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26th December 2023 (10 Topics)

Colombo Security Conclave (CSC)


As per the India’s participation in sixth NSA meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC), it has an imperative for India to continue pushing for a proactive CSC to address the challenges in the Indian Ocean.

The Colombo Security Conclave (CSC):


  • It brings together India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Mauritius, along with Bangladesh and the Seychelles as observers and is probably now the most active security-focused group operating in the Indian Ocean region.
  • A secretariat for the group was established in Colombo in 2021.
  • Background: In March 2022, the group adopted an agenda of five pillars:
    • Maritime safety and security;
    • Countering terrorism and radicalisation;
    • Combating trafficking and
    • Transnational organised crime;
    • Cyber-security and protection of critical infrastructure and technology; and
    • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Purpose:
    • China is crucial reason for the revival of CSC. Since the early 2000s, Beijing has invested substantively in the Indian Ocean with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, helping it access the Indian Ocean.
    • Beijing’s outreach to the Indian Ocean is to control the crucial sea lines of communication and trade and to limit India’s influence and presence.

Challenges for CSC:

  • Avoiding Redundancy in Multilateral Groups:
    • As the CSC contemplates expanding its membership, it must ensure it doesn't duplicate the efforts of existing Indian Ocean multilateral groups.
    • The effectiveness of the CSC lies in its focused membership and regular dialogues, avoiding redundancy seen in broader regional groupings like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
  • Institutionalizing Amid Political Changes:
    • The CSC faces vulnerability to domestic political changes in its member countries.
    • To overcome this challenge, the CSC should work towards institutionalizing itself within the participant nations, potentially establishing senior official-level working groups to provide stability despite shifts in governments.
  • Enhancing Bilateral Maritime Security Dialogues:
    • With the CSC incorporating the India-Sri Lanka-Maldives maritime security dialogue, India lacks dedicated bilateral maritime security dialogues with the other CSC members.
    • To maintain a focus on shared maritime concerns within the CSC, India should establish dedicated bilateral maritime security dialogues with each CSC country, complementing the broader multilateral process and fostering more targeted cooperation.

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