GCC’s ‘Vision for Regional Security’

News Excerpt:

For the first time since its inception, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced its ‘Vision for Regional Security’ at a ceremony held in its headquarters in Riyadh on 28 March 2024.

Key Points:

  • The ‘Vision for Regional Security’ emphasises that it is based on the principles of shared destiny and indivisible security of the member states, and any threat to one is a threat to all the member States. 
    • This was also earlier mentioned in the Joint Defence Agreement of the GCC signed in 2000. 
  • The vision document is based on the principles of respecting sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of the States.
  • Vision for Regional Security is not just a political commitment, but an ethical dedication that unites all.

What issues does the vision cover?

  • There are several topics that the vision covers, outlined in 15 specific points, such as issues relating to regional security and stability, economy and development, as well as climate change.
    • One such geopolitical challenge that the vision seeks to resolve is the issue of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, reaffirming the GCC's commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative that was first endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, despite Bahrain and the UAE normalizing relations with Israel.
    • The vision also calls for the end of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and nots that the conflict is a key issue destabilizing the region.
    • It also addresses nuclear non-proliferation in the region, a long-standing issue due to Iran's nuclear programme, as well as a commitment on the right to civil nuclear use, a policy which has been sought by both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 
      • Iran also says that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes but Gulf states suspect this could be cover for manufacturing an atomic bomb.
    • The vision also stresses the need to maintain maritime and waterway security, as well as combating terrorism and its financing, and prevent weapons - including "ballistic missile technology and drone systems" - from reaching armed groups.
    • In particular, the vision demands "the criminalization of all groups carrying out terrorist acts, irrespective of their political or sectarian affiliation, or ties to state institutions".
    • Other points include addressing cyber security issues, global energy market stability, climate change and the advancement of implementing a 'circular carbon economy' and securing water security.

Geopolitical Context

  • The document has come at a time when the West Asian region is engulfed in a turmoil since the beginning of the Israel–Hamas War in October 2023. 
  • The vision document makes explicit reference to the Israel–Palestine issue and calls for activating the Arab Peace Initiative. 
    • Among others, it calls for a two-State solution, the withdrawal of Israeli forces to the pre-June 1967 borders and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. 
    • It seems like the devastating consequences of the ongoing Israel–Hamas War and its regional implications have had an impact on the formulation of the vision document. 
  • The GCC often expresses its concerns over other regional issues such as the crisis in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon etc., but the Israel–Palestine issue is the only regional issue which finds a mention in the vision document. 
  • The Israel–Hamas War has impacted the wider region as well, spilling over into the neighbouring Red Sea. 
    • The Houthis, whom the GCC member countries except Oman have fought against, have again become active. 
    • They have been targeting the ships in the Red Sea and as a result, a new tension has been created in the high seas.
  • A coalition of more than 20 countries led by the US has started ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ to ensure the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. 
    • The tensions in the Red Sea affects all the GCC countries, more specifically Saudi Arabia, as it shares a long border with the Red Sea. 
  • The announcement of the document at this point is a conscious move on the part of the GCC to reaffirm its cohesion at the time of fast-evolving regional crises. 
    • It proposes a comprehensive framework of regional security which promotes negotiation and dialogue to overcome disagreements, violence and conflict. 
    • Furthermore, it reinforces the role of the organization in mediating as well as resolving regional conflicts.

What is the GCC?

  • The GCC is an economic and political bloc formed in 1981, in the face of regional conflict and tensions. 
  • It includes Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, six countries with huge oil resources and some of the highest per capita GDPs in the world.
  • Despite the agreement on greater economic and political integration there have been huge divergences on the goals of the GCC and differences on regional policy.


While the vision document is an effort in the right direction, executing this framework in a volatile geopolitical and security environment will test the commitment of the individual member states and the unity of the GCC as a collective.

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