Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference – Phase III – February 2024

Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference – Phase III – February 2024


Pathfinder Foundation successfully hosted Phase III of its Indian Ocean Security Conference on the 28th and 29th of February 2024. The event was conducted in a hybrid format, with key speakers being physically present alongside eminent local invitees. Overseas-based resource persons, including the panel, joined the event virtually. The conference was co-chaired by Ambassador Shivshankar Menon, former Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Foreign Secretary, and National Security Advisor, and Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of Pathfinder Foundation.

The one-and-a-half-day event was held at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo, with H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, President of Sri Lanka, as the Chief Guest. H.E. Hayashi Makoto, Deputy Director-General / Deputy Assistant Minister, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, and H.E. Julie Chung, Ambassador of the United States in Sri Lanka, delivered special remarks. Representatives of diplomatic missions in Colombo, including Heads and Deputy Heads of Mission, other officials, and invitees from the Government of Sri Lanka, think tanks, and academia, attended the event in person.

The virtual event included over 100 participants each day from the littoral and hinterland countries of the Indian Ocean, including member countries of IORA and its Dialogue Partners, permanent members of the Security Council, regional and international organizations, partner institutions of Pathfinder Foundation locally and globally and other interested parties.

The following three themes were taken up at the 2024 conference which have their genesis in the 'Free & Open Indo-Pacific Strategy:

1. Indo-Pacific Strategy and its implications on the Indian Ocean Community

Moderator - Amb. (Retd.) Ahmed Jawad, Director-Centre for Indo-Lanka Relations, Pathfinder Foundation

Presenter -Mr. Kim Heriot-Darragh, Research Fellow, Perth USAsia Centre, University of Western Australia


Ambassador (Retd.) H.M.G.S Palihakkara - Former Foreign Secretary and Sri Lanka's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geneva and New York.

Dr. Liu Zongyi - Senior Fellow, Director of the Center for South Asia Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS)

2. Underwater Domain Awareness: Security and Economic Dimensions

Moderator - Admiral Jayantha Perera, former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy

Presenter - Dr (Cdr.) Arnab Das, Founder & Director, Maritime Research Centre, Pune, India


Rear Admiral Dimuthu Gunawardena (Retd.) Former Actg. Director General and Director (Communications and Publications) Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSS).

Prof. Jeffrey Payne, Assistant Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington DC, USA

3. Climate Change, Maritime Disaster Management and Blue-green Economy

Moderator - Dr. Terny Pradeep Kumara, Professor of Oceanography, Dept. of Oceanography and Marine Geology, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

Presenter - Dr. Richard Jeo, Senior Vice President and Chief Field Officer, Asia-Pacific Field Division, Conservation International, Virginia, USA


Dr. Athaulla Rasheed, Doctoral Researcher, Australia National University (ANU)

Prof. Rashed Uz Zaman, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

The platform provided by the conference for an open and free discussion is expected to engender a conducive environment to address issues and rivalries involving regional and extra-regional states, the impact on environmental security arising from climate change and global warming, transnational maritime crime, the importance of connectivity and economic growth for which maritime security and upholding international law are critically important.

The biannual Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference brings together key players of the Indian Ocean to a single platform, where critical issues can be discussed and debated to enhance bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation.

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