The Association will facilitate and promote economic co-operation, bringing together inter-alia representatives of Member States' governments, businesses and academia. In a spirit of multilateralism, the Association seeks to build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial co-operation through a consensus-based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach.
The Association will apply the following fundamental principles without qualification or exception to all Member States:-
- Co-operation within the framework of the Association will be based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit;
- The membership of the Association will be open to all sovereign States of the Indian Ocean Rim which subscribe to the principles and objectives of the Charter and are willing to undertake commitments under the Charter;
- Decisions on all matters and issues and at all levels will be taken on the basis of consensus;
- Bilateral and other issues likely to generate controversy and be an impediment to regional co-operation efforts will be excluded from deliberations;
- Co-operation within the Association is without prejudice to rights and obligations entered into by Member States within the framework of other economic and trade co-operation arrangements which will not automatically apply to Member States of the Association. It will not be a substitute for, but seeks to reinforce, be complementary to and consistent with their bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral obligations;
- A member-driven approach will be followed by Member States to achieve the goals and objectives of the Association.
- Promotion of principles of good governance by Member States will enable smooth implementation of programmes.
IORA’s apex body is the Council of Foreign Ministers (COM) which meets annually to discuss the developments of IORA. A committee of Senior Officials (CSO) meets twice a year to progress IORA’s agenda and consider recommendations by Working Groups and forums of officials, business and academics to implement policies and projects to improve the lives of people within the Indian Ocean Member States.
The Republic of South Africa is the current Chair of IORA form October 2017-2019. The Vice Chair will be the United Arab Emirates which would take Chair as from October 2019-2021.