India has joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA), as an Observer. This was following the high-level virtual meeting of the Grouping. This comes amidst the growing tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The Indian Navy has picked up the increased presence of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). There is no term or duration laid out for being an Observer, and India will work with the DCOC Member States for enhancing maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean Region.
  1. Joining the DCOC/JA will further enable India’s participation on a coordinated multilateral track, and efforts to enhance maritime security would include assistance through training, capacity building, and information exchange. 
  2. This will help in providing greater transparency in the maritime domain by assisting in upgrading existing information sharing mechanisms and by connecting them to present a transparent and seamless maritime picture.
  3. This is not related to India’s bilateral relations with Djibouti or access to ports in Djibouti or any other country in the region.
  4. The very fact that India requested Observer status to the DCOC/JA was accepted by consensus is indicative of her bilateral relations with the DCOC/JA member States along with the work done in enhancing maritime security in the region.
What is DCOC/JA?
  1. It is a grouping of 18 member states which are adjoining the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, the East coast of Africa and Island countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  2. Aimed at repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the DCOC was established in January 2009.
  3. The Jeddah Amendment to DCOC came into effect during its meeting in January 2017.
  4. This amendment has helped in enhancing the scope of the DCOC and will include repression of illicit maritime activity, including maritime terrorism and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
  5. India has now joined Japan, Norway, the UK and the US as Observer to the DCOC/JA.
  6. The Secretariat of the DCOC/JA of this organization is supported by the International Maritime Organisation
  7. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the EU, INTERPOL and Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) are represented at the meetings.
  8. India has been engaged in bilateral as well as multilateral cooperation with countries of the Indian Ocean region including through the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
  9. In support of the spirit of collective solutions for maritime challenges, India announced, in November 2019, at East Asia Summit the ‘Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative’ — with its seven pillars including maritime ecology; maritime security; marine resources; capacity building and resource sharing; disaster risk reduction and management; science, technology and academic cooperation; and, trade, connectivity and maritime transport.
  10. India has signed white shipping agreements under IFC-IOR with many countries in the IOR and shares maritime information with all the partner countries.