the panel discussion on “Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific Oceans and Transnational Security Threats.” The panel was chaired by former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, and other panelists included Dr. C. Raja Mohan, Director of Carnegie India, and Commodore (Retd.) Richard Menhinick of the Royal Australian Navy.
In his presentation, Mr. Waidyatilake argued that Sri Lanka’s best option to ensure its maritime security was to advocate for a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean region. However, recognising its limits as a smaller state, Sri Lanka would have to gain the support of larger powers in the region in this task. The quadrilateral security dialogue between India, Australia, the US, and Japan is a grouping that Sri Lanka should monitor closely in this regard.
Other participants of the forum included Prof. Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at ANU; Dr. David Brewster of ANU; Vice Admiral Anil Chopra of the Indian Navy; Admiral Travis Sinniah, former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy; Darshana Baruah of Carnegie India; and several experts in maritime security, maritime strategy, and regional cooperation.