IORA Council of Ministers meeting Australia country statement

  • Speech, check against delivery

Foreign Minister Momen, Excellencies, As-salamu alaykum, I thank Bangladesh for its impressive performance as IORA Chair this year, for hosting this week’s meetings, and for your generous hospitality for all of us this week. 

Australia’s prosperity and security is intimately tied to the Indian Ocean.  As a country, we are proud of our diverse heritage which includes strong diaspora communities drawn from our region.

IORA is the only ministerial-level forum in the Indian Ocean and it plays a pivotal role in helping us work together to tackle shared challenges. 

And there is no more important challenge than safeguarding the resilience of our region.

Peace, stability and respect for the rules-based international order are essential preconditions for a thriving and dynamic Indian Ocean community. 

The IORA Outlook on the Indo-Pacific lays out the kind of region that we want to see. One that adheres to international law, particularly the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. 

We encourage esteemed delegates here today to approve the Outlook and thank India for its leadership of this important body of work. 

Our collective task of advancing IORA’s objectives has been made more difficult by Russia’s illegal, unilateral and immoral war against the people of Ukraine. 

Russia’s actions are hurting the global economy, constraining growth, disrupting trade, and heightening food and energy insecurity, especially in our region. So It is in all of our interests for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and to end this war.

I’m proud to reflect on Australia’s constructive engagement in IORA over the last year. This includes contributing AUD $100,000 to the Special Fund to assist our region recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

We thank Bangladesh and the Seychelles for hosting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to run IORA Search and Rescue exercises.

We thank members for their support as we took on the role of Coordinating Country of Trade and Investment, and in particular Bangladesh for organising the very successful IORA Business Forum earlier this week.

Today I’m pleased to launch the IORA Blue Carbon Hub’s Blue Forest Finance Report.  Australia’s support for the IORA Blue Carbon Hub is part of our commitment to strengthening the health of the Indian Ocean.  We also commend Indonesia, with support from Germany, for its leadership of the Strategic Framework of Action on Marine Debris in the Indian Ocean.

Chair, Australia has a long history of active engagement in IORA, which reflects the importance that we place on regional cooperation.

We are deeply concerned by the heavy-handed repression of protests and the ongoing persecution of women and girls in Iran, noting its role as IORA’s coordinating country for Women’s Economic Empowerment and a candidate for IORA Vice Chair.

Australia calls on the Iranian government to exercise restraint in response to ongoing demonstrations and respect the human rights of women and girls.

Your excellencies, put simply - the Indian Ocean region matters. 

IORA matters.  And it is up to all of us to create the kind of environment that we want to live in.

I look forward to working with you to build a stronger, safer and more prosperous region. 

Thank you.

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