India said on Wednesday it had joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCOC), a grouping on maritime matters aimed at countering piracy, as an observer as part of efforts aimed at enhancing maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. The move to join the grouping followed a high-level virtual meeting held on August 26, the external affairs ministry said.
The development comes at a time when India is shoring up its position in the Indian Ocean and nearby waters as part of its overall Indo-Pacific policy. India has signed reciprocal military logistics support agreements with Australia and Japan this year to increase interoperability with the navies of those countries.
The DCOC, which aims to repress piracy and armed robbery against ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, was adopted on January 29, 2009, by the representatives of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen.
Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates signed on later, taking the total countries in the grouping to 20.
The 18 member states are located in areas adjoining the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Africa and include island nations in the Indian Ocean. Besides India, the other observers in the grouping are Japan, Norway, the UK and the US.
“As an observer at [DCOC], India looks forward to working together with… member states towards coordinating and contributing to enhanced maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region,” the external affairs ministry said.
Under the code of conduct, the member states cooperate in countering piracy and armed robbery on the high seas and promoting the implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
They also cooperate in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of persons suspected of having committed acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, the interdiction and seizure of suspect ships, the rescue of ships and people subject to piracy and armed robbery, and the conduct of joint operations.