The sixth Deputy National Advisers' meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave held in Kochi on Thursday resolved to jointly combat the increasing threats related to maritime safety, terrorism, trafficking and organised crime affecting the partner nations.
A roadmap for cooperation was discussed at the meeting attended by the members that include India, Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. The representatives of Bangladesh and Seychelles — the two observer nations in the conclave — also shared their views on the occasion.
Suggesting the formulation of flexible prosecution laws among the member countries, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Sri Lanka recommended setting up joint working groups and agencies to collect, store and disseminate intelligence on common developments as an effective way to tackle the various threats.
"We commonly suffer from terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation of social groups. In this increasingly connected world, the tendency of cooperation between radical groups in regional countries has been a common phenomenon. Trafficking and organised crimes have been a substantial security threat. Among these crimes, proliferation of small arms, trafficking of drugs, international crime are some of the common threats pertaining to the security of our nations," he said.
Ahmed Latheef, Foreign Secretary of Maldives, said that the security outlook of the partnering nations needs to remain dynamic as the common threats continue to evolve in unprecedented ways.
"The protection of coastal communities and marine resources remain our highest priority. Unfortunately, climate change has increased the frequency and severity of detrimental natural disasters. Furthermore, we remain vulnerable to threats of trafficking, organised crime and terrorism, which emanate through the maritime domain as well. It is truly in our absolute best interests to increase our maritime security awareness. We must ensure that every member country needs to be on the same footing, especially in terms of skills, capacity and understanding. We have to strive to have a culture whereby information, knowledge and experience flow through the partner nations," he said.
Yoidhisteer Thecka, Principal Coordinator of Security Matters at the Prime Minister's Office, Mauritius, suggested a coordinated approach among the partner nations to protect the mutual interests and to tackle common security threats. "Some of the major challenges involve issues like cyber security, terrorism, radicalisation, drugs, illegal and unregulated fishing and environmental damages. The extended use of technology and bilateral cooperation will strengthen our maritime security and safety," he said.
Mohammed Abdul Kalam Azad, Defence Advisor, Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi sought the help of India in ensuring the safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of forcibly-displaced Myanmar nationals to their country of origin. "The problem of security is becoming increasingly acute as thousands of Myanmar nationals, facing an uncertain future, are becoming attracted to violence, extremism, radicalism, drugs and human trafficking. Bangladesh expects an effective role from India as we share a common sense of security arising out of this situation," he said.
Colonel Simon Archange Dine, Chief of Staff of Defence Forces, Seychelles, called for collaboration among the partner nations in protecting the oceans and marine resources. We have a common duty to transform our youth to become the protectors of these valuable assets, he said.
Vikram Misri, Deputy National Security Advisor, India said maritime safety and security will always be paramount to the conclave.
“It will remain central to many of our deliberations. All of us also remain vulnerable to the threats of trafficking, organised crime and terrorism particularly in light of the recent developments in our neighbourhood. Our law enforcement agencies have been working together on various aspects of the pillars of our cooperation and will continue to carry out joint operations in view of our mutual interests, ”he said.