Ambassador Jackline Yonga, Director of Multilateral Affairs at the State Department for Foreign Affairs, led a delegation in Kenya to participate at the two-day virtual conference held from May 30th to 31st, 2024.

The Committee of Senior Officers (CSO) meeting themed “Enhancing Regional Architecture: Strengthening the Identity of the Indian Ocean.” was chaired by Sri Lanka and the gathering included representatives from 23 Member States and 12 Dialogue Partners with a shared interest in the Indian Ocean. Discussions centered around updates on IORA’s priority areas, cross-cutting issues, and institutional frameworks.

As the second-highest decision-making body of the IORA, the CSO convenes biannually to evaluate the progress of Member States in implementing strategic objectives, outline economic priorities, and provide recommendations on various agenda items.

The priority areas of IORA encompass Maritime Safety and Security, Fisheries Management, Disaster Risk Management, Academic Cooperation, Technology Collaboration, Tourism, Culture, Blue Economy, and Women’s Empowerment. Kenya holds the chairmanship of the IORA Core Group on Tourism and Cultural Exchange, a role it assumed from Mauritius in October 2024.

During the conference, Kenya advocated for increased collaboration and partnerships to boost economies, promote women’s economic empowerment, and enhance early warning systems for natural disasters. Being a founding member of IORA, Kenya engages with the Association through the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, serving as the National Focal Point.

During the second day of the conference, Member States and Dialogue Partners discussed updates on the Concept Paper on Climate Change and other relevant topics

Kenya urged for the swift implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) within IORA Member States. Additionally, Kenya called for the Chair’s support and that of like-minded countries to establish a comprehensive framework for digital trade and cross-border transactions, aiming to facilitate economic integration and growth within the region.

The 27th IORA CSO meeting is scheduled to take place later in the year in Sri Lanka, preceding the Council of Ministers meeting.