16 November 2021
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, arrived, this afternoon, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to attend the 21st Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) scheduled to take place on 17 November 2021.
This will be the last meeting that South Africa attend as a member of the IORA Troika, as the Association’s past Chair (2017-2019), and where Bangladesh will take over the chairship from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Sri Lanka becoming the Vice-Chair.
The COM, to be held under the theme: “Harnessing the opportunities of the Indian Ocean sustainably for inclusive development”, will have to appoint the next Secretary-General of the Association.
Three Member States nominated senior Ambassadors as candidates for the position, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and an extensive interview process is being conducted to select the most suitable candidate to be considered and approved by the COM, the apex decision-making body of IORA. The COM will also approve the 2nd IORA Action Plan (2022-2027) and formalise the Vision of IORA for the Indo-Pacific.
The Meeting will also approve the Dialogue Partner Membership of the Russian Federation, resulting in all P5 members being Dialogue Partners of IORA, as well as the application by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, bringing the total number of Dialogue Partners to 11 together with the 24 Member States of IORA.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental effect on the members of the Association, like everywhere else in the world, and the Minister will utilise the opportunity to address the Member States and Dialogue Partners at the Strategic Dialogue session with Dialogue Partners on; “The Impact of Covid-19 and perspectives of economic recovery in the Indian Ocean Region”.
South Africa will continue to lead the IORA Working Group of the Blue Economy. It will also become the Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG) as well as remain very active as a Cluster Group Member of the majority of Working and Core Groups of IORA.