To truly enhance their role in securing stability for Asia, India and Australia must play a more active role in institu- tions helping to build a new regional order. Mere presence in existing security institutions differs from active partici- pation and cooperation. Australian officials, while they publicly praise bilateral cooperation in these institutions, privately lament India’s passivity in regional forums, noting that India has not assumed a decisive role in the construction of a cooperative security arrangement. In part, New Delhi’s passivity is due to the fact that Indian decisionmakers are too aware of their country’s shortcomings to be willing to take the lead on this process. India’s main concern is and will remain in the foreseeable future its own economic development. There are two organizations in which active cooperation between the two countries does currently take place, both of which are related to the Indian Ocean. This cooperation, however, is limited in scope. An Australia India Institute task force identifies an emerging trend in regional institutions of “par- allel tracks separating non-traditional region-based security issues from those of a ‘higher order’ that include but go beyond the region.” 68 India and Australia seem to feel comfortable in the first track, where the stakes are much less politi- cal. But they are less comfortable in the second track, where they inevitably confront the difficulties posed by their relationships with China. The first regional organization in which India and Australia cooperate on these first-track issues is the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. Established in 2008, the symposium is a biennial meeting of navy chiefs. It includes only the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and has a significant security component. Although it is a useful forum for exchanging perspectives on regional maritime security, the weak military capacities of most members limit the symposium’s chances of becoming a meaningful security actor. Indeed, it has so far achieved no concrete objectives. 69 More promising is the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA, originally known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation), which is likely to become a forum of choice for India-Australia cooperation. Initiated in 1997 by the two countries with the objective of promoting regional India and Australia must play a more active role in institutions helping to build a new regional order. Mere presence in existing security institutions differs from active participation and cooperation.
Frederic Grare | 23 trade, the IORA came to include maritime security issues in 2008. These, how- ever, are limited to “small” security matters, such as piracy and illegal fishing, which are important for the Indian Ocean islands but unlikely to make the IORA a major force in regional security.
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- Spring '19