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‘The Indian Ocean: Defining Our Future’ conference hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), in collaboration with the Global Maritime Crimes Programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), was held on 11-12 October 2018, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The two-day Track 1.5 dialogue convened over 300 senior government officials and think tank representatives from over 40 Indian Ocean littoral states and major maritime users, to discuss issues related to economic activity, environmental sustainability, safety and security, and strengthening the law of the sea.
H.E. President Maithripala Sirisena graced the occasion and Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered the keynote address. The welcome address was made by Hon. Tilak Marapana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of LKI. Ambassador Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, traveled to Colombo to participate in the conference and to address its opening plenary.
Hon. (Dr.) Harsha de Silva, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, shared his opening remarks as Chair of the inaugural panel on ‘Navigating Challenges and Prospects in the Indian Ocean: Towards A Shared Understanding.’ Mr. Prasad Kariyawasam, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, contributed to the panel, highlighting the Indian Ocean’s significance as a zone of trade. Senior officials from India, China, and the United States and from international institutions – including the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), UNODC and Deakin University – also spoke at the opening sessions.
Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Executive Director, LKI made the introductory remarks. He also co-chaired the first round table session on ‘The Indian Ocean Economy: The New Global Growth Pole.’ Dr. Natalie Klein, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales in Australia and Nonresident Fellow of LKI, co-chaired the fourth and final round table on ‘Reinforcing International Law In The Indian Ocean: UNCLOS And Emerging Issues.’
The conference concluded with a summary of the round tables, delivered by Prof. Nayani Melegoda, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo and Board Member of LKI, while Hon. (Dr.) Harsha de Silva spoke on the way forward. For more information, visit www.indianoceanfuture.lk.