Colombo Security Conclave (CSC)

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December 28, 2023

Why in news?

Recently, India’s National Security Adviser (NSA), took part in the 6th NSA meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) which agreed upon a road map for the year 2024.

What is Colombo Security Conclave?

  • It is a regional security grouping initially known as the Trilateral for Maritime Security Cooperation.
  • Established in2011
  • Aim – To promote a safe, secure, and stable Indian Ocean, with India playing a leadership role.
  • Membership4
    • India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives were part of trilateral maritime security collaboration, while Mauritius joined at 5th meeting of grouping in Male in 2022.
  • Observer statusBangladesh and Seychelles, now they have received invitations to become active participants in the group.

The CSC countries are all members of the 2 region-wide Indian Ocean groupings, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

  • 5 pillars
    • Maritime safety and security
    • Countering terrorism and radicalisation
    • Combating trafficking and transnational organised crime
    • Cyber-security and protection of critical infrastructure
    • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
  • Permanent secretariatIn Colombo, established in 2021 to coordinate all activities and implement decisions made at the National Security Advisor (NSA) level.
  • Meeting – It happens at the level of NSA and deputy NSA.
  • Security-focused exercises - In 2021, India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives conducted Exercise Dosti XV in Maldives and they subsequently conducted their 1st joint exercise in the Arabian Sea named as Table Top Exercise (TTX).
  • Significance – Since 2021, it has investigated terrorism and terror financing, narcotics trafficking, cybercrime and security, marine pollution, maritime law, and coastal security.
  • Conducting conferences - In 2022, for the 1st time, the organisation held a
    • Conference of oceanographers and hydrographers
    • Conference on coastal security and the next iterations of these conferences are scheduled for 2024.
  • Joint working groups – It is to focus on terrorism, cyber-security, humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR), trafficking and transnational organised crimes.
  • Collaborating on capacity-building - In sectors such as counter-terrorism, police, law enforcement, and cyber-security.

What is the changing dynamics of CSC?

  • Disruption – It started in 2011 but it came to a standstill after 2014 due to rising tensions between India and the Maldives which led to the suspension of meetings between 2014 and 2020.
  • RevivalIn 2020, India pushed for the revival and thus it was rebranded as Colombo Security Conclave.
  • India also expressed interest in expanding the CSC to the Seychelles and Bangladesh who are currently observer nations.
  • Reason for revival – It is due to increasing importance of Indian Ocean in an evolving multipolar world today, with extra-regional powers competing to make inroads in the region.
  • It is partially linked to the increased Chinese presence in Indian Ocean along with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.
    • China has established a base in Djibouti and controls Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port.
  • Space for India’s leadership – It offers India an opportunity to institutionalise its role, shape the regional security architecture, and better address the existing and emerging threats.
  • India plays as the 1st responder in the IOR, be it to avert coups or to offer humanitarian and economic assistance during COVID-19 and multi-faceted crises.

What are the challenges faced by CSC?

  • Domestic politics – It remains vulnerable to domestic political changes in member-states, as evidenced by the Maldives’ absence from the recent meeting.
  • Chinese influence – All member-states being democracies may continue to play nationalist and pro-China cards for domestic and external benefits as the Indo-Pacific region grows in prominence.
  • Emerging Sub-regionalism – The convergence of 6 Indian Ocean region countries within the CSC signifies the emergence of sub-regionalism on a unified maritime and security platform.

What lies ahead?

  • Uphold a common strategic vision emphasizing the importance of not being hindered by the escalating Chinese influence in the region.
  • Avert points of contention with neighbouring countries and foster collaboration in the region.


  1. The Hindu | Evolving role of CSC
  2. Hindustan Times | CSC roadmap for IOR
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