Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium


  • The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative that brings together navies of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) littoral states to increase maritime cooperation and enhance regional security.
  • It also serves to develop an effective response mechanism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) against natural disasters.
  • The chairmanship of IONS has been held by India (2008-10), UAE (2010-12), South Africa (2012-14), Australia (2014-16), Bangladesh (2016-18) and Islamic Republic of Iran (2018-21).
    • France assumed the Chairmanship in June 2021 for a two-year tenure.


  • IONS includes 24 member nations that touch or lie within the IOR, and 8 observer nations.
  • The members have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:
    • South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
    • West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates
    • East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
    • South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Significance For India:

  • IONS fits into India’s three-fold ambitions in the region:
    • Strengthening and deepening the relations with the Indian Ocean littoral states,
    • Establishing its leadership potential and aspirations of being a net-security provider, and
    • Fulfilling India’s vision of a rules-based and stable maritime order in the IOR.
  • It will help India to consolidate its sphere of influence from the Straits of Malacca to Hormuz.
  • IONS can be used to counterbalance the increasing presence of China in the region.

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