India calls for global effort in fight against pirates

With incidents of piracy on the rise in the Indian Ocean region, India Monday stressed the need for an international cooperative effort to contain the sea brigands as well to address the root causes for the menace.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony made the call at a National Maritime Foundation (NMF) event here on Indian Ocean region's security, where he also pointed out that the challenge of piracy is yet to be "effectively quarantined".

"Piracy cases are continuing at an alarming rate. Clearly, the challenge of piracy is yet to be effectively quarantined. If ever there was a need for consensual and cooperative effort, it is in relation to piracy," Antony said, inaugurating the two-day event.

Noting that India has already put forward certain proposals before the United Nations -- such as an international naval force on the lines of peace-keeping troops -- to fight pirates, the defence minister said there is a consensus that while the pirates can be neutralised at sea, the real solution lies in addressing the root causes, which are complex and are actually located on land.

"Speaking of the cooperative effort that we seek to strengthen in the Indian Ocean region - it is a matter of great satisfaction for India that the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard have been contributing to the 'common good’ as it were - and to the collective security effort," he said.

Since Indian Navy joined the anti-piracy effort in October 2008, the total number of merchant ships it escorted -- nearly 2,000 -- has increased steadily, with over 85 per cent of the ships escorted flying a foreign flag.

Antony said taking into account the challenges posed by extremist ideologies, terrorism support and the scourge of the non-state entity, the assessments on piracy needed to be objective and candid for solutions to be effective.

Stressing the Indian Ocean region's  strategic importance, which has been increasing in recent decades, the Indian minister said major powers of the world, who had maintained their focus over the Atlantic-Pacific region during the Cold War decades, are now seeing the relevance of the Indian Ocean-Pacific or the Indo-Pacific combine in a new light.

"Unlike the Atlantic and Pacific, few of the major powers are geographically contiguous to its waters and yet they have maintained a certain military presence and abiding politico-diplomatic interest in these waters," he said.

Pointing out that the Indian Ocean region has seen "new partnerships being forged, old anxieties being revived and the aspirations of its vast human resource manifesting in myriad manner," he said the region also, unfortunately, hosts many of the global concerns.

"This makes the Indian Ocean a complex domain," he noted.

"The principal need is to manage the oceanic domain, in keeping with the normative principles of international law and the evolving norms for the ‘global commons’.  In the Indian Ocean Region, the net outcome is a constant turbulence of intense diplomatic activity and substantial military investments by the major powers," he added.

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