"Galle Dialogue 2014" begins in the port city of Galle

“Cooperation & Collaboration for Maritime Prosperity”

The International Maritime Conference, “Galle Dialogue 2014”, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, gets underway in the port city of Galle on 01st December 2014 for the fifth consecutive year. Local and foreign scholars and experts in maritime and naval affairs representing 39 countries are expected to share their views at this two-day dialogue held under the theme, “Cooperation & Collaboration for Maritime Prosperity”, at the Lighthouse Hotel on 01st and 02nd December.

At the invitation of the Secretary of Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the National Security Advisor of India Dr. Ajit Kumar Doval will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session where the welcome remarks will be made by the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera. The Chief Guest, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris will address the august gathering under the theme "Towards Blue Economy" during the first session.

The Galle Dialogue, a brainchild of the Secretary of Defence and Urban Development, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, will focus primarily on cooperation and collaboration beyond maritime security in reaping maritime benefits for prosperity. This endeavour aims to provide a platform for nations to pursue matters of bilateral and multi-lateral interest in the maritime sphere. The identification of deficiencies in the present status and recommending solutions in spheres such as security policies, environmental regulations, harmonising different legal regimes, shipping paradoxes, collaborative measures and domain awareness involve commitment and determination to resolve. Despite the complex nature of issues involved, peaceful co-existence in this highly competitive yet cooperative and collaborative environment is a distinct possibility.

The surge of interest in maritime affairs today indicates that the domain is vital for existence, co-existence and even for competition. Whilst nations compete, collaborate and co-exist in this environment, the attention to maritime issues is at an all-time high. The interest shown by nations is multi-faceted with maritime security being the most critical aspect of an entire spectrum of issues. Other aspects ranging from legal to technical, knowledge to environment also have a part in enabling the reaping of economic benefits from the oceans. However, the lack of a substantive maritime security environment prevents the reaping of such benefits, thereby depriving prosperity through maritime means in the quest for development.

It is well understood that the synergy of efforts, both internally and externally, is the key for maritime prosperity but how and by what means that is achieved requires consideration. As world economies are increasingly dependent on sea-borne trade, the possibilities of involvement in unwanted situations are also high. No incident in the maritime domain remains isolated as the incidents of piracy off the Somali coast proved by its global repercussions. Hence, it’s opined that maritime matters need the attention of policy makers and policy executioners alike, no matter how trivial the incident may be. It is evident that matters left to evolve without concerted action may eventually necessitate the commitment of more finances, resources and attention in the medium and long term.

This year’s Galle Dialogue explores the ways and means to synergize the efforts of cooperation and collaboration to achieve maritime prosperity. Maritime Prosperity is not evaluated only by the naval prowess or technological superiority; it is defined by a combination of aspects such as policies, legislation, law enforcement capacities, policing capabilities, investments, shipping etc. Whilst each nation may use different yardsticks to grade their maritime prosperity, it is the level of confidence placed by other nations that determines one’s standing in the area of maritime prosperity. It is these yardstick measurements that need to be evaluated within the overall context of maritime security and peace. The Dialogue envisages the exchange of different perspective on how nations perceive their standing and position in fulfilling security, scientific, academic and technical aspirations in a domain that unites nations for common interests. Although Governments are at the forefront of maritime administration, it is mostly the private users that exploit the economic benefits on their behalf. Hence, today’s maritime domain encompasses public-private concerns at equal settings too. In this context, the voice of the industry stakeholders as well as academics and independent analysts also to be taken onboard.

To realize these lofty ideals, the inaugural “Galle Dialogue” held in 2010 set the initiative in motion under the theme “Charting the Course for Sustainable Maritime Security Cooperation”. The follow on, “Galle Dialogue 2011” continued the discussion under the theme, “Challenges and Strategic Cooperation for Indian Ocean Maritime Concerns”. Its third edition, "Galle Dialogue 2012" steered towards maritime security and prosperity under the theme “Strategic Maritime Cooperation and Partnership to face the Future with Confidence”. The Galle Dialogue 2013 held last year examined the "Emerging Maritime Trends in the Indian Ocean”. Setting sail with 11 countries onboard at its inception in 2010, the Galle Dialogue initiative has augmented its complement with incresed participation along its course over the successive years. Today it has risen up to 39 counntries having welcomed 20 in 2011, 17 in 2012 and 35 in 2013.

As the Galle Dialogue completes five years since inception, it is hoped that these important deliberations would provide an opportunity for participating nations to gain a better understanding of interconnected issues and assist in making the seas safer for all. Viewers can obtain updates of the mega event by logging on to the conference web site www.galledialogue.com.