The Indian Ocean as a ‘Zone of Peace’

  • Robert O’Neill
  • David N. Schwartz
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


It is well known that the increase of Soviet and United States naval activity in the Indian Ocean since 1968 has caused concern among the majority of littoral States, who favour the establishment of the Ocean as a ‘zone of peace’. The lead in canvassing the proposal has been taken by Sri Lanka, which first raised it at the Non-Aligned Heads of State Conference in Cairo in October, 1964, and subsequently at the Lusaka Conference of Non-Aligned States in September 1970 and the Singapore Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in January 1971.1 On 16 December 1971 Sri Lanka was successful in having the United Nations General Assembly, by a vote of 61–0 with 55 abstentions, declare the Indian Ocean, together with the air space above it and the ocean floor subjacent thereto, a ‘zone of peace’ for all time. A year later, on 15 December 1972, the General Assembly passed by a stronger majority — 95–0 with 33 abstentions, a resolution reaffirming the idea of a zone of peace, and establishing an Ad Hoc Committee of fifteen nations to study the implications of the proposal. This Ad Hoc Committee has met during 1973 and reported to the General Assembly which on 19 December 1973 passed a motion asking the Ad Hoc Committee to continue its working for another year and calling for a statement by experts on the great powers’ military presence in the Indian Ocean.


Indian Ocean Nuclear Weapon Great Power Littoral State Military Installation 
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  1. 1.
    For an account of the Sri Lanka proposal see S. Asaratnam: ‘The Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace’ in Hedley Bull (ed.), Asia and the Western Pacific: Towards a New International Order, Melbourne: Angus and Robertson, 1975.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert O’Neill
  • David N. Schwartz

There are no affiliations available

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