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India is Dijbouti Code Of Conduct’s New Observer: Expanding its Maritime Security Footprint

India becomes an observer in the Dijbouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment amidst growing tensions between India and China along their Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. According to sources, India aims to work with the DCOC member states in order to enhance security in the Western Indian Ocean Region, without having a fixed duration laid out as an observer. 

India has individually tried to enhance maritime safety and security in the region, but becoming a part of the DCOC will further increase India’s participation on a coordinated multilateral track. Training, capacity building and information exchange would also enhance maritime security in the IOR. This will also help in providing greater transparency by upgrading information sharing mechanisms. These however do not relate to India’s bilateral relations with Dijbouti or any other country in the region. 

DCOC/JA is a group of 18 member states which are adjoining the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, the East coast of Africa and Island countries in the Indian Ocean. With an aim to decrease piracy and armed robbery in the Western Indian Ocean region, it was established in January 2009. The Jeddah Amendment came into effect in January 2017. This amendment has helped enhancing the scope of DCOC, repression of illicit maritime activity, terrorism and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. India joins Japan, Norway, UK and US in the list of Observer. 

As a solution to the maritime challenges, India announced at the East Asia Summit the Indo- Pacific Oceans’ Initiative’ in November 2019- with its seven pillars including maritime ecology, maritime security, marine resources, capacity building and resource sharing, disaster risk reduction and management, science, technology and academic cooperation, trade and connectivity and maritime transport. The Secretariat of the DCOC/JA of this organization is supported by the International Maritime Organisation. And the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the EU, INTERPOL and Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) are represented at the meetings.