The politics of negotiating the zone of peace in the Indian Ocean

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University of Dar es Salaam
The problem of international peace and security has become one of the key concerns of the international community today. The ever-increasing militarization of the Indian Ocean by the major powers has not only been considered as a major source of widespread tension and conflict in the Indian Ocean area but also a serious threat to international peace and security. The situation has consequently called for meaningful and concrete diplomatic initiatives aimed at controlling and ultimately eliminating the competitive military presence of the big powers from the Indian Ocean. One significant effort to this effect has been the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2832 (XXVI) of 1971, which designated the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace. However, since then negotiations aimed at implementing this resolution have apparently stalled. The question is why have these important talks stalled and what can be done to overcome the existing stalemate on the negotiations for the zone of peace? This study has discussed this problem and has come up with the following conclusions. First, the big powers have established significant interests in the Indian Ocean area due to the latter's geo-political, economic and strategic importance to the extent that they are not prepared to accept the negotiation of the IOZP on terms dictated by the LHS only. Second, to resolve the stalemate, the parties have to devise negotiating techniques which allow for greater flexibility and a concern for achieving mutual benefits from the negotiations. Due to the tendency of both the big powers and the littoral states to use positional bargaining techniques, it has not been possible for them to agree on an acceptable agenda which is necessary for meaningful negotiations of the IOZP. Third, the major items on the agenda should include: freezing rather than removing the existing forces; limiting the expansion of bases and facilities; avoiding the deployment of nuclear weapon systems in the area, offering international guarantees against possible threat to the LHS and peace agreement among the LHS especially in demilitarization. Fourth, the problem of peace and security can not be resolved exclusively through negotiation. Other factors like a favourable international public opinion and mutual trust and confidence among the LHS are vital for pressurising the big powers to embark on meaningful negotiations of IOZP.
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Indian Ocean region, Disarmament, Arms race
Kombe, I.H (1986) The politics of negotiating the zone of peace in the Indian Ocean, masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (