The 6th edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and Conclave of Chiefs was hosted by Iran at Tehran from 23 to 25 April 2018. It was attended by The Chief of the Naval Staff Adm Sunil Lanba who lead a four member Indian delegation for the event.
Parallel to this Sympoium, the Exhibition of Technical Capabilities of Maritime Defense was being held by the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy at the venue of the symposium.
Idea Behind IONS
The IONS was conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008. The forum seeks to enhance maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion on regionally relevant maritime issues that would lead to common understanding on the way ahead.
The forum helps to preserve peaceful relations between nations, and thus is critical to building an effective maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region and is also fundamental to our collective prosperity and to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly cooperative solutions on the way ahead.
History of IONS
The inaugural edition of IONS was held in February 2008 at New Delhi, with Indian Navy as the Chair for two years.
Subsequent seminars and meetings of the ‘Conclave of Chiefs’ have been held at the commencement of each two year IONS Chairmanship: United Arab Emirates in 2010, South Africa in 2012, Australia in 2014 and Bangladesh in 2016. In April 2018 the IONS Chairmanship rotates to Iran, and in 2020, to France.
A relatively young forum, barely in its 10th year of existence, it has grown into a formidable organisation with 23 members and 09 observers.
IONS was conceived within the ambit of Article 52 of UN Charter, inspired by the initial successes of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and modelled on the lines of the West Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS).
Under the IONS charter of business adopted in 2014, the forum has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and maritime security (anti-piracy).
Members of IONS
There are 35 member navies of the IONS which have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:
- South Asian Littorals: India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
- West Asian Littorals: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen
- East African Littorals: Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eriteria, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania
- South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste.
- Observer Countries: China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.
The 6th edition of IONS was held in Tehran. The idea of IONS was conceived by Indian Navy. As the founder nation, India will also be conducting commemorative activities in November 2018 at Kochi, for celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year.
The visit of the Chief of the Naval Staff aimed at consolidating bilateral naval relations between India and Iran and to explore new avenues for naval cooperation. Admiral Sunil Lanba also held bilateral discussions with the Commander IRI Navy, and other participating ‘Chiefs of Navy/ Head of Maritime Agencies’.